LA PLATA, Md. – Everyone has dreams of climbing the mountain and one day reaching the top. However, this Charles County native took that quite literally.
Joseph Facchina, a 43-year-old chop-saw operator from La Plata, saw Mt. Rainier for the first time last May. He then decided that he wanted to dedicate himself to climbing the mountain.
At the time, Facchina was an attorney who practiced Construction Law. For him to solely focus on this climb, he gave up his law practice. He sold what he had, and set out to live in the mountains.
Mt. Rainier is located in the state of Washington, near Seattle. The mountain is 14,411 feet above sea level, which is about 60% of the oxygen you have in Southern Maryland. For Facchina to be able to train and prepare himself, he had to get used to this new environment.
His training wasn’t easy either.
“Physically…it’s a lifetime of training,” Facchina told TheBayNet.com. “From wrestling practice to two-a-day football practices in August, martial arts, and working in a lumber mill; this all contributed to my physical ability. Plus lots of hiking with a 60 lbs pack daily, lifting, and some bag work. The physical aspect is easy, the real training is mental; Specifically, you have to ‘Commit to the Climb’. This means that you are going, and you’re going to give it 100%. Retreat is not an option. Failure is not an option. Once you mentally ‘Commit to the Climb’ there are only 3 outcomes: 1. Victory, 2. Death, or 3. You’re going to reach your physical breaking point/sheer exhaustion. This is quite a lot to take on and weighs on you in the days preceding the climb. If you want the ultimate, you have to be willing to pay the ultimate price.”
However, this wasn’t Facchina’s first rodeo. He began his mountaineering aspirations in 2019 with a solo climb of Mt. Hood in Oregon. He didn’t summit Mt. Hood until 2020 when he climbed with his cousin. Immediately after another climb of Mt. Hood in 2021, Facchina visited Mt. Rainier but didn’t summit.
To Facchina, this was a true test of his ability and character. Choosing to climb Mt. Rainier by himself, was a true challenge for him.
“Other than my 2020 Mt. Hood climb, I climb solo and prefer it that way,” says Facchina. “Climbing alone is a good gauge of your abilities as an individual, the only person that can help you is yourself. This forces you to understand your true limitations, which is the first step in learning your true potential. The mountains don’t lie. They will let you know very quickly if you belong. Please note that there have only been a few dozen solo climbers to reach the peak of Mt. Rainier this year. Solo climbing on glaciated peaks is frowned upon in the climbing community due to the crevasse dangers.”
Facchina left the parking lot around 11 p.m. on Saturday, August 6th. In his bag were some essential climbing equipment such as climbing rope, crevasse rescue equipment, snow pickets, ascenders, descenders, and much more.
Facchina decided to take the “disappoint cleaver route,” which is the site of one of the worst climbing accidents in U.S. history.
On June 28, 1991, 11 climbers were killed in a mountaineering accident. Unfortunately, none of the bodies were ever recovered.
After months of training and ultimate dedication, Facchina reached the summit around 11:30 a.m. on Sunday, August 7th, and descended back down around 9 p.m.
He even made it to the lumber mill the next day for a 12-hour shift.
“I got emotional about 700 vertical feet from the summit because I knew I was going to do it, but I remembered that I still needed to get there AND get down safely, so I checked myself and shut it down,” Facchina said. “By the time I got down, I was too tired to get emotional. But the emotions started to come out over the next few days for sure.”
Facchina made sure to leave his and the rest of Charles County’s mark on top of Mt. Rainier too.
“Charles county is my home, it’s what made me into the person I am today…so I wanted Charles County to get some of the praise and blame,” Facchina told TheBayNet.com.
This will not be the last challenge for Facchina. He wants everyone to know that he will be on a mountain top somewhere on April 24, 2024.
He doesn’t know which mountain yet, but he’ll figure it out.
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