Faculty Focus: Art Huseonica

Art Huseonica Aims High

By Alice Manning |   August 2009

Art Huseonica , Faculty

Computer Studies
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!”