Torklift’s journey to Mt. Rainier’s summit Part 3: The Climb

Continued from Part 2

A race against time
As our guides rope us up for the final ascent, I couldn’t help but notice how our climbing teams were re-organized. One of our female group members decided to stay behind at camp along with a guide. Continuing the climb was four rope teams: Two groups of three climbers consisting of two men plus a guide and two additional groups of 2, another woman and myself each had our own personal guide. Jack and I were separated onto two different teams and at this point, I knew the guides anticipated that I would be one of the first to turn back early. This factor was just extra fuel. I wasn’t prepared to give up until I reached my goal.

crevasse-crossingCrossing a crevasseWith only a headlamp and the moonlight, I closely followed my guide and laser-focused on each immediate challenge in front of me. Bottomless crevasse? Check. I’ll go ahead and death-grip a rope while I inch my way across wobbly wooden 2x4 planks thrown over a flimsy aluminum ladder with my clunky spike shoes. Vertical ice walls? Check. That’s what my crampons and ice axe were for, right? Scale the edge of a cliff across loose rock and boulders? Check. With the path just inches wide in some areas, I tried my best to put fear aside and refused to succumb to the exhaustion nipping at my heels. With no time to waste, I kept moving as quickly as possible, which was sadly similar to the pace of a zombie.

At the top of Disappointment Cleaver, two climbers had already turned around at two separate points. Since it required a guide to take each of them back down to camp, only two guides remain for the entire group. There was a rope team of two gentlemen plus Jack and I. The two of us roped up with our guide to tackle the remainder of the ascent. As the wind picked up and our faces began to freeze, we trekked onward.

guide-breakOur Lead Guide stops for a quick breakThe climb was ruthless. With infinite steep switchbacks and several sections of treachery, I slowly began to lose momentum. It got to the point where our guide was literally pulling on the rope to keep up a pace. With no breath or energy left in my legs, I was ready to surrender. My body wanted to quit and my mind was screaming mercy. But there were just a few things to consider. In order to summit, we needed at least two mountaineering guides. If I quit, the three remaining climbers on this trip would not have a chance to summit. Jack had dedicated endless hours of preparation and I would shatter his dream of reaching the summit.

All of Torklift was expecting me to complete this climb. The immense pressure to not give up was the only thing that kept my feet moving one in front of the other. Slowly but surely, I just kept moving, pushing beyond any effort I thought I was even capable of. Regardless of a mind and body wrenching in pain, I just kept going.

A mountain of meaning
summit-torkliftTorklift on top of Mt. RainierAs I forced myself up the last fifty brutal feet of the climb, I finally approached the top rim of Mt. Rainier’s volcanic crater. The elevation was over 14,400 feet and the simple act if breathing was a distant memory. I was still in shock and disbelief that I had made it to the summit. After being disconnected from our rope team, I took a moment of triumph to look out over the horizon as the sun had inched its way into the sky and I could see layers after layers of mountainous landscaping below. Never had the word “breathtaking” been so literal.

I carefully entered Rainier’s crater while Jack trudged onward to the Columbia Crest, the highest tip of the summit. He signed our names in the summit book alongside our Lead Guide, who just happened to be on his 115th visit to that very spot. Upon their return we signed a Torklift flag to commemorate the event. I even attempted my signature “jump for joy” although exhaustion had definitely taken its toll.

My signature “jump for joy” in Mt. Rainier’s crater

I know the journey was of huge significance to Jack as well. As he stood upon Rainier’s summit, he placed emphasis on one of his favorite quotes:

“Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs even though checkered by failure, than to take rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much because they live in the gray twilight that knows neither victory nor defeat.”
                            -- Theodore Roosevelt

This quote is heard often at Torklift headquarters and is even posted on the wall in the company’s conference room. It’s a daily reminder to take chances, even if it means failure. To face challenges, overcome obstacles and reach for the highest heights. It’s what Jack and I had just struggled to conquer and what’s made Torklift the company it is today: an organization ready for the biggest challenges.

