Dolph’s adventures and other non-professional activities are divided into three parts: I) those before he reached the age of 70; II) those at ages 70 until 80; and III) those at age 80 and thereafter.


      1.              Numero Uno*

      2.              Between 1975 and 1981, Dolph explored more than 100 wild caves in West Virginia, Virginia, Maryland, Tennessee, Alabama, Georgia, New Mexico and Mexico with Hugh, Sandy and/or Michele and their caving friends, beginning with Hugh’s 13th birthday, Sept 10, 1975, and continuing for the next 6-7 years. Many of these trips were done with Gregg Hollomon, Geary Schindel, George Parris and/or Don Belling. Some of the more notable of the explored caves were Ellison’s Cave, Fern Cave, Hellhole and Schoolhouse Cave (see Photos).

     3.             Explored El Sotano – Dolph and Gregg Holloman rappelled into El Sotano on December 13 and exited on December 14, 1977 – El Sotano, at 1345 ft is the deepest known pit in Mexico and was thought to be the deepest pit in the world at the time Dolph and his friends, Gregg, George Parris and Don Belling explored this cave (see Photos).

     4.            Summit of Pico de Orizaba – Dolph reached the summit of Orizaba alone on December 21, 1978 (18,491 ft [5,636 m]) which is the highest point in Mexico and third highest point on the North American continent (see Photos 1-7). This climb was preceded by descents into and ascents from Golondrinas (entered on December 6 and exited about 2 AM on December 7, 1978 – Golondrinas at 1098 ft is the second deepest known pit in Mexico. He also repelled into El Sotano and spent the night alone in the small cave at the bottom of the pit. El Sotano, at 1345 ft is the deepest pit in Mexico. [Dolph explored El Sotano on the same dates the year before, 1977]). This trip was organized with George Parris, Gregg Hollomon and several of Hugh’s and Dolph’s caving friends (see Photos).

     5.             El Capitan in Yosemite National Park – Dolph rappelled and climbed the face of El Capitan, 2649 feet, 8 inches, August 13, 1980 which was recognized as the world’s longest rappel on a single rope at the time this was accomplished. The trip was organized by Don Belling and Brad Johnson and completed with Don, Brad, Dolph’s nephew, Carter Hatfield and several others. Dolph and six others did the rappel and Dolph and five others did the re-climb. Following this rappel, a local adventure TV program, PM Magazine, did a show with Dolph, Hugh, Sandy, Michele and their friend, Pat Aaron, on rappelling that was first broadcast on April 1, 1981 and then re-played on September 1, 1981 (see Photos). Articles about the rappel appeared in the NIH Record, on November 12, 1980, page 7, entitled “World Record Rappel Set by NIH Researcher” and on February 9, 1999, pages 1, 6 and 7, entitled “The Adventurous Life of Dolph Lee Hatfield” and in the El Paso Herald Post, August 21, 1980, p. B1 (see Article 1, see Article 2, see Article 3).

 What was Dolph’s greatest adventure? Numero Uno was reserved for the adventure where all was risked, but this goal was never reached before his health began declining near his 70th birthday.

    6.             Skydiving (Accelerated Freefall) – Dolph jumped at Hartwood, VA from a height of 10,500 ft and fell to ~4000 ft before opening his chute on August 25, 1991 followed by two additional skydives on Sept 9 and Sept 13, 1991. These skydives were done with Hugh. Hugh went on to have more than 140 jumps, while Dolph was asked to stop jumping by Mary after his third jump.

     7.             Climb of Kilimanjaro, July 12-17, 1993, along the Marangu Route, July 18-23, 1993, followed by safari visits to Lake Manyara, Serengeti and Ngorongoro Crater and finished the trip by visiting Filbert Bayi. This trip was done with Sandy and Peter Worland. All four members of Dolph’s party climbed to Gilman’s Point (18,600 ft) and only Sandy made it to the summit (19,341 ft) on this initial climb.

     8.             Rappel of New River Gorge Bridge, 876 feet, on Bridge Day, October 11, 1986, with Don Belling, Brad Johnson, Hugh and George Parris, and again on October 19, 1991, with Hugh.

     9.             Bungee Jumping – Atwood, VA, May 10, 1992 with Hugh, Cherryl and George Parris.

     10.         White Water Rafting – Upper Youghiogheny, August 12, 1996 with Sandy and Jeff (see Photo).

     11.         Rafting the Grand Canyon – 280 miles, April 27-May 3, 1999 with Michele.

     12.         Scaling High Ropes Courses on several occasions in the mid-1990s with Michele and also did the Skycoaster, Dania, FL, February 13, 1994 with Michele.

