Robert Link Trust Summits!

Campaign Status – Closed

Our inaugural project wqs fundraising to help Robert Link get hip replacement surgery so he could resume his storied career. We are aimed to raise $30,000 to help cover the cost of the surgery, physical therapy and all other related expenses.  Mission accomplished!

RoboClimber has reached the Summit!
      Thanks to everyone who helped make this happen
                and most of all, thanks to Robert for inspiring us a


Anonymous – thanks for your $5000 donation!

Tracey and Ray Bobo – thanks for your $3000 donation!

Jim and Tina Ortman – thanks for your $2000 donation!

Gregg Fugate/Fugate Ford-Mazda – thanks for your $2000 donation!

Gary Meggs – thanks for your $1000 donation!

Richard, Jamie and Jacob Villalobos – thanks for your $1000 donation!

Laurence Lewis – thanks for your $1000 donation!

Robert Gries – thanks for your $1000 donation!

Andy Mondry – thanks for your $1000 donation!

W. Hall Wendel, Jr. – thanks for your $1000 donation!


Dianette Wells

Phil Scott

Martin Zemitis

Alan Tabor and Wendy Walsh

Joe and Marjorie Horiskey

Pam Gammon

Vaughn McQuary

Jeffery and Sharon Guddat

Nolan Fritts

Robert Schmidt Jr.

Bill Dow

Terry Kraft and Steve Bush

Sturdy Stitching Upholstery

Alpine Ascents International

Kurt Sunderbruch

Kathryn Dernham

Keith and Sharon Lindaas

Robert Vanbuskirk – Vans Upholstery

Fred Alldredge

Hearing Voices

Justin Nyberg

Rob Carter

Robert Bartsch

Jill Smith

Jack Gilbert

Larry Elswit

Ed Viesturs

David Schiff

Thomas Betor

Alan Truitt

Michael “Ole” Olson

Jean-Michel Valette

Kurt Gusinde

Larry Harrison

Barbara McClelland


Lee Meyers


Michael Matelich

Jeffery Peters

Andrew Mergen and Maria-Kate Dowling

Dr. John M. Church, Jr. and Beverly Church

Rick Stoner

Marcy Avery

Scott Stout

Michael Lindaas

Dane Springmeyer


Robert Link – Health Status Update

September 1, 2012

“I am writing this to let people know how my situation is progressing. I had surgery done at the University of Utah by a first rate surgeon on May 18th. This is the same date that Mount St. Helens erupted thirty two years ago which I felt would happen to me if I didn’t do something about the pain in my hip. I can now say that the surgery was a success. Most of the necessary damage, where they dislocate your hip and cut the head of your femur off to replace it with a ceramic one not to mention how they modify the pelvis to attach the nylon cup, is now mending very well. The biggest challenge to date is to not re-dislocate the hip since the ligaments and tendons have been stretched and they are what holds the whole program together. 

I have been diligently going through my rehab exercises and I recently saw my surgeon for a follow up exam August 9th. He took X rays and was very pleased with his work as well as myself. He told me that I am cleared to start training within reason but that it takes 6 months to a year for all the soft tissue to fully heal.  Naturally I have already experienced a couple of minor tendon strains in my knee. I am still working on trying to be reasonable. I tend to push it, when a reasonable person would listen to their body. My healing however is progressing very well and I have been swimming, biking, and even a little hiking.

 It feels as though I have been in yet another storm of a life time but it looks like the weather is clearing and I will be able to get the expedition moving in the right direction again. I truly appreciate all the help and support. I am working hard to make a full recovery to get back to the mountains.”


May 2012

First and foremost, many thanks to those who have offered, contributed, and/or donated to the Robert Link Trust already. The last few weeks have been somewhat of a rollercoaster or as Robert put it, “It seems to me like the world started spinning faster.” Robert’s hip was getting progressively worse by the day, so some friends got together and decided to try to change this path, creating the Robert Link Trust. Then, in mid-April, Robert and his family moved to a new location in Bend, Oregon and on May 7, his mother, Jane Elizabeth Link, passed away.

The SlingFund fundraising email blast went out and Robert’s friends and family quickly rose to the occasion. Generous offers and donations, small and large, started coming in. Coincidentally during this time, John Cumming, a very close friend of Robert’s, contacted him on a whim while flying over Rainier to see how he was doing. Robert and John had guided together on Rainier for many years. Robert told him about his hip and “(John Cumming) invited me to come to Utah where he lives and to see an orthopedic surgeon from the University of Utah where I could get cutting edge surgery on my hip. Due to the early positive response from the donations to SlingFund I took him up on the offer.”