There were a few things I thought about while standing in the crater at the top of Mt. Rainier. One: Just when you think you can’t go forward, you can always push harder - there is always more to give. Two: With the support of family and friends, and the positive mindset of believing in yourself, you can literally accomplish anything. The whole experience is somewhat surreal for me and is something I will remember forever.

finalTorklift President Jack Kay, IMG Lead Guide, Asst. Mkt Director Sheryl Bushaw

After the climb, Jack and I realized that in those moments of both struggle and triumph on the mountain, we both thought about our families, friends and most importantly, our Torklift family. The primary inspiration and motivation to complete a journey of this magnitude was Torklift. Celebrating 40 years in business is a direct result of the hard work, dreams and dedication of our employees.

For 2016, we hope that you join us in celebrating our 40-year milestone.

Torklift Sheryl

sherylWritten by Sheryl Bushaw:
As a graduate from Arizona State University with a B.A. in Journalism and emphasis in Public Relations, Sheryl is a passionate writing professional with focus in areas of copy writing, social media and creative design. She is a travel enthusiast and explorer-extraordinaire with a zest for life.

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Torklift’s journey to Mt. Rainier’s summit Part 2: Into the unknown

Continued from Part 1

rope-upLearning mountaineering maneuversThe first leg of the trip to Camp Muir flew by with ease. Other than mild foot blistering and a substantial physical exertion, this section of the trip was familiar to me. I wouldn’t say comfortable, but it was still within my comfort zone. The second day before departing to camp two at Ingraham Flats, our guides took time to teach us basic mountaineering maneuvers. We learned different ways to walk with crampons, a metal plate with large 1” spikes fixed to our boots that help us to tread on ice and rocks. We also learned self/team-arrest, which is the process of anchoring your body into the mountain in effort to stop the fall of a fellow climber in which you are roped to. After rolling down a steep ice hill both feet and head first, getting familiar with using an ice axe, we finally roped up and headed toward camp two. Our group broke into separate climbing teams of 2-3 people, including a guide for each.

It was at this point we left behind our hiking poles and only used the ice axe for support. With fifty-plus pounds strapped to my back, maneuvering an exceptionally steep trail of loose rock sans pole support was a new challenge I had to face. I seriously struggled and I could tell the guides were analyzing my performance. When we arrived at Ingraham Flats, I retreated to my tent that was already set up on the glacier with newfound frustration. It was that evening when we all grouped together for our meal and that our Lead Guide briefed us on what was about to happen next.


cathedral-gap-topNearing the top of Cathedral Gap

Camp two at Ingraham Flats


guide-tentGuide tent on Ingraham Glacier, camp twoFlash of doubt
As we sat in the guide tent and listened to directions from the Lead Guide, he made it very incredibly clear the amount of difficulty we were about to endure. We were also under a time crunch and pace requirement. If our climbing teams were unable to reach a certain point on the mountain by a specific time, your rope team would have to turn back and give up on the chance to achieve summiting. This put an immense amount of pressure on performing well, as the opportunity for others to summit depended on the level of your endurance. By the end of the pow-wow, I was highly doubtful that I would be able to complete this climb. They indicated that this portion of the climb was undoubtedly the most difficult and I had already struggled leading up to this point. It didn’t help that inclement weather prior to our climb had left the mountain in poor condition for summiting; forcing the route to be the longest it’s been in at least the last 10 years. The large sections of crevasses forced climbing teams to re-route a zigzag pattern and a far more challenging path to the summit.

View over Ingraham Glacier and Little Tahoma

I lay down in my tent and closed my eyes. Light-headed and struggling with deep breaths, I realized the lack of oxygen at high altitude was causing me to cough uncontrollably. I focused on breathing while my mind shifted into its own thoughts. How the heck was I going to pull this off? There was absolutely no way, I convinced myself.

