Established 14 August 2018

Katja and Stephen on Mt. Baker (June 2018)

Wilderness Chaplains began with the loss of our beloved friend, Stephen Kornbluth. Stephen died in a climbing accident on Dewey Peak in Mount Rainier National Park on August 14, 2018.

Stephen's climbing partner and "mountain wife," Katja, was one of the first to receive the news. In the midst of grief, Katja drew on a decade of experience as a chaplain, ski patroller, and mountaineer. She responded as a chaplain and cared for her beloved climbing community.

As the dust settled, people asked "how did you do it all?" Friends began asking for tips and resources to use in a tragedy. Soon members of local wilderness rescue groups began requesting Katja's "mountain chaplain" services. It became obvious that wilderness crisis response resources were few and far between. 

Inspired by Stephen's memory, Katja resigned from her position in state government. With a handful of notes and unstoppable enthusiasm, she went to work. In the wake of tragedy, Wilderness Chaplains emerged.