After discovering the Needles, in the southern Sierra in 1969, while backpacking along the Kern River with his family. Dan took friends Joe Brown and Dan Wurt and pioneered the area. He introduced the area to Fred Beckey and the rest is history. Dan, along with Fred and Mike Heath named the great towers Magician, Warlock, Voodoo Dome, etc (see Mike Heath and Beckey in Climbs & Expeditions - 1971 American Alpine Journal). Dan was on the first ascents of Magician, Warlock, and Voodoo Dome (Pea Soup and Lightening Bolt on Voodoo), and the nearby Hermit - Please see American Alpine Journals (1971). Below: Dan on what was probably the first ascent up the spine of the Magician in 1969 with Joe Brown - naming it Sidewalk Magic. Joe Brown photo
Dan's long record of climbs includes three ascents of Yosemite's giant El Capitan. The first of those ascents was the Dihedral Wall with another teenager Jerry Yasavage. Both were 19 years old and it was the Spring of 1972 (see our links page - Yesavage). During the Fall of the same year Dan climbed the Triple Direct with another partner. During a ten day clear weather break in June of 1977 Dan soloed the Leaning Tower in one day and then climbed El Cap's Dihedral wall again in 5.5 days solo. Dan trained hard to be able to do these things. Dan may have been one of the first to explore artificial climbing wall technology with walls of his own in the late 60s. His specialty was mantling and his mantle board could be tilted to any angle, including overhanging, and he had interchangeable handholds. Even as a teenager Dan modified his own climbing hardware and even made aluminum bolt hangers for Fred Beckey. He also enjoyed running and could run a 5 minute mile without competition or 2:09 half mile (all-comers track meet half-mile Boise 1975), and do 1,000 chinups in 11 hours during El Cap solo training. One-arm chin-ups were a specialty too - something he picked up from Galen Rowell. Even while still in High School, in high school weight training, Dan could do chin-ups with 100 lbs hanging around his neck. The big wall solo climbing came at the end of a frustrated cross-country skiing career ( although he attempted the Dihedral solo in 1975 ) that ended with the drought years of 1976/77. 1977 was also the year he started doing business under the label Alpine Style after the climbing season was over. Below: After soloing El Cap in 1977
When Dan first arrived in Seattle in 1979 he had left Alpine Style behind and worked with Mike Schonhoffen Packs for a brief period before returing to Idaho to start over with his own company. After again returning to Seattle, Dan worked as a production consultant for Jim Whittaker's and Jim O'Malley's BECAUSE IT'S THERE company in the midst of starting up his own company again. After Because It's There, Dan's company produced all of the equipment for Outdoor Research during their first 3 years and worked as a consultant for them. That's many thousands of first aid kits, gaitors, insulated bottle holders,........Much of what Dan taught OR made them them a successful company. Dan's company name changed to McHale & Co. in 1983 when Dan realized many of the successful pack companies used the name of their founder on the label. In 1985 Dan swore off contracting and McHale Packs became a custom pack company with Pam Brown in 1985. To this day Dan and Pam still work together!
Below: Dan (on left ) and Joe Brown just before climbing Church Tower in 1969 with Fred Beckey in Sedona, Arizona. Fred Beckey Photo.
Below: Dan at The Old Boise Bootwoorks in the mid 70s
Dan says it's the years of experience with external-frames coupled with the complete inadequacy of the so called "soft packs" of the 70's that got him involved in building packs. For 2001 he says, the world is going to get to experience the same thing all over again with frameless beltless packs! Part of Dan's business in the mid 70's included putting frames and belts on many of those frameless packs!
During 1993, pack testing took Dan to the summit of Mt. Rainier by four different
routes including a snowboard descent from the summit on the 4th of July with John
Goddu. He also climbed Mt. Baker four times studying the seasonal changes of the
Coleman glacier. A four-day SARC attack in the North Cascades, across the Eldorado
Ice Cap from Primus Peak to the Cascade River, was the highlight though. You can
send for the unedited movie!
years and many packs later brings us to 2000. Because of a shoulder injury Dan
took up a more serious running/jogging schedule and concluded the year with a
number of 5k and 10k races, 5 half-marathon races, and 2 marathons! These were
his first marathons aside from cross country skiing in past years. The first and
fastest was the Capital City Marathon at 3:45:46. The Fall Seattle Marathon was
2002: The new website and getting new packs online has kept everyone BUSY. Dan got a copy of Dreamweaver. Look out! The tricky business of marathon training still has it's grip. Dan went to Vancouver BC the weekend of May 5 to run the 1/2 marathon and ran the full marathon in 3:49:31 with only 175 miles of training since the Fall Seattle Marathon. The work year ended with another great trip to the Sierra. Climbing Olancha Peak in a day was one of the first things on the list and then there was fun stuff like doing the cable route on Half Dome without the cables but using the cable anchor posts for pro. By mid October Dan and a friend had Cathedral Peak all to themselves just before the big storms hit. Below: Work never stops! Dan modifying a cuben Fiber McHale Pack while on vacation in Bishop, CA.
2003: Dan says he can't remember most of 2003 so this will get filled in as he does but it did include the must do vacation to the Sierra. He tested a CubenFiber P & G S-Sarc going into places like the Palisades and even dragged it up Medlicott Dome in Yosemite to see how it would hold up!