As my mind drowned in fear, worry and insecurity, my thoughts shifted toward my team of Torklift employees and how much they believed that if anyone could do this with Jack, it was going to be me. It was in that moment that I realized I needed to turn this around. I needed to psyche myself out and change my mindset in order to accomplish this challenge successfully.

Even though I had the support of my fellow co-workers, there were also several people that expressed doubt that I could summit this mountain. How amazing would it feel to prove them wrong? How could I allow others to tell me what I could and couldn’t accomplish? Only I was in control of reaching my goal, and right there, lying on the icy floor of my freezing tent, I made my decision. Summiting this mountain wasn’t an option. I was going to give every ounce of effort within my soul to make this momentous achievement a reality. If I believe it, I can achieve it, I thought to myself repeatedly.

As nightfall set in I made a serious effort to get some much-needed rest, but the anticipation of the last and crucial segment of the climb was weighing on me. I was amped up. Not even the violent flapping of my tent from gusting winds was going to intimidate me. At 1:30am our guides gave us the wake up call. I quickly mended my blistering feet and strapped the back of my heels with a generous amount of duct tape. I forced a breakfast of watered-down instant oatmeal and went to gear up. My climbing harness is tightly secured, my ice axe in-hand and my headlamp is on. It’s go time.

Read what happens next by following

- Torklift Sheryl

sherylWritten by Sheryl Bushaw:
As a graduate from Arizona State University with a B.A. in Journalism and emphasis in Public Relations, Sheryl is a passionate writing professional with focus in areas of copy writing, social media and creative design. She is a travel enthusiast and explorer-extraordinaire with a zest for life.

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Torklift’s journey to Mt. Rainier’s summit Part 1: Mind over matter

Out of site, Out of mind
packingTorklift Sheryl and Jack Kay packing our backpacks for the trip
The final days before our scheduled climb to Washington State’s iconic Mt. Rainier, it still hadn’t completely sunk in. The plan was simple. The goal was absolute. But was I ready? To be honest, I had no idea. I had no clue what I was getting myself into when I happily jumped at the opportunity to climb Mt. Rainier alongside Torklift President Jack Kay, who had been training over a year for this moment. I had less than two months to prepare and condition my body and lungs for not only the grueling physical demand a glaciated mountain required, but also for an altitude I had never experience before. Without knowing how far I could push my physical capability and how my body would react to the common side affects of high altitude, I managed to keep all of the cold hard facts out of my mind as the days dwindled down to the trip’s departure. All I could think about was how amazing it was going to be to have my feet on the top of that majestic mountain... witnessing the sun igniting its fiery glow across the mesmerizing Pacific Northwest landscape. I kept the details of what it would take to get there completely pushed aside. Out of sight, out of mind, right? But the magnitude of Mt. Rainier isn’t something you can ignore for long.

Torklift International President Jack Kay chose to climb Mt. Rainier to signify the celebration of Torklift International’s 40 years in business come 2016. Be sure to read how I was selected for the opportunity to accompany him on this journey in by clicking here.

Ready or not…
imgInternational Mountain Guides arrive
morning of climb departure
As we arrive at Paradise in Mt. Rainier National Park the day before the climb, the shear reality of the climb finally begins to set in. I had hiked up to Camp Muir at 10,000 feet elevation several times before to help prepare myself. It was beyond that point that had me edgy. To pass Camp Muir, climbing teams must be roped up for safety as crevasses and other hazards were prevalent. I didn’t know what it might be like after the point of Camp Muir, especially since the majority of our trek to the summit would occur during nightfall. Have you ever had that tingling pit in your stomach when you’re nervous about something? The night before our departure, I couldn’t shake that feeling. I even thought about leaving a note for my family just in case something was to happen to me. With rock falls, avalanches and crevasses hundreds of feet deep, the dangers of climbing this mountain became very real to me.

campmuir-routeRoute up toward Camp MuirOur climbing team was made up of seven people and five experienced mountaineering guides from tour company IMG (International Mountain Guides). As the last climbing team of the season not only was the mountain in less than ideal condition, but we were also the only people on it. Should an emergency rescue be required, we had fewer resources to rely on in a time of need. For this reason IMG sent us up the mountain with extra guides on hand, who would also help with equipment tear down since our trip marked the conclusion of their season. Our team consisted of folks from around the world, and as representatives from Torklift International and local Washingtonians, Jack and I were honored to be climbing with such an amazing group of people.

