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Kenmore couple prepares for Mt. Rainier charity climb

Planning a fund-raising climb up Mt. Rainier, the husband-and-wife team of Mark Augustyniewicz and Marna Kagele previously took on Washington’s Mt. Olympus. COURTESY PHOTO -
Planning a fund-raising climb up Mt. Rainier, the husband-and-wife team of Mark Augustyniewicz and Marna Kagele previously took on Washington’s Mt. Olympus. COURTESY PHOTO
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Neither Mark Augustyniewicz nor wife Marna Kagele seem overly concerned about the physical challenge connected with their impending climb up Mt. Rainier.

No doubt that is partly because both have made the trip previously.

Still, mention the fundraising the pair need to do, and both laugh. And Augustyniewicz seems to flinch just a bit.

“It’s been a bit challenging,” Kagele admitted, adding the rough economy probably wasn’t making things any easier. Still, it’s the fund-raising aspect that makes this trip different from the pair’s past climbs, both together and solo.

Even now just settling into their new home in Kenmore, the couple is part of a roughly 20-person team taking on Rainier July 17-19. Organized by Red Lantern Journeys, the climb is a fund-raiser for the Mitrata Orphanage in Katmandu, Nepal. Each participant has to come up with at least $1,000, which goes directly to the orphanage.

“It’s jut a way to help people, I think we all have to make a difference,” Kagele said.

Both Augustyniewicz and Kagele work for Boeing, which sponsors a climbing training class for employees and non-employees alike. Even before they met, both had an interest in climbing and hiking, but neither had scaled any particular heights. Augustyniewicz said it’s undoubtedly their shared interest in the outdoors that helped bring them together.

“We both like anything that’s not sitting-behind-a-desk kind of stuff,” he added.

In any case, both took the Boeing class, though apparently separately. Since then, both have conquered a few summits, though Kagele has outdone her husband. Her biggest climb was a three-week expedition up the side of Mt. Aconcagua in Argentina,

At 22,841 feet, Aconcagua is the highest peak in the Americas, one of the so-called Seven Summits. Reaching each of those peaks is a sort of Holy Grail quest among mountain climbers. Kagele said she’s not necessarily out to summit on all seven mountains, but her next goal (after Rainier) is the top of Alaska’s Mt. Denali (aka Mt. McKinley), the highest spot in North America and another of the Seven Summits. She’s also gone hiking in the Himalayas, though never mountain climbing.

In the meantime, Augustyniewicz has stayed closer to home. Besides taking on Rainier, he’s headed up other summits in the immediate area, including Mt. Olympus in Olympic National Park, a climb completed with Kagele.

While the coming Rainier trek will only last a couple of days, Kagele admits to a fondness for what she termed expedition trips, climbs like the long journey she took up Aconcagua. She said it’s obviously a way of escaping the everyday.

“I love waking up in a tent and being away from anything,” she said. Concentrating on the climb, she added, doesn’t allow one to worry or think about much else.

“It’s just a way of being completely in the moment,” Kagele said.

For Augustyniewicz, climbing almost seemed a natural outgrowth of having lived in this area all his life.

“I grew up looking at the mountain (Rainier) all these years,” he said, adding he couldn’t help but imagine what it would be like to reach the top. Augustyniewicz joked about being able to spend one day in a desolate, glacier setting and the next sitting in a brew pub. He also added climbing gives him the chance to “eat all the junk food I want.”

As one scales the side of any mountain, energy is apparently key. While Kagele didn’t agree treks are the perfect excuse for junk food, she admitted that, on the trail, a Snickers bar can be welcome.

To help them reach their fund-raising goals, the couple planned a small event at their home, with a local restaurant — somehow appropriately the Everest Kitchen on Lake City Way — providing the catering.

“It’s twisting the arms of family and friends,” Augustyniewicz said of the event.

In the meantime, those wishing to help can visit the couple’s blog site at http://cid-e6b4eb4ObO69c1f.spaces.live.com.

To learn more about the Mitrata orphanage, go to www.mitrata.org.

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