     13.         Aerodynamics:

 a.        Parasailing – in Ft. Lauderdale, FL, September 24, 1991 with Michele.

 b.        Paraplaning – August 27, 1992 with George Parris.

 c.         Hang Gliding – Coconut Grove, FL, February 13, 1993 with Michele.

 d.        Glider (flying in an unpowered aircraft)-Hartwood, VA, March 1993 with Hugh.

 e.        Hot Air Ballooning – Morgantown, PA, October 3, 1993 with Mary, Hugh and Cherryl. Hugh skydived from 5200 feet. We repeated this again on November 7, 1994.

 f.          Paragliding – La Jolla, CA, December 8-9, 1994 with Sandy and Michele.

 g.        Flying WWII T-6G Fighter Planes as the co-pilot – April 17, 1996 with Hugh.

 h.        SkyVenture – in Orlando, FL, March 14, 2003, Dolph and Hugh flew in winds of 120 mph in a vertical wind tunnel.

     14.         Auto Racing:

 a.           Stock Cars – Dover Downs International Speedway, July 19, 1996 with Hugh. Hugh and Dolph both averaged over 100 mph around the Monster Mile oval track.

 b.           Formula 2000 Race Cars – Nazareth Speedway, Nazareth, PA, August 10, 2002 with Hugh and Brad Carlson. Dolph, Hugh and Brad finished the day by running the 1 mile track in the low 30 second intervals.

 c.            Outlaw Cars – Mechanicsville, PA, September 29, 2002, drove on a 0.5 mile dirt track with Hugh.

 d.           Stock Cars – USA International Speedway, Lakeland, FL, March 12, 2003, with Hugh. Dolph and Hugh averaged well over 100 mph around the ¾ mile track.

     15.         The Baja and Other Off-Road Races – Dolph and Hugh bought a Volkswagen Off-Road Racing Bug for $2000 in early 1995 and refurbished it at Sandy and Jeff’s home in Tempe, AZ. The following races were run with the Hatfield bug:

 a.        Point to Point 150 in Mexico– Dolph and Sandy drove the 150 mile course in the Pro 5/1600 class on December 7, 1996 with Hugh and Jeff serving as support team and backup. Dolph and Sandy piloted their bug to a second place finish, 2.5 hrs behind the winner as they lost about two hours in having a welding job done on the rear shocks of their race car and the attrition rate was quite high in their class. Our race team agreed that Hugh should be awarded the trophy as he masterminded the race.

 b.        Baja 500 – Dolph and Sandy started the race in Ensenada, Mexico on June 7, 1997 and drove about 20 miles and ~2/3 up a mountain when they were rammed by another racer that knocked them to the side of a more that 100 foot cliff; a tow truck waiting at this point tied the truck’s cable onto the front of the Hatfield racing bug just before a second racer knocked them off the road and they were hanging by the cable to the tow truck looking straight up at the sky. The tow truck pulled them to safety and they began racing again until they got to the top of the mountain and started down the far side. They pulled over to the side of the road to help two other racers whose car had blown a tire. The Hatfield bug caught on fire, apparently due to leakage of gas when they were hanging on the side of the cliff, and they used their fire extinguisher to put out the flames. They assisted the other racers in changing their tire and started racing again. As they had torn a hole in their oil pan when they got knocked over the side of the cliff, they were losing oil very rapidly. They raced to where their support team was waiting and stopped racing after a total of 37 miles.

 c.         The Vulture Mine 100 – Wickenburg, AZ, October 10, 1998, Dolph and Hugh started the race, hit a large cactus and got rammed from behind at the 22.5 mile marker. This incident finished the race.

