Triple Your Impact - Rod Rolett’s Story

Monday, December 16, 2019

Before his almost 30-year career in investment banking, Rod Rolett (pictured above on the left) was a back country ranger intern for SCA. As we encourage our friends to triple the impact of their gift to SCA, learn about Rod’s exciting adventure that involved keeping hikers safe at the Glacier Meadows campground.

SCA: What three words come to mind when you think of SCA?

Rod: Collaboration. Confidence. Conservation.

SCA: What mementoes do you still have from your SCA days and why are they, in particular, so important?

I served 43 years ago and moved 11 times since that service. Nevertheless, I still have and treasure the black and white photo of our intern team sitting on top of Mt. Olympus. I continued using the leather hiking boots I wore every day during my internship (even on days off) for thirty years after my summer of service. I purchased those boots at REI’s flagship Seattle store on my way to the Olympic peninsula.  

SCA: What is your favorite SCA moment/lesson and why does it still resonate with you?

Rod: Halfway through the summer, my back country supervisor, Sally, asked me to hike with my pack from Olympus Guard Station to Glacier Meadows campground. While the Glacier Meadows ranger took a well-deserved break, I served as his substitute. 18 miles from the trailhead, Glacier Meadows campground offers sweeping views of rocky mountain peaks, deep valleys, forests and snowfields. Glacier Meadows is the last formal campground for climbers who want to brave the Blue Glacier crevasses and climb Mt. Olympus.  

As a back country ranger intern, I assessed visitor preparedness, provided updates on weather and trail conditions, and offered advice about routes and sites. On my third night, I noticed three empty sleeping bags in one hut.  A father, and his two children, had not returned from climbing Mt. Olympus. From the moraine, I could see Mt. Olympus covered in clouds and below the clouds sat the glacier. There were no climbers crossing it, which prompted immediate concern, and I used my radio to report to Bud, our head ranger who lived 18 miles down the valley in a cabin next to the trailhead. Bud said he’d order a search plane in the morning and, between now and then, he wanted me to monitor the glacier and mountain. Soon after sunrise, I spotted three small dots descending Mt. Olympus and heading towards the glacier. The family had built an igloo and stayed overnight to avoid walking off a cliff in the whiteout.  

Two days later, our intern group rendezvoused at the trailhead for a summer cookout and to plan our end of summer climb up Mt. Olympus.  Bud joined us for dinner and told the story of the family who spent the night in an igloo on the side of Mt. Olympus. He wrapped up with words of praise for my role in tracking and reporting the family’s status. It felt very good to be recognized by Bud in front of my supervisor and peers.  

SCA: Complete the following: “The one thing I’m glad nobody knew about back in my SCA days is _____________________?

Rod: I had no experience walking on glaciers or crossing crevasses.

Triple your impact with a gift to SCA today.