David R. Mahre, mountaineer and father to Phil and Steve, dies at 77


David R. Mahre, mountaineer and father to Phil and Steve, dies at 77{mosimage}YAKIMA ‒ David R. Mahre, known for his challenging ascents of Pacific Northwest peaks and as the father of two Olympic skiers, has died.

Mahre, of Naches, died Saturday in Tacoma after undergoing emergency heart surgery earlier in the week. He was 77.

“No one had a stronger will or determination than Dave Mahre. No one had stronger morals or ethics than Dave Mahre. He was just a remarkable man,” said Kevin McCarthy, general manager of the White Pass Ski Area, who knew Mahre for three decades as an employee, boss and friend.

Among Mahre’s nine children are twins Phil and Steve Mahre, internationally renowned skiers in the 1980s. His wife died several years ago.

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.

In a field known for its risks, Mahre also always realized he had a family to support off the mountain, said Yakima mountaineer Lee Maxwell.

“He made darned sure he was in a situation where he had carefully studied it in order to make sure that some ice wall wasn’t going to peel off and take him with it,” Maxwell said.

Mahre worked for his father in farming until 1962. That year, he started working full time as mountain manager of the White Pass Ski Area and remained in that role for three decades. He moved his family to White Pass in 1966.

“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.”

-The Associated Press

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