 d.        Baja 1000 – Dolph and Hugh were pre-running the first leg of the course in the late afternoon of November 8, 1998. They came up over a ridge and were blinded by sunlight hitting the silt on the visors of their helmets. They had gotten mud on their visors by running through streambeds prior to being blinded. As there was a large drop off to the right, Dolph pulled the car to the left when he was blinded by the sun on his silt-containing goggles and they hit a large rock, causing the car to flip, front to back, 3-4 times. The car sustained severe damage to the frame and the left back roof. Three days later, Hugh and the locals had frame bent to its normal shape and the car race ready. At 10:05 AM, November 11, 1998, Dolph and Hugh got the start signal and arrived at Checkpoint 2, 122.8 miles later at 1:50 PM, but with no brakes. Hugh and John repaired the brakes and Hugh and Jeff departed at 9:38 PM from Checkpoint 3 and the 234.3 mile marker. Hugh drove the entire leg with no brakes. After the second repair of the brakes, Jeff took over the wheel and he and Dolph left at 11:07 PM, got stuck in silt beds at 3:00 AM only to have the locals pull them out at 7 AM; they got stuck a second time in the silt beds and the locals again pulled them out. They arrived at Checkpoint 4 at 10:10 AM, 404.2 mile marker, where John and Dick took over at 11:00 AM and drove to a final distance of 567 miles before the front end of the car fell off due to damage sustained in the pre-race crash that went undetected. An article by Karen Gardner appeared in the Frederick News-Post, November 6, 1998, about Hugh’s involvement in the Baja 1000.

     16.         Aconcagua, Argentina – Dolph made two attempts on Aconcagua, 22,841 feet (6962 m), January, 2001 and January, 2005 and failed both times to reach the summit. The first time due to diabetes and the second time due to severe arrhythmia.

     17.         Second climb of Kilimanjaro – Dolph and his nephew, Brendan Wilson-Barthes, climbed the Machame Route (regarded as the second most difficult route for climbing Kilimanjaro) and reached the summit, Uhuru Peak, 19,341 feet (5895 meters), at 8:15 AM on January 21, 2002. They then went on safari to the Ngorongoro Crater and Serengeti where a lion visited Brendan’s tent about 2 AM just after Dolph had left the tent.  

Kilimanjaro Route Min.Days Rec. Days Difficulty Scenery Traffic Rating
Marangu Route 5 6 medium good high **
Machame Route 6 7 high excellent high ***
Lemosho Route 6 8 high excellent medium ****
Shira Route 6 7 high excellent medium ***
Rongai Route 6 7 medium very good low ****
Umbwe Route 5 7 very high very good very low **

    18.         Running with the Bulls in Pamplona, Spain – Dolph, Brad Carlson and Javier Martin-Romero ran with the bulls in Pamplona on three consecutive days, July 8-10, 2004. (See story entitled “The Pamplona Bull Run” by Dolph under Non-Scientific Writings.)

     19.         Mt. Elbrus – located in the western Caucasus mountain range, in Kabardino-Balkaria and Karachay-Cherkessia, Russia, 18,500 feet, and Sandy and Dolph attempted the climb in July, 2006. Sandy made it almost to the summit and Dolph, who had his second stent inserted one month before the climb, decided to back off about the 15,000 ft level. Little known fact outside Russia about Mt. Elbrus is that it is likely the number one man-eater of the seven highest summits on the seven continents.

     20.         Bungee Jumping in New Zealand – Dolph bungee jumped from the Kawarau Bridge on August 28, 2007 and from The Ledge, Queenstown, NZ, on August 31, 2007, followed by the pendulum swing at The Ledge.



     1.             Third climb of Kilimanjaro – Dolph and his son-in-law, Jeff Clubb, climbed along the Rongai (Naro Moru) Route and spent their 4th night in the Crater on top of the mountain (~18,000 feet) before attempting the summit. They reached the summit (19,341 feet, 5895 m) on 13 October, 2007 at 11:07 AM. Dolph made this climb after receiving his 3rd and 4th stents. (See Photo1, Photo2)

     2.             World’s longest bungee jump – Bloukrans, South Africa, February 21, 2008, Dolph and Brad Carlson did the jump, 712 feet.

     3.             Track and Field – Senior Olympics

     a.        El Paso, TX – April 19, 2008, Dolph won the gold in the 50 meters, bronze in the 100 and 200 meters and the long jump.

    b.        Washington, DC – May 7, 2008, Dolph won the gold in the 50, 100 and 200 meters and long jump, and qualified for National Senior Olympics in 100 and 200 meters and long jump. The 50 meter sprint is not sanctioned by the National Senior Olympic Committee.

     4.             Skydiving (Accelerated Free Fall) – Dolph jumped at DELMARVA Skydive in Laurel, DE, October 4, 2008, from a height of 13,000 feet and feel to ~5000 feet before opening his chute. This jump was done with Charlie Mueller and was planned with Brad Carlson and Min-Hyuk (Karma) Yoo who jumped one day later at another site.