Robert made travel plans to see Dr. Pelt and then fly to Bozeman to visit family and attend his mother’s service. “I expected to be assessed by the doctor and then get an appointment for surgery in the next couple of months due to his extremely busy schedule.” While at the assessment Robert was informed that there had been a cancelation for surgery the following week and was asked if he would like to fill the spot. Robert noted, “I must admit it put me in tears, the reality of everything washed over me, there was a light at the end of the tunnel and it was no longer an oncoming train.” When Robert flew to Bozeman for his mother’s service, his brother in-law Jim noted (regarding his good fortune with the doctor) that his mom “must have gotten upstairs and started kicking ass.”

Robert was scheduled to be the first surgery of the day. “They gave me something to relax me at 6:30 a.m. in my room. I dozed off what I thought was for a few moments. I woke up and said this doesn’t look like the operating room and the nurse informed me that no it wasn’t and I was in the recovery room the operation was done. All I could say was WOW.” He was also told that his hip had deteriorated where bone had ground on bone, so much so that they had to add an inch of length to his leg when they put the hip in.

Robert stated, “In my opinion the University of Utah Hospital is first rate. They had me up and taking a short chaperoned walk five hours after the procedure. Their staff is very upbeat and knowledgeable, but not aloof. Their fine work has really helped me with the progress in my recovery. Now the real work begins for me. I need to work hard on the rehab and training but not overdo it and make a mistake. I feel very fortunate to have all the support I have received and I want to make this right (and) pay it forward. The funds are all going towards the expenses related to this event. My goal is to support my family and rehabilitate myself to get back in to top guide shape in the next six to eight months. This will allow me to return to the mountains that I know and love.”

We really need to continue this fundraising process and reach our $30,000 goal and hopefully beyond because getting the surgery was just the beginning. There are still months and months of physical therapy treatment and future medical visits, as well as the continued growing pile of medical bills, but we are off to a great start. Robert has already begun the physical therapy process and is at home in Bend, rehabilitating at a local facility. If you have not donated yet, please think about doing so now. We could really use your help. The response so far has been truly inspirational. Thanks to everyone for your time, energy, consideration and generous contributions. Please help continue the momentum through your offers and donations and by spreading the word of this fundraising effort.

The SlingFin Crew

Encouraging Words

“Thank you so much for helping my brother.”

“More than happy to help out my long time friend. He deserves it and has earned it.”

“I understand that many athletes like Robert have been able to resume their careers after this surgery. Tell him I love him (but tell him not to get mushy on me) and my best wishes are with him.”

“Good Luck + Get Well Soon!”

“Check’s in the mail. Give my regards to Robert, and let him know that he’s always welcome if he finds himself near Boston.”

“Knowing Robert, he will recover in no time, so, to all of those summits around the world, be ready because he is coming back !!”

“Get Robert back on the mountain getting more climbers to the summits.”

“Go for it Robert!”

“Heal Quickly!”

“Hope you are well soon.”

“My thoughts are with you and hoping to join you again for a great adventure somewhere. You have many people who love you!”

“We need you back on your feet!  Speedy recovery”

“My best to you as you get this done with the same battle attitude that got you up so many great peaks. I look forward to having a beer with you. Take care”

“Best of luck and fortitude in your recovery Robo. Thanks for your inspiration over the years.”

“Hope your surgery goes well and you can get back on the mountains.”

“Keep on climbing. Thanks for everything. I am assuming this is all going to pay off a massive bar tab, so have one for me.”

“He was an amazing mentor on some of my first climbs as a guide. Hope he heals well!”

The “Nocoats” are thinking about you. Good Luck on your recovery. Hope to join you on another adventure!!

So happy you were finally able to get your hip replacement! Look forward to more “Robo tales” in the future. We would love to see you in the Adirondacks! 🙂

Just heard about the fund and will send $$ asap. Forget the climbing with you, I had plenty already … how much for a day at The Bird with Me and P. Whitaker? I figured we could rent a dump at the bottom of the Canyon again and pretend that you two are still on Snow Safety – you in?

What is the Robert Link Trust

What is the Robert Link Trust?
SlingFund’s inaugural project is fundraising to help Robert Link get hip replacement surgery so he can resume his storied career. We are aiming to raise $30,000 to help cover the cost of the surgery, physical therapy and all other related expenses.

Who is Robert Link?
Robert is a professional mountaineer and President of Mountain Link, an international guiding service out of Bend, OR.  Mountain Link offers high quality instruction focused on the latest mountaineering techniques, while remembering to enjoy the mountain. Robert is also a Design Advisor for SlingFin.

