Clean air climber seeks donations

"Next summer Paul Kemppainen wants to look down on the world from the top of Mount Rainier.In getting to the summit, he’s also going to help make the world below a better place to breathe.Kemppainen has to raise $3,500 in donations for the American Lung Association of Washington to be a part of the group’s annual Climb for Clean Air. The event, which brings about 100 people up the state’s tallest mountain, is the state Lung Association’s biggest fund-raiser.Kemppainen, a junior officer at Whidbey Island Naval Air Station, said he volunteered last year to be what they is referred to in mountain-climbing circles as a “yak.” He says he hauled “watermelon, different foods and supplies” for other people to the Rainier base camp at 10,000 feet.But next summer, he wants to be among those who go to the top.Mountaineering legend Lou Whitaker oversees the climbers’ training and the actual climb for the Climb for Clean Air. He has been leading climbs in Alaska and the Himalayas since 1945.Kemppainen is looking forward to the chance to meet Whitaker. Kemppainen said he is fascinated by the legends surrounding Mount Everest and has some experience mountain climbing with family and friends. He climbed his first peak when he was just 12 years old and did his first technical climb at Mount Baker last summer.In a technical climb, a team of climbers rope themselves together as they scale glaciers and cliffs. They climb in the dark, lighting their way with the glow from head lamps. At night, Kemppainen said, climbing is safest since things are at their coldest and most solid state.He enjoys the physical challenge, the teamwork and the beauty of the alpine landscape.“There’s glaciers and giant crevasses. The sun sets and everything is golden,” he said. “It’s mindblowing.”While raising the money may be tough, Kemppainen said it couldn’t go to a better cause. The American Lung Association works to reduce tobacco usage, fights for regulations to ensure clean air, funds research into lung diseases and runs other programs to improve lung health.--------------Lung fundAnyone who wants to help Paul Kemppainen raise money for the American Lung Association of Washington can send donations to:Sea to Sky EnterprisesP.O. Box 2797Oak Harbor, WA 98277-6797 "

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