Climbing team with two IMG Guides on departure day

Trailhead from Paradise to Camp Muir

Stay tuned as the journey continues…

- Torklift Sheryl



sherylWritten by Sheryl Bushaw:
As a graduate from Arizona State University with a B.A. in Journalism and emphasis in Public Relations, Sheryl is a passionate writing professional with focus in areas of copy writing, social media and creative design. She is a travel enthusiast and explorer-extraordinaire with a zest for life.

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Torklift has arrived to the top of Mt. Rainier!

Torklift International President Jack Kay and Assistant Marketing Director Sheryl Bushaw embarked on their journey to the highest peak of Mount Rainier on Sunday.

The climbing duo made it to the top Tuesday morning alerting everyone of their triumph via a message from their satellite phone: 

At the top of the mountain

Kay and Bushaw began their final ascent to the top shortly after midnight on Monday. They crawled across crevasses using aluminum ladders in the dark of the night. The crevasses loomed below them hundreds of feet in depth while they used mere flashlights to light the way.

Climbing up the mountain

The Torklift team will be meeting Kay and Bushaw at Paradise Trail Head this afternoon to welcome them down from the mountain.

Prior to the final climb to the top, they rested at what is known as Base Camp Two, a whopping elevation of 11,500 feet. The total elevation of the mountain is 14,411 feet. Upon reaching Base Camp Two, they went to sleep at roughly 6 p.m. in preparation for waking up at 1 a.m. to complete the climb. They slept on ice glaciers in tents.

Prior to turning in for the night, Kay shared a few thoughts about the climb:

“We are heading to bed now for a 1a.m. wake-up call and the start of our 14 hour ascent and descent back down to Paradise Trail Head. Guides gave several warnings about points to turn around and go back down. We already have one person on our team that has decided they have had enough adventure and will be remaining at base camp two with one of our five guides. Our lead guide said we need a minimum of two guides to summit. I have spent a lot of time thinking about why I am doing this...

At first it was an exciting adventure celebrating 40 years in business. Then it became something I needed to prove to myself as I trained for so many months.

Now though, it is completely carrying the hearts, souls and dreams of my team Torklift, God willing, to the summit and back.

It is not just the highest point I have ever been but the highest honor to make what is certainly the most epic adventure a reality for my team.”

-Torklift International President Jack Kay

Columbia Crest

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Torklift to Summit Mount Rainier

MT. RAINIER, Wash., — The Torklift International team is making their ascent to the top of Mount Rainier right now.

Torklift President Jack Kay and Assistant Marketing Director Sheryl Bushaw began their climb to the top this morning.

The pair is climbing the mountain because they have a craving for adventure.

If they complete their journey to the top of the 14,411 foot mountain, they will plant the Torklift International flag at the peak and announce a new mystery product to be called, “Summit.”

Kay and Bushaw are the last climbing team permitted on the mountain for the season as the weather becomes too treacherous for climbing. The climbing team is called Omega. They will be battling various terrains as well as the potential for altitude sickness.

The climb will entail crossing crevasses that are hundreds of feet deep, darkness and cold weather. They are expected to summit on Tuesday. Their descent down the mountain will conclude at Paradise Trail Head where they will be greeted by Torklift International staff. 



Torklift International President Jack Kay and Assistant Marketing Director will conclude their descent on Mount Rainier at Paradise Trail Head pictured above.

Good luck Jack and Sheryl, everyone is rooting for you!