Robert Link Bio

as of October 2014

Climbing Resume
300 summits of Mount Rainier (14,410′)
21 expeditions on Mount McKinley (20,320′)
1 expedition on Mount Hunter (14,235′)
5 expeditions to Everest (29,035′) (Summit on the most successful Everest Expedition in History)
Kangchenjunga (28,208′) fifth American to summit the third highest peak in the world
Cho Oyu (27,766′). Lead guide for 100% successful expedition via the Tibet side.
Dhaulagiri (26,795′). Group reached 25,300′
4 successful guided climbs of Kilimanjaro, Africa
15 expeditions on Aconcagua, Argentina (22,835′)
13 climbs of Cotopaxi (19,348′)
13 climbs of Chimborazo (20,701′)
Guided 6 climbs of Popcateptl, Mexico (17,800′). Has been closed over 15 years due to volcanic eruptions
Guided 22 climbs of Pico de Orizaba, Mexico (18,700″)
Guided 17 climbs of Ixtaccihuatl, Mexico (17,342′)
Guided 6 climbs of Illimani, Bolivia (21,003′)
Guided 8 climbs of Huayna Potosi, Bolivia (19,975′)
Westface of Jahntugan, Russia (14,728): First American ascent with Ed Viesturs.
Guided 2 climbs of Mt. Elbrus, Russia (18,501′)
Italian side of the Matterhorn

Wilderness First Responder
U.S. Avalanche Level II
Leave No Trace Trainer

The term “seasoned mountain guide” often conjures up an image of a tough and temperamental veteran of altitude who has seen it all and lived to tell about it. But anyone who has ever been a client of Robert Link knows that there exists another kind of guide who, besides an unyielding concern for safety, is generous with encouragement and whose interests go much further than simply how many clients have reached the summit this year or that. Soft-spoken and genuine to a fault, Robert is known for his dedication to helping clients achieve their goals. Central to his philosophy is the idea that a guide can be much more than just a guide; he or she can also be a teacher and a friend.

Robert began his climbing career at age seven when he climbed Mount Adams with his father. Since that time he has summited Mount Rainier over 300 times and climbed extensively throughout the world, leading numerous successful expeditions in Nepal, Tibet, Argentina, Bolivia, Ecuador, Antarctica, Peru, Mexico, Russia, Italy and Alaska, to name a few. His climbing resume lists dozens of successful ascents on such high-altitude giants as North America’s McKinley and Orizaba, South America’s Aconcagua, Chimborazo, Illimani and Cotopaxi, and the Himalaya’s Kanchenjunga, Cho Oyu and Everest.

In 1989, he was the fifth American to summit the North Face of Kanchenjunga one of the sacred summits and the third highest in the world . He summited the North Col Route on Everest in 1990 with climbers from China and Russia as part of the International Peace Climb the most successful Everest expedition to date it still stands in the Guinness Book. He lacks just one peak (Carstensz Pyramid or Kosciuszko, depending on who you ask) to achieve success reaching the highest summits on each of the seven continents.

Robert is known for his skills as a professional guide, combining a knack for teaching mountaineering techniques with a thorough, logical approach to safe guiding. People who have been on trips with him have remarked on his calmness under pressure, his love for cultural history, his ability to forge group solidarity and his genuine enthusiasm for seeing his clients realize their goals. Robert likes nothing better than to put his experience and knowledge at the service of those who share his passion for the mountains.

Robert lives in Bend, Oregon.

Robo Tales

{ Excerpt from “Sundays with Robo” By Devon Brown}

In the mid 1980’s Robert Link was a member of a July expedition on Denali. The trip was lead by Joe Horiskey, with Jason Edwards and Robert as the two assistant guides. Upon reaching the the 14000 ft. camp, they came upon two climbers from Munich Germany who were in extremely bad shape.

The German team was a group of very capable climbers who had simply exhausted themselves by making multiple attempts to reach the summit – refusing to retreat once they had reached Denali pass at 18000 ft. The two had bivouacked at the pass and made several attempts to summit pushing the extreme snow, high winds and severe cold. The mountain shunned their efforts every time. Finally they managed to retreat back to the 14000 ft. camp on a whim and a prayer.

One of the German climbers was suffering from severe pulmonary edema. Robert was certain of this because when he visited him in his tent, the man couldn’t sit up and his breath smelled like death. His face was swollen like it had been in a bees nest and his fingers looked like well cooked hot dogs. The wedding ring on his hand looked like an over tightened radiator clamp on a very hot hose. 

