West Pierce fire fighter summits Mount Everest for the third time 

After a near-death experience in 2017, Fire Fighter/EMT Josh McDowell faced his fears to ascend Mount Everest for the third time.

June 4 • 2024

Josh McDowell, a fire fighter and EMT with West Pierce Professional Fire Fighters, Local 1488, has once again scaled the world’s highest peak, Mount Everest. This remarkable achievement marks his third successful ascent. 

Reflecting on the experience, McDowell said, “Mentally, it was a great opportunity to kind of go back and face the fears after a near-death incident in 2017 and just kind of come back and work for a different organization than I had in years past in Nepal.” 

For this expedition, McDowell partnered with Climbing the Seven Summits, a guiding company led by a long-time colleague. In both mountain guiding and firefighting, McDowell says there’s a strong sense of camaraderie and a “family-like” atmosphere, where team members rely heavily on one another. 

“With both guiding and firefighting, we must go into ‘work mode’ and rely on our training to navigate challenging tasks,” he said. “Both jobs have put me in life-or-death situations where staying calm and focused is crucial. People count on us, and we can’t let our guard down.” 

I’ve felt immense support and love from my brothers and sisters at Local 1488.

Josh Mcdowell, fire fighter/emt, local 1488

McDowell says the training is another critical similarity between the two fields.  

“At West Pierce, we spend much of our time training and keeping our skills sharp, and the same is true for guiding,” he said. “On our Everest expedition, non-climbing days are spent preparing for the next climb. In both the fire service and guiding, if Plan A fails, we must quickly adapt and move to Plan B.” 

McDowell’s achievement has been widely celebrated by his community and West Pierce Fire Fighters Local 1488. The local posted on social media: “Huge shoutout to brother Josh McDowell! Congratulations on reaching the summit of Mount Everest. Scaling the world’s highest peak once is remarkable but doing it three times is truly extraordinary.” 

“I’m grateful to be a part of Local 1488,” said McDowell. “I’ve felt immense support and love from my brothers and sisters at 1488.” 

Reflecting on physical and mental health, McDowell spoke about the importance of outdoor hobbies for fire fighters. “Hiking, climbing, hunting, mountain biking, or running are crucial for us. Our job is physically and mentally taxing. Being active outdoors helps us stay fit and relieves job stress.” 

Encouraging others to pursue their own adventures, McDowell said, “If you have the means to make it happen, I encourage anybody that wants to do that to do it. It is financially incredibly expensive, but it’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for most people and to be able to stand up there and watch the sunrise and see the curvature of the earth is something that only a handful of people will ever have the opportunity to do.”