Challis, Idaho, native McKinsey Bruning grew up with the Salmon River in her backyard, “born and raised doing all things outdoors.”
Despite that, she’d never climbed nearby 12,662-foot Mount Borah.
“I wanted to save it for something really special,” Bruning said. “I was actually going to climb it a couple years ago, but I just didn’t feel ready mentally.”
Climbing was her mom’s passion. Cindy Van Pelt was an avid climber who traveled the world climbing mountains. She died of breast cancer in 2000, “when I was a little girl,” McKinsey said.
But on Friday, McKinsey, 29, made her way to the summit of Idaho’s tallest peak for a very special occasion — her wedding. McKinsey and her now-husband Jordan Bruning, 30, were joined by Alex Amar, a childhood friend from Challis who’d become ordained and flown from Alaska to officiate, and McKinsey’s brother, Matt Van Pelt, who’d come from Arizona. After several hours of hiking, McKinsey and Jordan were married at the summit in a simple ceremony.
“It was my idea,” McKinsey said of the mountaintop nuptials. “We’ve been together 11 years. We didn’t want something fancy and big. We wanted something intimate and something that had a lot of meaning behind it.”
McKinsey’s something borrowed was an orange and magenta Patagonia anorak her mother had worn while summiting the mountain with Matt two decades ago.
McKinsey and Jordan, who live in Pocatello, met through a mutual friend from Challis while in college at Idaho State University. McKinsey is a stay-at-home mom for the couple’s two children, daughter Hartley, 8, and son Cache, 7. Hartley and Cache didn’t accompany their parents on the hike but got to participate in the weekend festivities when their uncle Matt, a pilot, flew them over Mount Borah later.