There was no question to Joe, Jason and Robert that the only way for these two to ever see their families again was to get them down and off the mountain immediately. It was the very end of the climbing season and they were the only two parties at 14000 ft. Understanding that everyone had a heavy nine hour day reaching camp, Joe asked Jason and Robert to take them down immediately. Jason and Robert understood the gravity of the situation. It was simply life or death.

Jason and Robert took the packs and gear of the two climbers, stacking it on top of their own packs. Robert told me it was one of the biggest loads he had ever carried, two packs plus an extra full sled load. The Germans were barely able to walk much less carry anything. The pace was excruciatingly slow down to the 11,000 ft. camp which made the loads even more unbearable. Upon arriving at the camp they decided to brew up some Top Ramen, even though hours of tough climbing lay ahead to reach the landing strip at base camp. Cooking the Ramen turned out to be the right decision. The Germans were top rate climbers and extremely tough,  and after an hour and a half of brewing up coffee and food their recovery was phenomenal. When it came time to strike out from camp, it took everything Robert had to stay ahead of them. Naturally, Robert stopped and gave them back their loads which they were more than happy to take.

Upon reaching base camp, Robert and Jason dropped off the climbers and rested for four hours before heading back up the mountain. The grizzled Alaskan fellow manning the landing strip wanted to reward the heroic feat by giving them a shot of whiskey. Robert told me this was a big mistake, “I was burping up what felt like battery acid for the first hour.” Jason took off at basically a slow jog so they could get back to the group as soon as possible. They made the journey in twelve hours flat; a journey that normally takes at least three to four hard DAYS of hard climbing.

When they arrived in the evening, the two were so out of it they could barely communicate. Joe allowed them to rest the next day while the group carried on. They made to high camp the following day and then on to the summit.

 “That was one hell of a trip.”-Robo

97 Cho-Oyu Himalayan Expedition
September 24-30, 1997


Author and Expedition Leader: Eric Simonson
Guides: Robert Link and Jake Norton (assistant)
Doctor: Steve Greenholz
Summit Sherpas: Phinjo and Ang Passang
Participants: Chris Horley, Kim Gattone, Laury Lewis, Mike Dunnahoo, Andy Mondry
Cooks: Pemba and Passang Nuru

The 1997 post-monsoon season in the Everest region of the Himalaya was largely a bust. Dozens of teams failed on Everest from both the north and south sides, and all attempts on Nuptse, Lhotse and Makalu were also rebuffed. A few miles a way on Cho-Oyu, however, a number of teams were well positioned when a window of marginal conditions opened. Among the expeditions to reach the summit was an International Mountain Guides guided party lead by Eric Simonson and Robert Link.

We started up on September 24th, to Camp I (20,600′ or so) on a nice day. During the night at CI, the weather turned brutal with high winds on the upper mountain. I think the jet-stream touched down. In the morning we could see CIII getting raked by the wind, and CII was also getting blasted. We heard on the radio that the teams at CIII were bailing out, and we could see climbers coming down from CII… so… we decided to stay put. Good thing, as the winds continued, and the climbers coming down reported -30 degrees temps and 75 mph wind.

The 25th was better, and we climbed up to CII (around 23,000′) without any problem. The ascent of the icecliff went smoothly since we had all been up it before. We noted that conditions had changed up high with the hard winds. Now the snow surface was firm, which is good cramponing conditions, but with all the wind transport, there was also a lot more windslab, especially hard slab.

The 26th was again pretty good. We all climbed to CIII (around 24,500′.) At the same time, we watched several other teams going for the summit. We got to CIII early on the afternoon with time to melt water and rest before the big day! We wanted to get to bed early. During the “night,” several members sniffed a little of their oxygen, but most of us decided to put up with the headache and dull brain feeling and save our bottle for the summit attempt.

We woke up at 1am and started brewing. It always seems to take a long time to get ready. This morning was no exception. Complicating matters was the fact that the wind was picking up. By the time we were ready to walk, it was about 4am, and there was a stiff breeze blowing… colder than hell. For the first hour, we climbed in the dark by headlamp. We were each wearing full down gear, either a complete suit or pants and parka, along with insulated overboots. At the first break, I put on my mittens, which I rarely need to wear (I stay pretty warm and usually just need ski gloves.)

As the sky lightened, we saw lots of clouds below us and above, big dark bands sweeping across the sky. The wind was stripping snow off the summit. I thought the weather looked pretty ominous, and like I said, it was pretty damn nippy. We kept plugging along, climbing fixed ropes through the yellow band (a rocky step about 100′ high.) Above, the slopes were slabby. It was good cramponing, but the slab would sometimes break underfoot, and you would punch through. Since we were on the northwest side of the mountain, we didn’t get the sun until our second break, about five hours after we started.

