Chris was born in Duluth, Minnesota and moved with his family to Seattle in 1979 when his mother joined the faculty of the University of Washington and his father worked for Providence Medical Center. He attended Bertschi and Bush Lower and Middle Schools, and Lakeside Upper School. His love for the wilderness began with family hikes and sailing trips, the Bush Middle School wilderness program, and Hidden Valley Summer Camp where he climbed his first mountain-Mt. Pilchuk-in 1989. His passion for learning through the outdoors intensified during high school, when he provided leadership in the Lakeside Wilderness Program and the Mountaineers Basic course, and climbed Mt. Rainier at age 16, the first of nearly 40 summits. At Lakeside, Chris participated in cross-country, track, orienteering, and the kayak club, took every available history course, and excelled as a creative writer. After his senior year, he became a Rainier Mountaineering Guide in the summers. Despite the demands of mountain guiding, he came home as often as possible to run, kayak, rock climb, sail, and spend valuable time with his family and friends.
Chris was planning to graduate from Stanford in three years, with a concentration in Product Design with the interdisciplinary engineering major, Science, Technology and Society. His first two years at Stanford were filled with cycling for the Stanford bike racing team, volunteering at the Jasper Ridge Biological Preserve, performing with the Improvisations Group, and providing leadership for the Outdoor Education Program. He spent 1997-1998 kayaking the Grand Canyon, traveling and climbing in Guatemala, Mexico, the French Alps, the northern Sierras, and the Mt. Fairweather range in Alaska, and completing a month-long Emergency Medical Technician Course. He viewed the McKinley climb as a transition to working with younger climbers through the Northwest Mountain School. He lived every moment with joyful enthusiasm, passion, kindness and compassionate responsibility to others, yet he was always concerned about safely returning home. These qualities undoubtedly motivated him to try to aid a fellow climber, when severe wind gusts swept him off the West Buttress (16,800 feet) of Mt. McKinley and he fell 2,000 feet to his death.
To honor Chris’s passion for teaching through outdoor experiences, his family established the Chris Hooyman Outdoor Education Fund. The fund, which is administered by The Seattle Foundation, is intended to support youth leadership and wilderness educational experiences, especially to those who might not be able to afford such opportunities.