Bremerton's Craig Anderson found a love of climbing at the Olympic Mountains and went on to top some of the world's highest peaks
Craig Anderson lived his dreams. As a young man from East Bremerton, Craig looked West to the Olympic Mountains and imagined climbing in the Himalayas.
He ultimately found himself climbing amongst the highest peaks of the world.
Craig, along with the local Scouts and his Father, Willard, ventured into the wilds of the Olympic Mountains on hikes. Especially formative was an early trip along the jagged peaks of the High Divide where he first felt the thrill of the mountains and their considerable challenges and rewards. Craig’s excitement led him to the Olympic College Basic Mountaineering class. There, he was introduced to a vast world of mountaineering through instruction led by Kent Heathershaw, George Martin, Glen Kelse, and others. He went on to climb most of the peaks in the Olympics and Cascades with his high school friend, Dan Baker.
After graduating from East High, Craig attended Bethel College in Minnesota for his undergraduate studies in biology and anthropology, where, ever the athlete, he played four years of varsity tennis. To follow his passion, he enlisted in the Peace Corps to Nepal. There, as a science teacher in the foothills of the Himalayas, Craig came into his element. He learned to speak Nepalese, a skill that would help him attain his climbing dreams.
His Nepali village of Ghandrung sat just below a beautiful unclimbed mountain, Hiunchuli, (21,133 feet) and also in view of the 10th-highest mountain in the world, Annapurna (26,545 ft). With his ability to interface with Nepalis, Craig was able to learn the secret of the approach to Hiunchuli. Along with his wife Anne, he led an entirely Peace Corps Volunteer climbing team to the summit of Hiunchuli in the spring of 1971 during his third year in Nepal.
Word spread of Craig’s mountaineering and leadership prowess, and he soon found himself on an expedition to climb the seventh highest mountain in the world, Dhaulagiri (26,795 ft) in central Nepal. In 1978, Craig was invited by Jim Whittaker to join what became the first American expedition to successfully climb K2 (28,250 ft), the mountain widely known as the most dangerous on earth. Craig, who acclimated well to high altitude, helped forge a new route along the extremely exposed northeast ridge on the border of Pakistan and China. After success on K2, Craig had the opportunity to go on to Mount Everest but felt that he did not want to risk it with young children at home.
Craig and Anne’s dedication to their children’s development is evidenced by their academic and athletic achievements. Their eldest, Maiya, was an inductee to the Kitsap Sports Hall of Fame in 2016 for swimming; second daughter Asha was a multi-sport athlete at Bremerton High School and followed Craig’s path the closest as a climbing ranger on Mount Rainier, ascending many of the mountain’s most technical routes; son Lars was a three-sport athlete in tennis, basketball, and baseball at Bremerton and the 1998 Bremerton Sun Male Athlete of the Year; and son Leif was also a multi-sport athlete at Bremerton and went on to be a national champion in navigation running.
Craig and Anne are still active. You might run into them hiking in the Olympics or identifying plants and wildlife in local parks, gardening, and fly-fishing. They have been members of the Kitsap Tennis and Athletic Club for 32 years where Craig continues to play and promote racquet sports.