What a difference a little sun makes! I ate a little food and had a slurp of warm water out of my thermos, and put my sunglasses on under my ski goggles. The wind was still whipping but now it was a bit warmer, and I could start to feel my toes and fingers. We plugged on, everyone climbing together. The group was doing well, everyone able to keep up. We were all breathing O2 at the rate of two liters per minute.

When we hit the summit plateau, we had our third break. The wind started to die down a bit, and the day was looking good. We were getting lucky! I turned up everyone’s O2 to 2.5 LPM since we were looking fat on gas. It takes about 45 minutes to get across the summit plateau which is a wavy shoulder that culminates in a hump. I think a lot of people say they climb Cho-Oyu, but don’t actually go all they way. You know when you are on top when you can see Mt. Everest. What a view… The trilogy: Everest, Lhotse, and Nuptse are just sitting there, about 20 miles away and they are at eye level. Incredible! It was about 11am.

We only stayed on top for about 15 minutes, taking photos and doing the summit thing. As a guide, this is where I get nervous as hell. I just want to get out of there in the worst possible way. Before starting down, I turned up everyone’s Os to 3 LPM, because I wanted everyone super strong and psyched to get their butts down.

And down we went! The windslab was brutal going down, with a lot of punching through… conditions that can really poop you out. Coming down through the rock bands and on the steeper places we had everyone turn in, facing the slope to back down. This is the way to go when the snow is funky. Even if your step breaks out, you can stop easily.

By the time we got back to CIII, it was about 3pm, and everyone was pretty beat. No time to collapse in a heap though. We kicked butt and got the camp broken down as the wind started picking up again. By the time we left CIII, it was starting to nuke.

We got to CII just at dark and all bailed in to brew. The wind really was starting to blow, but it was great to be in the sack listening to it in a well pitched tent.

The night turned into an epic. Gusts hammered us like crazy. We didn’t know it until the next day, but up at CIII tents were getting shredded by winds well in excess of 100mph. The parties who were one day behind us were trashed, with most of the tents at CIII destroyed by the wind. CIII climbers were forced to endure a wicked night with the nylon of their destroyed tents beating on their faces.

We had our little epic too as one of our members awoke midway though the night with snow blindness. Kim Gattone had taken off her goggles on the descent and was paying the price. Snow-blindness, while temporary, is excruciatingly painful. While plenty strong, Kim would be unable to descend in the morning due to lack of vision.

It was still blasting in the morning, but we decided to get things going nonetheless. Guides Robert Link and Jake Norton, along with doc Steve Greenholz, would stay at CII with Kim another day to let her eyes get better while I headed down with Mike Dunnahoo, Andy Mondry, Laury Lewis, and Chris Horley. After brewing for the morning, we headed down about noon, getting to CI about 3pm. Laury, Chris, and Andy were doing pretty well and decided to keep going to ABC, which they did, arriving at dark. Mike was beginning to show some signs of minor frostbite on his hands, and we decided that it would be better to spend the night at CI rather than turn it into an epic.

On the morning of the 30th, Mike and I descended to ABC from CI and Robert, Kim, Steve, and Jake headed down from CII (Kim’s eyes were much better). By the evening, everyone was back at ABC, tired but happy. What a great feeling… a full stomach, a warm bed, enough oxygen in the air to breath… it really puts everything in perspective.

The fact that we were 100% successful on Cho-Oyu this autumn is a credit to a terrific team and staff, and some good fortune when we needed it. It has been a pleasure working with climbing leader and guide extraodinaire Robert Link, assistant guide Jake Norton, summit sherpas Phinjo and Ang Passang, and cooks Pemba and Passang Nuru.

This morning we ate about four dozen eggs and drank about six thermos jugs of drip coffee. Now we are hanging out listening to tunes and doing email, telling lies and getting our stories straight. We made it this time. We are happy. Next time maybe we’ll be a day late and a dollar short and get our butts kicked.

If it was a sure thing, it wouldn’t be worth doing.


Robert has a unique ability to stay calm under pressure, this coupled with his love of cultural history, and a genuine enthusiasm to help see clients realize their goals make him a successful guide. An example of his dedication to his clients was shown while leading an expedition to Bolivia’s Huayna Potosi. Somehow on the way to base camp the group’s food had been lost. In order for the climb to continue on to the summit the group would have to go a week without food, unlikely odds for success. Robert was not willing to let this summit dream die for his clients. Within two hours he had managed to put his fishing skills to use (with the help of a two year old PowerBar and some dental floss), he pulled a 27 pound Bolivian Fleece Trout out of a nearby stream. The team made it to the 19,975’ summit.