Andy Knapp

Andy Knapp,61, the long time head buyer of hardgoods at Midwest Mountaineering passed away at home on June 22, 2009. He had been fighting against kidney cancer for the past six years.
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Andy Knapp,61, the long time head buyer of hardgoods at Midwest Mountaineering passed away at home on June 22, 2009. He had been fighting against kidney cancer for the past six years. In February, 2009 he entered the hospital for a full bone marrow transplant. His body rejected the process but Andy and his doctors and family continued the fight with several experimental remedies. Andy never gave up.

Andy never gave up during his entire life. Everyone at Midwest Mountaineering knew him as the most persistent outdoor adventurer among us. He bicycled to work every day, even in the foulest of weather, even until the last day before that February hospital stay. He logged more human powered miles on his bicycle, kayaks, canoes, and feet than anyone we know, more than 156,000 miles! Included was a bicycle trip to Alaska and back in 1967, a 500-mile backpacking journey through the Brooks Range in 1972, and a 30-day circumnavigation of Lake Superior in 1996, the first without resupply. He paddled across Lake Superior from north to south. He climbed Mount McKinley, made first ascents in the St Elias Mountains and summited 21,000 foot peaks in Nepal. Andy bicycled in 34 states and 12 other countries, hiked and climbed throughout North America, and paddled extensively in the wilderness waters of the upper Great Lakes area, Baja, Alaska, Florida and beyond. He bicycled from Minneapolis to Canada in one day. He was named the Minnesota Adventurer and Explorer of the Year at Midwest Mountaineering in 2008.

Andy worked for over 34 years in the outdoor equipment industry as a retail buyer. He served on the boards of several industry trade associations and volunteer advocacy groups including serving as president of the Minnesota Rovers Outdoor Club and the Lake Superior Water Trail Association. He wrote two books and numerous magazine columns.

Andy had been the Midwest Mountaineering buyer of camping, canoeing and kayaking products for many years. He literally launched the sport of sea kayaking in the Midwest and established Midwest Mountaineering as the premier source for sea kayaks.


After being diagnosed with potentially terminal kidney cancer in 2003, and, after the initial panic, Andy realized that he must face the uncertainty and pain with the same stubbornness, perseverance, and sense of humor that he put into the thousands of miles of paddling, bicycling, hiking, skiing, and mountaineering adventures. With the help of family and friends, Andy survived two major surgeries, a bout with radiation, and a series of potent drugs, all the while still bicycling and paddling away. He bicycled to Alaska again in 2008.

At Midwest Mountaineering Andy's wealth of hands-on knowledge about what makes good gear great will be missed.

Midwest Mountaineering extends condolences to Andy's family, his wife Denise and daughter Kaitlyn, as well as to the hundreds of other people who were touched by Andy's strong will and total commitment to outdoor fun. He made our lives rich with appreciation of his and our own human possibilities.

Donations for the benefit of Andy's family can be sent to the Andy Knapp Memorial Fund, c/o Midwest Mountaineering , 309 Cedar Ave So., Minneapolis, MN 55454

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