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Mike Dobie '05

Alum creates rock-climbing destination in China

Nine years ago, Mike Dobie '05 did the unexpected: He moved from the Pacific Northwest to China to teach outdoor education, explore and develop rock-climbing routes.

After studying athletic training at Whitworth and starting to mountaineer in 2007 with friend Josh McDowell '08, Dobie's interest shifted to rock climbing, which quickly turned into a passion. "It doesn't feel like work to me," he says. "More like an art."

Dobie got his first taste of world travel through Whitworth's Seminar in Sports Medicine program in Japan. "After that I knew I wanted to go international again," he says.

Once in China, Dobie soon heard about sandstone rock walls in the rural province of Yunnan. He headed for Liming, an area in Yunnan being developed for tourism. After receiving government permission allowing access for climbing, "it was full-on first ascents and exploration," he says.

Dobie began developing climbing routes and within a few years established Liming as an international climbing destination. "I see developing rock climbing in China as an opportunity and a service," he says. "There is now a lot of opportunity for the Liming community to do business."

Dobie spends part of each year working as an athletic trainer at Boeing in Everett, Wash. The rest of the year he is creating and improving climbing routes in Liming. "The process of exploration and hard work and in the end watching another person enjoy the route is satisfying to me," he says. "It contributes to something bigger than myself."

Dobie's story appears in the fall 2019 issue of Whitworth Today magazine.

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