By Jay Skurski
Buffalo Bills fan Peter Wolszczak showed his loyalty recently in a unique way.
Wolszack carried a team flag with him that he proudly displayed on the top of Mount Rainier, outside of Seattle.
From Wikipedia, Mount Rainier is a "massive stratovolcano located 54 miles southeast of Seattle. ... It is the most topographically prominent mountain in the contiguous United States and the Cascade Volcanic Arc, with a summit elevation of 14,4111 feet. Mount Rainier is considered one of the most dangerous volcanoes in the world."
Wolszczak, who's originally from the Town of Tonawanda and graduated from Kenmore East and Buffalo State, lives outside Seattle, where he is a computer programmer.
We exchanged a few emails, talking about his Western New York roots, rooting for the Bills, and his family. Here's some of the conversation:
"I have been a lifetime Bills fan. My brothers and I had season tickets during the glory years of the early 90s until a failed professional bowling career and lack of personal goals forced me to look outside of Buffalo for a path. My claim to fame was third place in the 1992 Obenauer Masters, beating Brad Angelo along the way and a handful of 300 games.
"I met my wife, Kelley Cline, a few years later and her career took me on a variety of living locations in the U.S. landing in the Seattle area, about six years ago. Microsoft hired me in 2001 and it's also one of the reasons why we ended up in Seattle. We now also have a 2-year-old son, Christian."
Wolszczak had twice previously tried to climb Rainier, unsuccessfully. He explained why it was so important to him.
"If you're lucky enough to be in Seattle during a clear day, the mountain is an imposing site almost anywhere in the area. ... Imagine being in Buffalo and being able to see something dominating your view on the east side of Rochester. Hopefully that gives you some scale.
"Ever since I started visiting the area for work, I've been enamored with Rainier. Just before I turned 40 in 2010, I convinced myself to go for the summit. What better birthday gift than getting yourself in shape? First try, we got to about 11,000 feet. before being turned back due to avalanche conditions. I tried again the following year in 2011. We got to 12,500 feet before 50 mph winds drove us off the mountain."
After going on a shorter hike last summer with a friend, Jim Raper, Wolszczak was able to convince him to come back and try Rainier. The third time proved to be the charm.