(November 19, 2006) Ч Kevin Flynn said the sleet and high winds that greeted him and his wife when they reached the summit on an otherwise simple climb of Mount Kosciuszko in Australia were "kind of fitting." It was the seventh of the famed Seven Summits for the 49-year-old mountaineer from Pittsford, putting him in an exclusive international club that numbers fewer than 115, according to EverestNews.com.
"It wasn`t the nicest day," Flynn said after returning to the United States from his Nov. 7 ascent and vacation. "It was a very changeable day."
In other words, it was a mountain day.
Changes in the weather have accompanied Flynn and his climbing partners to the summit of each of the continental high points. It was a 14-year journey for the co-owner of the Martino Flynn advertising and public relations agency. "Climbing the Seven Summits was not a lifelong goal of mine but rather a dream that began after I summitted Aconcagua (in 2001) and one that certainly seemed attainable after reaching the top of Everest (in 2004)," Flynn explained. In fact, Flynn wrote in his book Mount Everest: Confessions of an Amateur Peak Bagger, which came out earlier this year, that those around him Ч his wife, Maggie; business partners Ray Martino and Chris Flynn (his younger brother); and climbing partners such as Gary Smith of Penn Yan and this reporter Ч knew he was going to go for the Seven Summits before he did.
Only 113 mountaineers are credited with having finished the Seven Summits, according to EverestNews.com. That number finished the list via the Australia continental high point of 7,310-foot Kosciuszko. There is a separate list of 87 climbers who have done the Seven Summits using Carstensz Pyramid, a 16,023-foot peak in Papua, Indonesia, which is the highest mountain in Oceania. Forty-five climbers are on both lists.
Flynn is the second Rochester native to accomplish this feat. Skip Horner, who grew up in Irondequoit, was the eighth climber (and second American) to do the Seven Summits via Carstensz Pyramid. The Montana resident, who finished his seventh on May 12, 1992, claims to be the first guide to have led others up the Seven Summits. The Seven Summits became a peak-bagging objective after Dick Bass, a wealthy Texan, was the first to finish the list (using Kosciuszko) on April 30, 1985, and wrote a book about it. Flynn, like many mountaineers, read that book and had it in the back of his mind as he checked off mountain after mountain.
The bagging of the seven began unsuccessfully for him on Denali (or Mount McKinley) in 1992. He returned to the 20,320-foot Alaskan peak (North America`s highest) in 1993. Kilimanjaro in Tanzania (Africa) was next in 1998 and Aconcagua in Argentina (South America) followed in 2001.
That`s when the pace picked up for Flynn.
He failed in his first attempt on Everest (Asia) in 2002, but did Elbrus in Russia (Europe) in 2003 and returned to Everest to make a successful summit bid in 2004. Flynn went to Antarctica last year to climb Vinson Massif, leaving only an Australian vacation with his wife, herself an Adirondack 46er.
"It was a nice, relaxed climb," he said about the five-hour round-trip hike. "It`s a pretty trail, all above timberline. But it`s moderate grade at the worst. It`s pretty simple, all but paved."
Flynn joked that he made the rooftop of Australia "sans supplemental oxygen. I`m a tough hombre."
"It was a bit anti-climactic, but cool in a way because Maggie got to go," added Flynn, who started climbing in the Adirondacks while he was in college. "It was nice that she was there; she was so supportive the whole way."
Maggie Flynn said: "I am very proud of him that he reached his goal. Not everyone reaches their goals in life. This one, though, puts him in quite an elite club." Flynn climbed each of the Seven Summits with what we call "FWA" Ч Full Wife Approval. This is a prerequisite for any climbing adventure for members of the "Live to Tell the Tale" club.
He said he may one day attempt Carstensz Pyramid, as well, and he has promised that his mountaineering days are not behind him. As long as he has FWA, of course. "I would consider giving him FWA again as long as it won`t take him away for 10 weeks at a time and 8,000 meters above sea level," Maggie Flynn said, referring to the commitment made to do Everest.
Despite the wind and sleet that greeted them on Kosciuszko, the Flynns sipped champagne on the summit and toasted the accomplishment. Kevin admitted feeling "a tiny bit melancholy" when he reached the summit of Kosciuszko. "It was the end of a long journey," he said.
Rochester Democrat and Chronicle