I met Randall Ercanbrack on a morning walk in Provo’s Rock Canyon. It was early, but he was already coming down off the trails. Come to find out: Ercanbrack chugs up Y Mountain in Provo or West Mountain near Payson nearly every morning, carrying a 35-pound pack and scaling 1,500 vertical feet before heading back down in two quick hours.
I was humbled. Even more so when I discovered the talent and accomplishments behind his ruddy face and friendly, open demeanor.
Ercanbrack spends about half the year running his family orchards in Orem, Genola, and Payson. He’s a fifth generation farmer with about 67,000 cherry, peach, and apple trees on 400 acres. Read more at UtahStories.
During the off-season, the 58-year old heads to the mountains – and I don’t mean the Wasatch Front. He’s climbed many Himalayan peaks, including Mt. Everest (twice), Mt. Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, Aconcagua in Argentina, and most recently Chimbarazo, Cotopaxi, and Antisana, three of the highest peaks in Ecuador.
His love of the journey and his joy in “getting out” started young. Before he could drive, his mother (who died in 1985 of Lou Gehrig’s disease) would drop him off in Lindon and give him a dime to phone home. He’d call when he got to Sundance, after hiking up and over Mount Timpanogos.
“The summit is over-rated,” said Ercanbrack, as he showed me photos of far-reaching accomplishments and of climbing companions. He paused to remember many; Ercanbrack lost eight friends in the disastrous avalanche on Mt. Everest this April.
“There is joy in the journey, the weather, the travel, the gear. I like to go with someone I love. And there is a certain amount of freedom in getting up and just going.”
The wiry, barrel-chested man told me farming has made him a more patient person and more patient mountaineer. “I work with Mother Nature and Mother Earth every day. On the mountains, it’s very, very challenging. If you try to fight nature, you will die.”