    5.             Naica Crystal Cave – Naica, Mexico, Dolph and Brad Carlson entered the cave with an internal temperature well over 100o F and a cave that has the largest known gypsum crystals in the world on November 22, 2008.

     6.             Skydiving (Accelerated Free Fall) – Dolph jumped at DELMARVA Skydive in Laurel, DE, September 20, 2009, from a height of 13,000 feet and feel to ~5000 feet before opening the chute. This jump was done with Dolph’s nephew, Brendan Barthes-Wilson.

     7.             Helicopter ride over and down into the Grand Canyon with a visit to the famous Grand Canyon Skywalk on 6/20/10. This trip that was taken by Dolph and Brad Carlson included a round trip ride on the historic, narrow-gauge train from Durango to Silverton that has been in operation since 1882 on 6/19/10 and a roller coaster ride in Las Vegas at “The Roller Coaster, New York, New York” on 6/21/10.

    8.              Rappelling  – Dolph, his daughter Sandy, and Brad Carlson rappelled a 345 ft building in Des Moines, Iowa to raise funds for the Special Olympics, September 18, 2012. Dolph was still in recovery from paralysis which had occurred on May 25, 2012 (see story “An unexpected journey back from paralysis” on this website under the tab Unpublished and See Photos)


        1. World’s longest bungee jump. Dolph did the world’s longest bungee jump from the top of the Macau Tower, in Macau, China, on his 80th birthday, October 3, 2017.  (See Video on David Muir program and Article in Frederick NCI Newsletter).

        2. Tibet. Dolph had always wanted to visit Tibet and see Mount Everest and learn more about the Buddhist religion. After doing the world’s longest bungee jump in Macau, he and Gregg Hollomon, a life long friend, went to Tibet, saw Everest, visited a number of Buddhist temples and spoke with a Buddhist Monk for 45 minutes (10/10/2017). 

        3. Dolph, his Tanzanian sons, Frank Mella and Deogratias Mtui, went on a humanitarian trip to Uganda to visit malnourished and severely starving families in North Eastern Uganda. Dolph wrote a story about this life altering experience entitled From Mount Kilimanjaro to Uganda: My Two Tanzanian “Sons”. (See article

        4. Track and Field – Senior Games

               a. Dolph entered the Senior Games in Washington, DC, May 1, 2018, and Henrico, Virginia, May 19, 2018. He won 3 gold medals and 5 silver medals in various events as detailed under the tab Sports. He ran the 50 meters and did the long jump in Henrico with 95% blockage in his left main artery (see photo). This artery supplies most of the blood to the heart and is called the “widow maker”. Dolph learned of the blockage by having an angiogram on June 4 and had  double bypass surgery on June 8, 2018 to correct the blockage. 

        5. Running with the bulls in Pamplona, Spain, July 9-12, 2018. Dolph and his four grandchildren, Amber and Logan Hatfield, and Tristan and Skyelar Clubb, his daughter and son in law, Sandy and Jeff Clubb, and his wife, Mary, went to Pamplona, Spain on July 9-12, to run in the San Fermin with the bulls. Dolph tried on three consecutive days to run and the Policia threw him off the street of the run as they said he was too old. Sandy, Tristan and Skyelar ran on July 11. On July 12, Amber and Logan darkened Dolph’s beard with mascara, Sandy gave him an official red, running jacket and an official white shirt and red scarf, while Logan gave him official white, running pants to make him appear to be a younger, authentic runner (Photo1, Photo2). These efforts also did not result in him being able to run, but his family gave him and A+ for effort.

        6. Skydiving in Shenandoah, August 11, 2018. Dolph and his wife, Mary, went to the Skydiving Center at Skydive Shenandoah and Dolph did his first tandem skydive. The jump was from 10,000 feet (see Album).  

        7. Zip lining and paragliding in Puerto Rico, August 20-24, 2018. Dolph and his daughter, Sandy, visited Puerto Rico and did zip lining on the Beast and the Monster ziplines on August 23 . They followed these events by doing paragliding on August 24.  (See Photos and Videos from trip)

        8. Skydiving in Delmarva, September 8, 2018. Dolph and Mary went to Skydive Delmarva in Delmarva, Delaware and Dolph jumped in tandem from 18,000 ft. He said this was among the most exciting and  awesome skydives he ever experienced due to the fact it was from the highest distance he had ever jumped. He and his instructor were in freefall for 75 seconds before their chute was opened by the instructor (see video and photos).