Couple first to climb Oregon's 100 highest points

Couple first to climb Oregon's 100 highest points
File photo of the Three Sisters in central Oregon.

SALEM, Ore. (AP) - Pam Otley and Jay Avery have been at the top of Oregon for most of the past three years.

The couple recently became the first climbers on record to summit the 100 highest points in Oregon.

Otley, 53, and Avery, 57, were presented with T-shirts printed with the elevations of the 100 tallest peaks in the state by the Chemeketans outdoor club to honor their achievement.

Both are members of the Salem club, and completed their mountain-climbing journey by roping up to the top of Twin Peaks in the Wallowa Mountains.

"We're finished, it's great, and we're real happy, but it's been such a huge part of our lives," said Otley, as she flipped the pages in her diary. "This is the time of year when I should have my maps out doing our trip planning. I have this emptiness. I don't have anything I can plan."

Otley, from Corvallis, is an assistant manager at the Oregon State University bookstore and Avery, from Portland, is a warehouse supervisor for John Deere.

They're considering climbs up the highest points in the remaining Oregon counties that were not among the top 100.

"The way it works out we only have about 15 left to do," Otley said. "That's a very low-level goal, and we should be able to do them as training hikes."

They thought about climbing the top 100 peaks in neighboring Washington state, but decided many of them are too remote and she and Avery are feeling their age a little.

"We're just too old and cranky to do that," she said.

But they did take a trip to California to climb Mount Whitney at 14,505 feet and Mount Langley, which stands 14,026 feet tall.

Of the 100 highest points in Oregon, 37 are in the Wallowas. In Otley's opinion, that's also where the most scenic peaks are.

"There are other beautiful places all across Oregon, but there's just so much there," Otley said.

"The Pueblos are deserty and all have roundish tops, the Steens are very pretty, but the Wallowas have such a variety of geology and vegetation, and then you get to a summit and there's just mountains, mountains, mountains around you that can't be beat all those white granite basins. It's very much like the Sierra in some places. I could be a spokesperson for the Wallowas."

This summer might be one for more backpacking.

"We'd like to go into the Enchantments and the Alpine Lakes wildernesses in Washington," Otley said. "Or maybe we could do Washington's 25 highest, or the highest 10. You know, lower your goals."

Meanwhile, the couple have bought a two-person kayak, "a new sport we can buy gear for," Otley said.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)