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Southeast Recipients

$400: Nolan Wilfire—Nolan and his climbing partner Benjy Darnell have locked in their objective to climb in traditional fashion the South Face of the Washington Column linked with the South Face of the North Dome as well as the Nutcracker route located in Yosemite National Park.  Between his studies and dissertations as a Ph.D. candidate studying Education at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Nolan spends more time dreaming of climbing a big wall in Yosemite than he cares to anymore.  With he and his partner’s experience mounting, they are ready for their Yosemite big wall dream!


$400: Sara Casey—Sara and her climbing partner Jana Coulter are traveling to City of Rocks, Idaho for a weeklong climbing trip to climb the area’s classic multi-pitch moderate sport routes:

• Theatre of Shadows, (5.7, 4 pitches)

• Sinocranium, (5.8, 7 pitches) and

• Cruel Shoes (5.7, 3 pitches)

With inspiration from a climbing mentor, Sara thought “City of Rocks sounded like a dream climbing area with sport and trad routes as well as multi-pitch and single pitch routes. I have always thought of City of Rocks as the perfect place for the “all-around” climber that I hope to be (SC).”  Sara and Jana will spend a week climbing to improve and dial-in their multi-pitch skills on safe and moderate terrain while also getting a chance to push their physical limits on single pitch climbs.



$400: Jeff Mekolites—Jeff and his climbing partner Scott Perkins plan to climb the ultra classic 25-pitch Northeast Buttress of Mt. Sleese located in the North Cascades of Washington state.   This remote and wild destination will challenge Jeff and Steve mentally and physically, testing their experience, efficiency, and ability to route-find.


$400: Melissa Buehler—Melissa’s objective is to be the first woman to climb the Evolution Traverse in a day (tent-to-tent), solo.  While Melissa recently moved to the southeast, she has years of experience in the High Sierras.  Melissa loves free-climbing, peak bagging, and ski-mountaineering, but considers alpine climbing as “icing on the cake.”  With many tandem-solos under her belt, Melissa has taught herself how to navigate solo in the mountains.  Evolution Traverse will challenge both her ability to route-find and push her limits physically and mentally.


$400: Eric Rich—Eric and climbing partner Dirk Summer’s objective is an alpine style ascent of the Southwest Face of San Valentín(4058m/13,314ft), a mountain in Chilean Patagonia.  This summit will help Eric progress as a climber, not to mention fulfilling a dream he has had for years.  Eric has learned to climb a variety of routes on big mountains at high altitudes.  Eric enjoys and welcomes the challenge of alpine climbing-- “the camaraderie that they force, and savoring the journey that they provide as much as I do the climb, (ER).”