There are moments in life where we encounter individuals who have led lives of titanic experience. Lives whom history called on for daring and courage in the midst of great opportunity or crisis. As the road continues to take us south we paused just outside of Los Angeles to visit with one of these treasured individuals.
Orv Medstad, in his spry 92 years seizes life with absolute tenacity. On the morning of our visit he had “pushed it hard” as he describes, hiking six miles in the San Gabriel Mountains behind his house. For quickly passing hours we sat with Orv in his great room adorned with peak topping photos, war medals and artifacts from five different continents. Speaking from his worn leather chair he paired a noble humility with some of the most captivating stories I’ve heard. Stories that took us to a beach landing in France during World War II, a frenzied push deep into Europe alongside General Patton, the liberation of a Jewish concentration camp and the eventual defeat of the German war machine. As a boy from a small town in Iowa the advent of World War expanded his geographical horizons and displayed to him the full spectrum of the human ability to exhibit good and evil.
Upon return from the conflict in Europe, Orv attended the University of Southern California for his undergraduate education and Dental School. In the years following he built a successful dental practice, started a community banking institution and remained a devoted Trojan football fan. This period of Orv’s life set a path where family, faith and civil outreach formed as pillars of lasting focus.
Then at the age of 60, Orv found climbing and a passion for the mountains. Leaning on his physical gifts and friends turned “rock mentors” he ventured far beyond the local crag to places such as the Brooks Range in interior Alaska and the East Face of Mt Whitney. One of these adventures took Orv to the Chilean region of Patagonia where my Father spent a month with him climbing and trekking in the mountains. The stories from the times these two shared wove themselves years later into the fabric of my own childhood and set a foundation for adventures a generation later.
Our time with this incredible man was both an honor and inspiration. His parting words as we left his home that evening lamented the fact that he couldn’t venture with us for yet another foray of snowy peaks and exposed rock. He told us if we didn’t end up driving back through on our way home he would fly to Seattle to hear the stories and see the photos from the trip…unbelievable! Orv Medstad through his character, values and pursuit of a full life infected us with his passion and provided an incredible individual to look to as we continue to forge our own adventure and purposed filled lives.