Protecting a son's memory: Afton author Dan Seftick will discuss memoir about son’s climbing death
When he gives a reading from his memoir "Real Mountains," Dan Seftick does so as a parent.
"I guess I don't really consider myself an author, just a grieving dad trying to make sure his son is remembered and loved," said Seftick, who lives in Afton with his wife, Sue.
The book, published last fall by Beaver's Pond Press, pays tribute to Seftick's son, Gregory Seftick, 31, and a friend who died in an avalanche April 16, 2011, in Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming.
"Real Mountains" also chronicles the agony Seftick and his wife endured when they learned their son was missing. They traveled to Grand Teton to meet with authorities during the seven-day search for their son and his friend, Walker Kuhl. As the days went by the rescue became a recovery effort.
"My heart will break if Gregory is dead," Seftick writes, "but I can't imagine leaving Grand Teton National Park without him, without knowing his fate."
On Easter Sunday, the bodies of Gregory Seftick and Kuhl were discovered buried under 13 feet of snow. The two, both seasoned backcountry skiers and mountaineers, had died in their sleeping bags after the avalanche bore down on them.
Seftick said it has gotten a little easier in the five years since his son's death, but that the pain never goes away.
"At first it was very therapeutic," he said of writing the book. "As time went on and you get to the nuts and bolts of all the steps involved in publishing a book, it just became a lot of hard work. There are other aspects involved. I didn't even think about having to write my own bio or write my own synopsis of the book for the dust jacket flap. It's all foreign to me."
His son's memory lives on. At Stillwater Area High School, the Dr. Greg Seftick Wilderness Scholarship was established. Seniors who are on the school's alpine ski team are eligible for the $1,000 scholarship. A bench and a tree memorialize Seftick at St. Olaf College in Northfield, where he graduated in 2002.
Seftick said he and his wife hope to do a reading at Grand Teton National Park.
"I look forward to it. That's our park. Everybody's different, but for my wife and I it's very special," Seftick said. "It was one of Gregory's favorite places on Earth, so we feel very close to him in the mountains."
The book tour will also take them to Morgantown, W.V., where Gregory Seftick completed his residency after graduating from the University of Minnesota Medical School.
"His colleagues there have been very supportive," Seftick said. "We considered them our West Virginia family. On their own they started the Dr. Gregory Seftick medicine fund with the West Virginia University Foundation." They also named the residents' lounge after Gregory Seftick.
"You just kind of try to focus on what you have instead of who is missing," his father said.
Proceeds from the book will go to: the Grand Teton Association; the Access Fund, a nonprofit rock climbing advocacy group; the St. Croix Valley Foundation, administrator of the Dr. Greg Seftick Wilderness Scholarship Fund; and the West Virginia University Foundation, administrator of the Dr. Gregory Seftick Wilderness Medicine Fund.
If you go:
The Sefticks will conduct a reading and signing at 3 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 14, at Eat My Words Bookstore, 1228 Second St. N.E., Minneapolis, and 10 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 28, at the Lutheran Church of Peace, 47 S. Century Ave., Maplewood. For more information, visit Gregseftick.wixsite.com/realmountains.