“Climb every mountain” is a phrase that, in the household I grew up in, was sung every Thanksgiving when The Sound of Music was on T.V. For Steve “Possum” Tomfeld, it is a life goal. Twenty-five years ago, Tomfeld began climbing as a hobby after a visit to Colorado. He then set a goal: There are 54 peaks in Colorado over 14,000 feet in altitude, and Tomfeld has summited 52 of these 54 peaks in 25 years.
Tomfeld is the only certified rock climbing instructor in the state of Iowa. He climbs recreationally at a rock gym in Iowa City to keep up his skills and train his clients, but he regularly travels to Nevada, Colorado, and the Pacific Northwest to climb. Recently he climbed an 800-foot wall in Nevada, and he will try to achieve the remaining two peaks in Colorado this year.
Tomfeld’s love for climbing turned into mountain climbing as well. He has summited some the tallest peaks in North America, including Mt. Rainier (WA), Mt. Hood (OR), Mt. Baker (WA), and the tallest on the continent, Denali (AK). During his ascent on Denali, he almost lost two toes to frostbite. He raised several thousand dollars for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Fund by climbing Mt. Baker. Tomfeld said, “I would like to climb Mt. Everest someday, but it is very expensive.” Mountain climbing has unique challenges. “Winds can blow up to 200 miles per hour, and when it snows, it’s like being in a giant ice machine.”
Tomfeld’s love for the outdoors is evident in all his ventures. He and his wife Pam own the property in Conesville where the Redneck Revival is held. He is an accomplished welder and metal sculptor. Pam joins him on his rock climbing adventures. Tomfeld said, “She has become quite the climber, too. She got up the 800-foot wall with me a few weeks ago. Climbing has brought us closer together as a couple, I think.”
Tomfeld ice climbs as well. He ascended a face in Idaho that was 1000 feet high. Tomfeld said, “I hope more people in this area will take up climbing. I would love to help them get started. It isn’t hard to get started; there is a good rock gym in Iowa City, and in 13 hours we can be in Estes Park, Colorado, ready to climb the real thing.”