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Originally published Saturday, May 23, 2009 at 8:32 PM

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Washington residents conquering Everest

Climbers from Washington state are making a mark on Mount Everest this month.

SPOKANE, Wash. —

Climbers from Washington state are making a mark on Mount Everest this month.

The Spokesman-Review reports that Kay LeClaire, a 60-year-old from Spokane, reached the summit of the 29,035-foot peak Friday night.

Meanwhile, Rainier Mountaineering Inc., a guide service for climbs on Mount Rainier, said Saturday that one of its guides, Dave Hahn, reached Everest's summit for the 11th time, which it says is a record for the most ascents by any non-Sherpa climber.

Hahn was accompanied by Rainier Mountaineering guides Melissa Arnot and Seth Waterfall, and cameraman Kent Harvey.

Another team of five climbers on the RMI expedition reached the summit on Tuesday. That group included Ed Viesturs, of Bainbridge Island, who reached the top for the seventh time, and Peter Whittaker, son of acclaimed mountaineer Lou Whittaker and nephew of Jim Whittaker, the first American to climb Mt. Everest in 1963.

Another Spokane resident, 66-year-old Dawes Eddy, made it to the summit of Everest on Tuesday.

LeClaire departed Spokane on March 29 for her fourth attempt at Everest in five years. Her previous three attempts were unsuccessful. In 2006, she reached 23,600 feet on Everest, the highest she had previously climbed.

She was with a group of eight climbers and four guides with Alpine Ascents International, based in Seattle.

Dr. Jerry LeClaire, a Spokane physician, said he monitored the progress of his wife's expedition Friday night over the Internet. He said he talked to his wife briefly by satellite phone Thursday night.

"She was coughing," he said, "but, she said, 'feeling strong.'"

Kay LeClaire got a taste of the Himalayas in 1970 on a trek while her family served in Nepal for the Agency for International Development.

"She has hiked and exercised all her life, but only took to mountaineering on a climb of Mount Rainier in 2000 at age 50," her husband said.

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She was "appalled by her own lack of technical climbing skills," he said, so she enrolled herself, her husband and son in the Spokane Mountaineers Mountain School in 2001.

Later that year, the family climbed the first of her "seven summits," Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania.

Kay LeClaire's climbing résumé since includes 30 significant peaks from Alaska's Mount McKinley to Vinson Massif in Antarctica, as well as 10 ascents of Cascades volcanoes from Mount Baker to Mount Shasta.

Copyright © The Seattle Times Company

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