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Emily Hartley, Published July 10 2010

From the valley to the mountain: Fargo native climbs Mount Rainier

Growing up amid the flat plains of the Red River Valley, Justin Dimmer never thought about mountain climbing.

Though he was always hunting and fishing with his father, Terry, his outdoor adventures remained confined to sea level.

“I would see TV shows about climbing Everest and think, ‘Oh, that’s cool,’ ” said the 26-year-old. “Growing up in Fargo, if you wanted to climb a mountain, maybe you’d go to the Badlands and climb a butte, which takes about 15 minutes.”

That number is a far cry from the 40 hours he spent in the process of hiking and climbing Washington’s Mount Rainier, the most prominent mountain in the lower 48 states.

The mountain stands 54 miles southeast of Seattle, where the graduate of Fargo South High School and North Dakota State University now works at Slalom Consulting, a business and technology consulting firm.

“Ever since I came out here, the mountain itself has been kind of staring me in the face,” Dimmer said.

When the company held its annual retreat last year, employees were encouraged to “step out of their comfort zones” and connect with their co-workers. So Dimmer and a colleague organized a group to climb Mount Rainier and raise money for Community for Youth, a Seattle charity that helps struggling high school students.

“We thought, there’s no sense in climbing it just to climb it,” Dimmer said, and so far, they’ve raised $6,000 for the charity.

They began the climb June 24 with two days of orientation and safety training, but the group of 18 climbers had been gearing up for the big trek for nearly six months.

“We definitely built a bond with this group of people because, in essence, you really are putting your life into their hands,” Dimmer said.

The hike to base camp took about five hours, as did the climb to the summit of the glaciated mountain, which they reached at 6 a.m. June 27.

Dimmer called the climb both harder than expected and “spectacular.” From start to finish, he traveled 18 miles through a 9,000-foot elevation change, all in 40 sleepless hours.

And he hopes to do it again, both at Mount Rainier and outside of the country.

Through the climb, Dimmer said he found “that I can set my mind to something, achieve it, prepare for it and feel safe doing it. I was setting myself up for success.”

According to father Terry Dimmer, success isn’t new to Justin, but the climb was a feat nonetheless.

“He’s done something far more than I could ever imagine him to do,” Terry Dimmer said. “He achieved his goals.”

Readers can reach Forum reporter Emily Hartley at (701) 235-7311