Notes on Quotes: Waynesville’s Steven Reinhold Selected to Climb Mt. Whitney in California

By Gordon Mercer and Marcia Gaines Mercer | Nov 30, 2012
Steven Reinhold with a Costumed Yeti or Abominable Snowman on a Ski Gondola in Keystone, Colorado.

“The joy and strife of adventure have given me a confident and humble approach to life, which helps me in all my endeavors. I am honored to help raise funds for Big City Mountaineers, which gives troubled youth the opportunity to incorporate these life skills into their future.” Steven Reinhold

Steven Reinhold, an avid adventurer and sports enthusiast from Waynesville, was recently selected through a contest in “Backpacker Magazine” to accompany Jonathan Dorn, the magazine’s editor, along with other world famous explorers and mountaineers in an expedition in California to climb Mt. Whitney. Mt Whitney, at 14,505 feet high, is the highest mountain in the lower 48 states. The goal is to raise funds for Big City Mountaineers, an organization of experienced hikers and mentors who help troubled urban youth of poverty backgrounds develop decision making skills, communication skills, integrity and self esteem through hiking, canoeing and other wilderness experiences.

Steven Reinhold played baseball for Tuscola High and was drafted by the Cleveland Indians. He declined the draft offer in order to attend the University of South Carolina, where he was captain of the baseball team and majored in biology and finance. At the University of South Carolina, he played in the College World Series, helped secure an SEC Championship and made Sportscenter’s top ten plays with a diving catch. A brilliant student, he was accepted into Medical School but found his passions were elsewhere. Steven currently works seasonally at Tara Nova Construction, his family’s business, in Waynesville and spends the other half of the year coaching snowboarding in Breckenridge, Colorado.

Steven was selected for the climb to the summit of Mt. Whitney based on a winning essay and video which demonstrated his abundant skills in hiking, snowboarding, rock-climbing, mountain biking and kayaking and his deep commitment to raising money for urban youth mentoring programs. His love of the outdoors and adventure led him to believe that mentoring through wilderness mountain hiking and canoeing experiences could help troubled youth, who often lack positive role models. Wilderness experiences teach discipline, teamwork, communication skills and help develop self reliance.

Steven’s climb to the summit of Mt. Whitney begins on April 20th of 2013 and will take four days. He will go out West a month early to begin training. He told us that even in April ice and snow are on the trail and temperatures can plunge below zero at night. Mountain ice and snow climbing, warns Steven, can put your life on the line if you are not in top physical shape. Fourteen hour hiking days are not uncommon. The greatest challenge, he believes, is to remain steady and focused. Also, the higher the mountain the less oxygen in the air, making breathing more difficult and making it imperative for climbers to be in top shape.

There are seven men and three women in Steven’s group. To keep their footing, they will at times use ice picks and at other times are roped to a partner to prevent falling into crevasses. Steven ranked mountain climbing as extremely high on energy expended, as compared to other sports. His group will take “The Mountaineers Route” up Mt Whitney, which is the route taken by naturalist and wilderness preservationist John Muir in 1873. It is considered the most difficult route. Steven has already begun training by completing the 72 mile Great Smokey Mountains National Park section of the Appalachian Trail in two and a half days. This included a 32 mile hike uphill that started at midnight.

We are confident of his success on Mt. Whitney!

In order to contribute to his climb for troubled urban youth call Steven at 828-508-6528 or go to his program site: ( All contributions will go to Big City Mountaineers wilderness and mentoring programs. Steven has already raised about $2000 but has a goal of $5,000.


Gordon Mercer is past president and on the Board of Trustees of Pi Gamma Mu International Honor Society and professor emeritus at Western Carolina University. Marcia Gaines Mercer is a published author and columnist.