Follow the adventure on our Facebook here 

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Ain’t no mountain high enough: Torklift to trek to the summit of Mt. Rainier

Washington state’s famous Mt. Rainier, Photo Credit: Jonathan Miske

Baby steps
As my mother rounded up a rowdy group of teenage boy scouts, she patiently kneeled in front of me to help me shove my little hands into a pair of snow mittens. Amidst the anticipation and excitement of the crew, we all circled up and prepared to depart on a short hike through fresh powder in Mt. Rainier National Park. I was nearly nine years old. snow-suitTorklift Sheryl in the makingRaised in the Pacific Northwest, national forests and the outdoors had always appealed to me, so tagging along with the troop of seven boy scouts didn’t bother me one bit. After all, who can say no to a great adventure? As we approached a clearing on a hillside, we prepared to start the day’s project. The goal was to build a traditional style igloo and ice caves for an overnight stay. By the end of the day we had three impressive snow dwellings that served as warm shelter throughout a chilly night.

When we left the snowy borough at sunbreak the next day, I took a moment to soak in my surroundings. I remember the crisp mountain air, the stillness of the peaks and the shear beauty that lie across the serrated horizon. Yes - I was hooked. Little did I know that one day I would return to that majestic mountain. Scout’s honor – I would’ve never imagined that I would perch my feet atop its highest point.

What the hike – are dreams reality?
You might be wondering, what is the purpose of ascending the most glaciated peak in the contiguous U.S.A? Over a decade has passed since building snow caves on that very mountain and somehow I’ve found myself yet again on the verge of another notable quest. Call it an urge for adventure, but for some reason Torklift President Jack Kay thought a trip to the summit of Mt. Rainier would be a perfect way to celebrate Torklift International’s 40 years in business come 2016. I suppose a hike of this magnitude represents much more. Seeking adventure, gaining perspective, challenging ourselves both mentally and physically and pushing beyond our limits. Summiting Mt. Rainier is a personal journey, even amongst a team of climbers.

summit-rainier-jackJack Kay hiking to Camp Muir
on Mt. Rainier
With professional guidance from International Mountain Guides, Jack Kay plans to summit Mt. Rainier by the end of the month, the tallest volcano and fifth highest peak in the contiguous United States at 14,410 feet above sea level. As a journalist and adventurer, I’ve been given the opportunity to accompany Jack and document the journey.

Not only does the ascent mark the celebration of Torklift’s 40th anniversary, but also highlights the announcement of a brand new product.

“The product will remain a secret until Sept. 29, when the summit is reached,” Kay said. “While I can’t tell you what the product is yet, I can tell you it will encompass storage, security and will work as a universal product.”

Any idea what this product will be? Be sure to follow our journey to find out!

joel-hikingThe chosen one
Over the course of the summer a few Torklift employees met up to hike some of the breathtaking trails the state of Washington has to offer. After all, our business is all about seeking adventure. Among others this included Jack, Operations Manager Joel Crawford and myself, as I love to hike and literally jump at any chance to get outside. On one of the first hikes we went on I realized my shoes were so worn that my foot had hit the rubber on the other side of the soul. Hike much? I guess it was that moment I realized an upgrade to actual hiking boots was a necessity.

(Right Image: Operations Manager Joel Crawford befriending a chipmunk on a hike of Mount Si)

fast-fun-ice-pickFastGun turnbuckleThe original plan was for Jack and Joel to achieve the mighty summit of Mt. Rainier. As a family owned business, Joel is also Jack’s nephew. When envisioning these two on the mountainside I can’t help but chuckle to myself as I picture them using a FastGun turnbuckle as an icepick.


joel-sherylJoel Crawford and Torklift Sheryl About two months prior to their scheduled ascent, Joel pulled me aside. Knowing how much I enjoy hiking, he began to explain to me that he might have underestimated the level of commitment training for Mt. Rainier would require. With a family of three beautiful children and a manufacturing facility to run during peak season, Joel simply said to me, “As much as I want to do this, I would like you to go in my place.” Squealing like a little girl at an N’Sync concert, two things followed simultaneously: Not only was I fidgeting like a Mexican jumping bean, but my hands tightly clasped in front of my chest as if I turned into a cheerleader that just chugged three red bull energy drinks. With my apparent new set of “wings” and maybe a tear in my eye, I gave Joel a big hug and graciously thanked him for such an amazing opportunity. As Torklift sponsors my amazing journey and once in a lifetime adventure, it was now my duty to prepare myself, as my life depends on it!

