TIMBERLINE, Ore. (KOIN 6) – The most traditional part of this wedding was the cutting of the cake between bride and groom – never mind that the cake was being sliced in freezing weather and well above sea-level more than 11,000 feet.
In early April, Leora Gregory and Jay Avery exchanged vows on the summit of Mt. Hood, Oregon’s largest mountain.
Leora says she fell “hopelessly and madly in love” with Jay after the two met on a climbing trip. They started to pair up as climbing partners and soon realized their relationship was turning into something more. They are both elite climbers and are members of the Mazamas, a local mountaineering organization. The entire wedding party consisted of other group members.
“I wasn’t sure that it was going to happen until the last 15 minutes when were going up past the Pearly Gates,” Jay says.
Karen Vernier was the minister. It was her first ever ceremony on a mountain summit.
Unlike traditional weddings, which can take up to a year or more to plan, Jay and Leora only had a couple of days. The venue was an obvious choice, but the question was: would Mother Nature allow them on the mountain. On April 9, they started their climb from Timberline Lodge at 6:30 a.m. The weather was clear. With the avalanche survey complete, the green light was given to head towards the summit.
When the wedding and climbing team reached the summit, the clouds and winds started rolling in.
“I was thinking more I can’t believe we’re pulling this off,” Leora says.
It was the coldest wedding ceremony anyone had been to, but one climber wore a skirt under her layers of clothing and another climber wore a tie over his jacket. It was all for the celebration.
“We still keep telling each other, ‘Hey we got married,'” Leora says.
As they stood on the mountain just before Vernier began the ceremony, Leora and Jay dug their “engagement boots” into the snow and ice.
Karen performed a short ceremony. By 2:30 p.m. in the afternoon, after hours of climbing, the couple was officially married.
For the two mountaineers, they couldn’t think of any better way to symbolize their love than exchanging altimeters, devices worn on their wrists that give them the time and altitude and other climbing information.
The couple just got back from a trip to Mexico and are now planning their next climb which will be in Australia.