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Seth Waterfall

Date of Surgery: 8/27/2015
Update (6/2016): Seth completed his rehabilitation program and returned to guiding full-time.

Phote_S.WATERFALLAbout Seth

I live in Enumclaw, Washington on the northwest corner of Mount Rainier National Park.  I began my alpine career while in high school.  I used alpine and cross country skiing to train for cycling and upon entering university I realized that I need to learn to climb in order to keep pushing myself as a backcountry skier.  I then became hooked on climbing, especially ice climbing and spent several winters pursuing that passion.  Ouray, CO and Field, BC were both winter homes for me over the years.  I decided to pursue mountain guiding as a profession after visiting Rainier and choosing to make my year round home in the Pacific Northwest.

Career Background

I’ve been working as a guide on Mt. Rainier for twelve years.  I’ve been to the summit of Everest 3 times as a guide, Denali 4 times, Vinson Massif 3 times, Kilimanjaro 14 times and many other mountains around the globe.  I am also an AMGA Certified Ski Guide and my wife and I own a small ski guiding service, Tahoma Ski Guides, based out of Crystal Mountain Ski Area in Washington State.

Treatment Procedure and Recovery Plan

I underwent an L5-S1 discectomy to relieve pressure on my S1 (sciatic) nerve.  Nerve impingement resulting from a bulging disc in my spine had caused a loss of strength and control in my left leg along with a substantial amount of pain.  Immediately after surgery my pain was reduced and I have made a full recovery. I had an initial post op recovery of 3 weeks and then began a two month physical therapy program.  Throughout my recovery process I have made steady progress in both the strength and coordination of my leg.  I have not had a return of any of my previous symptoms.


"The Kees Brenninkmeyer Foundation made it possible for me to undergo this medical procedure with the ability to know that the financial security of my family would remain intact. Before I applied to the foundation I had put the surgery off and denied the severity of the symptoms due to the financial burden that undergoing the treatment would bring. I am forever grateful to the Foundation, the Board Members and especially the staff for being supportive, kind and encouraging throughout the process. "

- Seth Waterfall