(A Clackamas guide has scaled the highest peaks on each of the seven continents)

Clackamas County is now home to a rare sort of mountain climber.

Craig Van Hoy, 46, the owner of Go Trek & Expeditions in Clackamas, on Nov. 20 became one of fewer than 100 people in the world who have climbed the highest peaks on each of the seven continents.

He achieved the goal by reaching the 7,310-foot summit of Australia’s Mount Kosciuszko.

“It’s great . . . that you can say that you climbed Everest and climbed all seven summits,” said Van Hoy, who lives in Clackamas and has been climbing for 30 years. “It’s part of trying your best at whatever you do.

“But, again, you want to be humble,” he said. “Nobody wants to be around somebody with a big head.”

A Web site, www.7summits.com, lists climbers who have reached the seven summits. Van Hoy said he filled out an application, but it’s not that big a deal to him.

After Van Hoy reached the top of Mount Everest last year, after two attempts, he wanted to climb Kosciuszko simply so he could say he had climbed the world’s seven highest continental peaks.

“In the last couple years, I didn’t even think about it, especially with having not climbed Everest — it was back in my mind somewhere,” Van Hoy said. “Everest is kind of the clincher.”

Van Hoy is fluent in Nepalese and Spanish and climbed each of the seven peaks during the past decade with various clients and climbers: Mount Aconcagua in Argentina, South America, 22,834 feet, 1984. Mount McKinley in Alaska, North America, 20,320 feet, 1985. Mount Elbrus in Russia, Europe, 18,510 feet, 1991. Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, Africa, 19,340 feet, 1993. Mount Vinson in Antarctica, 16,864 feet, 1997. Mount Everest in Nepal-Tibet, Asia, 29,035 feet, 2004. Mount Kosciuszko in Australia, 7,310 feet, 2004.

Tim O’Brien, a senior guide with Rainier Mountaineering Inc., an industry-leading guide service in Washington, said the seven summits are “the culmination of American mountain climbing now. It’s the equivalent of the Super Bowl.”

As a professional guide, Van Hoy incurred few personal expenses on his climbs, as companies and affluent adventure clients sponsored each of his expeditions. Journeys to the top of mountains in remote countries can cost as much as $65,000 a person.

Van Hoy’s reputation as a top guide has grown along with his climbing success and knowledge of mountains around the world. Through word-of-mouth, he has cultivated a loyal client base at Go Trek & Expeditions.

“He’s the best guide that’s out there, and I know them all,” said Bonnie Seefeldt, 47, of Sammamish, Wash. Seefeldt has been a client of Van Hoy’s for the past two years and worked with guides at Rainier Mountaineering Inc. for eight years.

“He has made a woman who’s just about ready to touch 50 a successful mountaineer,” she said.

Van Hoy’s encouraging attitude helped Seefeldt, a self-proclaimed novice climber, reach the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro last year.

“He just makes you confident with what you have,” Seefeldt said. “He develops a comfort zone for the average person who really wants to touch the summit. I won’t travel internationally with anyone else.”

Van Hoy’s peers admire his ability to empathize with climbers during their emotional highs and lows.

“His client skills and his people skills are unsurpassed,” said O’Brien, who has worked with Van Hoy at Mount Rainier. “The easy part is the climbing. The hard part is the people skills, and that’s where Craig really excels. He’s got to be one of the nicest guys you’re going to meet.”

O’Brien added that Van Hoy, who holds speed records on various Mount Rainier climbing routes, is a refreshingly humble guide and climber.

“You have to have somewhat of an ego to be a mountain guide,” O’Brien said. “You don’t want to be too obnoxious or overpowering, but you don’t want to be timid, and Craig walks that line perfectly. He’s very humble.”

Van Hoy said that he has always loved the outdoors. His interest in mountain climbing is fueled by his love of experiencing different cultures and countries.

“It adds a much bigger dimension than just mountains,” he said. “People can get so locked into coming home and watching TV and the news and that’s it. I’ve always looked at experience as education and travel being one of the biggest educations.”

When he’s not spending weeks abroad climbing, Van Hoy likes to go canoeing, kayaking or camping with his children Josiah, 7, and Bethany, 5. While his children don’t yet climb, he said, he’d support them if they ever want to climb mountains thousands of miles away. His wife, Malaysone, is a hair stylist and may never be a climber.

“When my kids get a little bit bigger, I hope they can get to the point where they can join me,” Van Hoy said. “I’m trying to talk my wife into climbing Mount Hood, but she’s just not into the cold. She’s just not into the mountain climbing stuff.”

Article written by: CHRIS EHRLICH