Harte Bressler was a boy of 9 when his father, an accomplished mountaineer, died at a research camp on the 14,410-foot summit of Mount Rainier.
Ten years later, on a day that he later realized was Father's Day, Harte summited, for the first time, the mountain that had claimed his father.
And each summit of Rainier since then, with the most recent on July 28, Harte has thought of his late father.
"Every time I go up there I have an emotional point of memories," said the Bellingham resident, now 62. "I never got a chance to climb with him. That's a regret."
Calder T. Bressler, an associate professor of geology at what was then Western Washington College, was 40 when he succumbed to high-altitude pulmonary edema - in which liquid built up in his lungs - on Sept. 3, 1959.
He had been there to join in the research for Project Crater, an experimental station set up on the summit of Rainier to study how people would respond to long and hazardous isolation, as part of the lunar landing program.
Two other men attempting to drop more oxygen cylinders for the ailing Bressler died, too, when their small airplane crashed into the side of the mountain east of Point Success, according to "The Challenge of Rainier" by Dee Molenaar.
"He was quite an accomplished climber in his own rights," Harte said of his father, who was one of the founding members of REI and who, as part of the Ptarmigan Climbing Club, made a number of first ascents in the North Cascades.
Club members are also remembered for making the first traverse of what is now known as the Ptarmigan Traverse.
"He's very proud of his father," said Jan Bressler, Harte's wife. "He's never been one to talk about these things. I just think it's interesting, and it's worth sharing with people."
Despite Calder Bressler's death on Rainier, Harte and his brother would grow up to become climbers.
"Climbing is in my genes," said Harte, a certified public accountant who is principal of Metcalf Hodges.
"Mountains and Harte, they're inseparable," Jan Bressler said.
When Harte first climbed Rainier on an expert route that took him past a feature called Cadaver Gap, he initially experienced "raging headaches" at high camp at 10,000 feet. Those headaches were a symptom of the same pulmonary edema that killed his father. He was able to combat it by drinking plenty of fluids and by taking aspirin and anti-inflammatory drugs, Harte said.
While his father died during the first Project Crater, Harte would be part of the second Project Crater, which ran from 1970 to 1972 and re-established the research camp on the summit to study climatology and the effects on human physiology. Project members also searched and mapped steam caves around the crater.
In 1970, Harte already had climbed Rainier twice. His role in Project Crater II was to serve as the mountaineering guide, to haul things up and down the mountain for the scientific camp.
Mountaineer Bill Lokey, whom Harte knew, was the leader of the second Project Crater from 1971 to 1972. Lokey also studied the lake and nearby tunnels found in a grotto beneath the west crater.
The two men remained friends and fellow climbers over the decades.
It was Lokey who contacted Harte and asked if he wanted to summit Rainier again, a reunion climb in which the men would take up Lokey's nephew and two rangers/volcanologists who wanted an up-close look at the steam caves and tunnels after hearing Lokey lecture about Project Crater I and II.
Instead of the two days they had taken in their younger days, this climb occurred over five days. The last time they climbed Rainier together was in their Project Crater days, according to Lokey, now 65.
Harte said they took longer because of their age and because the other three people in the climbing party hadn't summited Rainer. Also, Harte said, he had been more sedentary since falling while ice skating at the Sportsplex and crushing his pelvis three years ago.
"There was a bit of an unknown there because I hadn't really tried it since the accident," Harte said of climbing.
But they reached the top of Rainier on July 28 via the Emmons Glacier.
It marked Lokey's 39th summit of Rainier and at least the 10th for Harte, who also has climbed Mount Baker more than a dozen times and was involved in Bellingham Mountain Rescue for 25 years.
(Over the years, Harte has climbed most of the major mountains in the Pacific Northwest and has been on numerous extended expeditions to the Alaska Range and the Juneau Icefield, including the 8,000-foot Mount Bressler named for his father.)
Even with the more relaxed timeline for the Rainier summit, Harte said, the group encountered a problem leaving the glacier for the five-mile trail walk to White River Campground. That was when Lokey fell, twisted his ankle and cut his knee.
The group taped his ankle and laced his plastic boots tight. It turned out he had a spiral fracture of the tibia bone below the boot line, and needed four stitches in his knee.
As for the view from the summit of Rainier - from the mountain that has fascinated him since his father's death - it was beautiful looking out to Puget Sound, seeing Mount Baker, and much of the Cascade range into northern Oregon.
"It was a tremendous view," Harte said.
Reach KIE RELYEA at email@example.com or call 715-2234.