David R. Mahre (1927-2005) First Ascent of Rainier Willis Wall

Willis Wall First Ascent on Rainier The Seattle Post Intelligencer reports David R. Mahre famed for his first ascent of Rainier’s Willis Wall and other Northwest ascents died after undergoing emergency heart surgery. He was 77.

Born in Yakima on Aug. 8, 1927, David Mahre graduated from high school in 1945 and served in the Merchant Marines for two years. He began climbing in 1948 and became one of the Northwest’s best climbers, with first ascents on Mount Rainier, Little Tahoma, Mount Adams and Mount Stuart.

In 1963, he and three other men scaled Rainier’s Willis Wall, so dangerous that veteran rangers said recently it had gone 15 years without an attempt.

“Climbing to me is a battle with yourself, your own shortcomings,” Mahre once said. “It’s not a religion, but it’s damn close to being spiritual. It’s a search inside yourself, to see whether you measure up.”