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Murrin finds it exhilarating to have his head above the clouds

By Jim Fair, Editor
Published on Thursday, July 18, 2013

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Eureka! Jack Murrin reaches the summit of Mount Rainier on July 2.

Courtesy of Jack Murin

Eureka! Jack Murrin reaches the summit of Mount Rainier on July 2.



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Majestic views like this above the clouds on Mount Rainier has Jack Murrin looking ahead to his next mountain climbing adventure.

Jack Murin Photo

Majestic views like this above the clouds on Mount Rainier has Jack Murrin looking ahead to his next mountain climbing adventure.



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Jack Murrin, and his guide, Max, during their climb to the summit of Mt. Rainier.

Courtesy of Jack Murin

Jack Murrin, and his guide, Max, during their climb to the summit of Mt. Rainier.



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An adventurous Jack Murrin shares this photo on his Facebook page.

An adventurous Jack Murrin shares this photo on his Facebook page.



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Jack Murrin finds it exhilarating to have his head in the clouds.

Most days Murrin is facing a screen of numbers that, depending on the project, must balance an annual multi-million dollar budget or fall within a $120 million capital improvement project.

Murrin is the Chief Financial Officer at Greenville-Spartanburg International Airport in Greer.

CFOs don’t conjure up the image of a mountain climber scaling some of the highest peaks in the world.  Murrin happily breaks that mold. “It’s so exhilarating and you feel so alive,” Murrin said.

Murrin said the vistas above the clouds were breathtaking. “The clouds below us was absolutely the high point,” Murrin said. He describes one of his photos: "Sunrise is starting.  See the tops of the clouds below? In a few more minutes, some of them would turn orange in color, but we were on our way and Max (his guide) wouldn't let me stop en route where the really good pictures were!  This picture is getting framed! Awesome!"

Three years ago Murrin climbed Mount Kilimanjaro, the highest mountain in Africa and free-standing in the world at 19,336 feet.

During the July 4 holidays Murrin scaled Mount Rainier, at 14,410 feet is right behind Mount Whitney (14,497) as the tallest mountain in the lower 48 states. The three-day climb saw temperatures fall in the mid-20s. Winds were 30 miles per hour and strong enough to keep leaning climbers upright.

“I did the climb with International Mountain Guides (IMG), one of the best in the world known for their specialty in setting up expeditions to the largest mountains in the world,” Murrin said. 

Murrin, 61, was the oldest of eight climbers and four guides. A retired professional hockey player (goalie), 48, from Toronto was Murin’s tentmate. The rest of the climbers were in their 30s and 20s, Murrin said.

“My lead guide, Max, has summited Mt. Everest three times, and is on their Everest team,” Murrin said. The desired ratio is two guides to a climber. The most junior guide is the first to help climbers, who don’t make the summit, back down the mountain.

There was a rest stop every hour where climbers were force fed to keep up their energy levels. Murrin said he gained two pounds on the climb despite expending 7,000 calories a day.

Murrin said the climbers routinely stopped at 4 p.m. to unpack and set up camp. After eating there would be more training for the next day’s ascent. The climbers got up at 6 a.m. “I couldn’t sleep because of the excitement and altitude,” Murrin said.

Murrin tried to climb Mt. Rainier last year but a pulled back muscle with other complications delayed the trek a year.

“According to our guides, Mt. Rainier is the hardest mountain to climb in the ‘lower 48’ and not really meant for novices, like a few of us,” Murrin said. “That's why they focused on training on day two. The training included ice ax arrest, how to stop if you slip and start falling down the mountain, roped travel and use of crampons.”

“Rainier is far more difficult to climb (than Mount Whitney) because it's glaciated with lots of fissures, crevasses, ice, snow, and climbing obstacles,” Murrin said. One of the climber’s in Murrin’s group did not make it to the summit.

Murrin ranked Mt. Rainier his hardest climb. “It was much harder to climb than Kilimanjaro, for me. Although not as high, and a much shorter climb, the intensity levels were much, much higher, along with the dangers and risks.  Plus, I had never done a technical climb before.”

Murrin said mountain climbing is unique to him in other ways. “This was only my third camping trip in my life. First was Kilimanjaro, the Rainier attempt last year and this one.”

Mountain climbing was a seed planted in Murrin’s mind long ago. “I always wanted to climb mountains when I was younger,” Murrin said. “I wanted to do Mount Everest about thirty years ago. You blink and it’s thirty years ago.”

On a ledger, anchored at the summit of Mount Rainier is written: Jack Murrin, 7:30 a.m., Tuesday, July 2, 2013.

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