A Trek with Bellingham’s Dave Mauro and His New Book

You might consider David J. Mauro a modern-day superhero. Weekdays, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Dave can be found at his UBS Financial Services Inc. office in Bellingham wearing the title of senior vice president, wealth management. Catch him after hours, however, and you may find him summiting the world’s tallest mountain peaks or talking about his latest trek. He has his very own super suit with crampons on his feet, a harness around his waist, and an ice axe in his hand. Then there’s that large tattoo on his calf. It outlines the seven summits—the world’s tallest peaks—that Mauro spent seven years of his life conquering.

Now, five years after climbing his final peak, Mount Everest, Mauro, 55, has written a book, “The Altitude Journals: A Seven-Year Journey from the Lowest Point in My Life to the Highest Point on Earth.” It recounts his story of the emotional and physical struggles reaching the highest point on each continent.

“I still don’t consider myself a mountain climber. I consider myself a seeker,” says Mauro, who experienced his “lowest point” at age 44, when he found himself living in his sister’s guest room, despondent over the death of his brother and the failure of his marriage. A relative sent him a birthday gift—a pair of climbing poles.

Mauro has been seeking summits since 1993 when he and a few of his friends reached the top of Mount Baker. After an uninspiring trip to the top, Mauro said he couldn’t understand why people climb and considered himself retired from climbing. “I had no idea what was supposed to be fun about it,” he said. Fast forward to 2006, and Mauro had his sights set on North America’s tallest mountain, Denali in Alaska (also known as Mount McKinley). It peaks at more than 20,000 feet above sea level. The move from “retired” to climbing one of the deadliest peaks in the world was prompted by his brother-in-law Ty Hardt. Hardt, an Anchorage-based filmmaker and climber, was planning to climb Denali and make a documentary in the process. Mauro played the novice climber and he summited Denali on June 13, 2007. After that, he no longer considered himself retired from climbing.

After Denali, Mauro kept having dreams of the enchanting African plains. He knew what was next—Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania—the highest mountain on the African continent. From then on, Mauro made it his mission to conquer the remaining tallest peaks on each of the seven continents: Mounts Elbrus in Russia, Aconcagua in Argentina, Carstensz Pyramid in Indonesia, Mount Vinson in Antarctica, and on May 20, 2013, Mount Everest.

Today, life after the climbs has yet to slow down. He led a March 31 hike up Blanchard Mountain’s Oyster Dome to fundraise for Binaytara Foundation, a Bellingham cancer health nonprofit. His new book, “The Altitude Journals,” will take him on a two-year speaking tour in partnership with outdoor retailer REI. Mauro will speak at every REI store in North America about his experiences. Mauro hopes the book, an Amazon No. 1 best-seller in the “Outdoor Adventure” category, inspires people to climb their own mountains. “Everyone has a Mount Everest, but every big mountain is just a bunch of little mountains,” he said. In addition to spreading his words of wisdom, Mauro tries to lead climbs up at least one big mountain a year. Since his altitude climbs, he has conquered Mount Rainier and Mount Baker (again). No matter what the challenge, physical or mental, Mauro recommends the advice that got him through his summits: “Just 10 steps at a time.”

 

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"'Everyone has a Mount Everest, but every big mountain is just a bunch of little mountains.'"