Outdoors

He passed a friend to set a record on Mount Rainier. Is the new mark unbreakable?

Brent Okita recently reached the top of Mount Rainier for the 520th time, establishing a new record for most summits.
Brent Okita recently reached the top of Mount Rainier for the 520th time, establishing a new record for most summits. Courtesy

There is a new king of the mountain.

Brent Okita reached the top of Mount Rainier for the 520th time earlier this week, setting a new record for the most known summits of the 14,411-foot volcano, Rainier Mountaineering Inc. announced.

The 56-year-old guide from Enumclaw passed his longtime friend, George Dunn of International Mountain Guides.

Dunn, who has cut back on his summit attempts over the past decade, was the first to climb the mountain 500 times in 2010. Even then, he predicted Okita would eventually catch him.

Okita, who still summits about 20 times per year, was the second to reach the milestone on June 7, 2016. Most guides believe no other guide will reach the 500-summit mark. Only eight guides have climbed the mountain 300 times.

“A guide told me once he didn’t think anybody would ever catch us,” Okita told The News Tribune in 2016. “People don’t climb Rainier anymore the way we used to. But, we’ll see. Never say never.”

Okita considers Dunn a mentor. The men worked together for many years at RMI.

Okita has also climbed Mount Everest, the world’s highest peak, and Vinson Massif, Antarctica’s highest mountain. He’s led 23 consecutive successful to the top of Denali, North America’s highest peak.

Okita works winters on Crystal Mountain’s ski patrol.

“Brent is a mentor, leader and, above all, an inspiration to all mountaineers,” said Peter Whittaker, owner of RMI. “The fact that Brent has challenged himself on this mountain for 31 years and successfully reached the summit of Rainier 520 times is extraordinary.”

  Comments