When preparation meets opportunity
T-minus two months and I’d find my feet (hopefully) on the summit of Mt. Rainier. Jack has been training for this hike for over a year, and I had a little less than 8 weeks to get my stuff together. On my first hike for “training,” Jack and I went up to Paradise in Mt. Rainier National Park. Since we were limited on time, we ventured up to Panorama Point where bright glaciers and gorgeous wildflower meadows were flourishing. We were surprised at the lack of snow.

My signature jump for joy at Panorama Point just above Paradise on Mt. Rainier

So far, our hikes to help us prepare for our big ascent have been an adventure in itself. In addition to rigorous physical training regimen, we frequently hiked to Camp Muir, the first base camp of Mt. Rainier that sits at 10,080 feet elevation. On one of these outings, the two of us approached a rather picturesque stopping point.

jack-squatThe infamous “Jack Squat” photoWanting to document everything, I asked Jack “Can you take a photo of me?” The clouds parted just enough to reveal the mountaintop. Jack-pot! (No pun intended) As Jack crossed the trail and slowly squatted down to take the snapshot, a woman standing behind him says with gusto, “JACK. SQUAT.” My jaw dropped. The look on Jack’s face was pure confusion. He slowly turns his head around back toward the woman. What are the odds? As both of us are now blatantly staring at her, Jack simply says “My name is Jack.” Turns out she was exclaiming as she took a picture “I can’t see jack squat.” Needless to say, we all got a good laugh out of that one.

I’ve recently discovered another hobby of mine: glissading (pronounced gliss-sade-ing). In areas of snowy conditions like Mt. Rainier, glissading is a maneuver to descend a steep snow-covered slope on your bum. I may have a hidden talent (or a pair of slick pants) as I’ve been able to gain some serious speed when sliding down the mountainside. So much so that at one point I went airborne and bowling-balled into Jack’s legs at the bottom. Not my most graceful of moments, but also good for a few laughs once Jack yanked me out of the ice river I had continued to plow into.

Sadly I didn’t capture my epic collision, but take a look at a clip of Jack glissading:

jack-sheryl-hikeJack Kay and Torklift Sheryl prepping for Mt. Rainier hikeLeaps and bounds
With the unseasonably warmer weather this year, until recently Mt. Rainier has experienced a lower than normal snow pack resulting in a large amount of exposed rock rather than snow. Climbing Rainier will involve different techniques to safely reach the summit. With elevated threat for avalanche and rockslides, our primary concern is altitude sickness since the affects of altitude can affect anyone regardless of fitness level.

Follow our journey! After months of training (or a year on Jack’s part) we're less than a week away from the highly anticipated trek to the summit.

Day 1: Sunday, September 27th
· Depart for Camp Muir at 10,080 feet elevation

Day 2: Monday, September 28th
· Skill Sessions
· Move to second camp, Ingraham Flats at 11,100 feet elevation

Day 3: Tuesday, September 29th
· Summit day 14,410 feet elevation

With limited access to technology, we will be sharing updates as much as possible. We are hoping for excellent weather conditions and a safe, successful trip. Stay tuned for the announcement of a new Torklift International product. We are looking forward to the big reveal and planting the Torklift flag upon the summit!

Add us on our Twitter and Facebook to follow our trip updates.

Happy Hiking,
Torklift Sheryl



sherylWritten by Sheryl Bushaw:
As a graduate from Arizona State University with a B.A. in Journalism and emphasis in Public Relations, Sheryl is a passionate writing professional with focus in areas of copy writing, social media and creative design. She is a travel enthusiast and explorer-extraordinaire with a zest for life.

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