Faculty Focus: Art Huseonica
Art Huseonica Aims High
Art Huseonica , Faculty
School of Undergraduate Studies
Whether escaping a resurgence of magma from a volcano or climbing one of the world’s most dangerous mountains, Art Huseonica is no stranger to adventure.
An avid mountaineer, Art has been on numerous expeditions in Japan, California, New Hampshire, Colorado, and Iceland. In 1991, he narrowly escaped an active volcano in Iceland when molten lava from Mount Hekla melted the rubber on his boots.
He has some other unusual hobbies, as well. His wife, Karen, is a diehard NASCAR fan, and the two have graduated from the Richard Petty Racing School and from pit crew school. In addition, Art is a student hot air balloon pilot, trained as a senior crewman for launch and recovery operations.
Flight restrictions in Maryland, following the terrorist attacks of September 11, halted Art’s ballooning adventure. In 2004 he returned to his first love, mountain climbing. Art trained religiously with weekend hikes of seven miles on Sugarloaf Mountain in Maryland. To build stamina, Art carried a 50-pound backpack.
Because he had trained in New Hampshire’s Mount Washington, infamous for its severe weather conditions (some scenes in the movie Everest were filmed there), Art decided he was ready to tackle Washington State’s Mount Rainier, the highest glacial peak in the lower 48 states at 14,411 feet. His team established a camp at 10,000 feet and he was at 11,500 feet on his way to the summit when bad weather forced him to abandon the climb.
Far from being discouraged, Art packed his schedule for the next 18 months with training climbs and exercises in preparation for an ascent of Alaska’s Denali (also known as Mount McKinley), North America’s highest peak at 20,320 feet. Training and climbing with mountaineering and climbing professional guides is the only way to get accepted onto a credentialed team for advanced climbs, and Art planned to be ready: He scheduled two days of Mount Washington in December 2005, when the weather would be the worst, four days in the Colorado Rockies, one week in glacier training in the Alaska Range, and two weeks in the Andes in Ecuador, all leading up to the final, three-week assault on Denali.
He also plans to return to Mount Rainier, where, as he put it, he still has some “unfinished business.”
If it ever gets too overwhelming, Art can turn for encouragement to his friends Ed Viesturs, a prominent American mountaineer, and Erik Weihenmayer, the first blind person to climb Mount Everest.
In fact, Weihenmayer already shared some sage advice with Art, “Do like I do,” he said. “Don’t look down!”