Julie was first introduced to the Climb to Fight Breast Cancer in 2007 when she climbed Mt Adams. In 2008 she summited Rainier as well as the Volcanoes of Mexico. This past year, Julie climbed Mt Baker and Kilimanjaro while raising critical funds for breast cancer research at the Hutchinson Center.
In celebration of my 50th birthday in 2008, I joined two climbs: Mt Rainier in July and the Volcanoes of Mexico in November. It is very rewarding to me to combine a physical challenge with a challenge of fundraising for such a worthy cause; it's a way of striving for two goals at once, knowing that the money raised will fund crucial breast cancer research. Our 16-year-old daughter Maggie chose to join me on the Rainier climb. This was a great way for a mother and daughter to spend time together, as well as a way to teach Maggie the value of "giving back."
The climb up to Camp Muir at 10,000 feet was a good warm-up, and the guides watched us carefully, assessing our fitness levels. We stopped almost every hour to munch on snacks, gulp down some water, and get to know each other. We slept in a hut at Muir the first night and awoke around 7 a.m. to brilliant, sunny skies and a gorgeous view. After a bit of instruction on self-arrest, rest stepping, pressure breathing, and rope-team travel, we roped up and began our ascent through Cathedral Gap to the Ingraham Flats.
A scattering of two-and three-man tents awaited us, flapping in a rather stiff breeze. Despite the fierce wind, the freezing level was high, so the guides wanted us to get an early start to the summit. When we emerged from our tents at 10:45 p.m., the stars were out, and we could see lights from various towns far below. We roped up around midnight and slowly lumbered up the snow-covered Disappointment Cleaver. The wind was relentless and whipped pellets of ice and snow at us. After Maggie got cold hands and was knocked off her feet twice by the wind, she opted to return to the Flats.
The rest of us continued on, and I often thought about how easy this climb really was in comparison to a battle against breast cancer. At 5 a.m., just as the sun was rising, we crested the huge crater. Because we were the first to reach the summit that morning, we were able to relish in our success before other rope teams began arriving. It was quite exhilarating to reach the top, but it was even more exciting to know that Maggie and I raised over $22,000 for breast cancer research at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. We were very inspired by the opportunity to honor and support those battling breast cancer.
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In 2007 Mike and his colleagues from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Search and Rescue team climbed Mt Rainier and raised more than $30,000. He joined the Climb to Fight Breast Cancer again in 2008 to summit Mt Hood.
My donors, friends and supporters shared with me very personal stories of people close to them who are or have been battling cancer. Those names were put on my personal prayer flags, which indeed made it to the summit of Mt. Rainier during perfect weather and conditions!
Four of us from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Search and Rescue were able to raise more than $30,000 for advancements in breast cancer research. Next time we climb, we hope our prayer flags will have fewer names on them, as a result of earlier detection and improvements in treatment! While performing 500 search-and-rescue missions is instantly gratifying, knowing that I am contributing to the hopeful eradication of breast cancer brings a new perspective to my outdoor experiences. Our group had climbers from opposite sides of the country and various careers (we had a public defender among three reserve deputies), ALL united in a common goal of summiting for the benefit of research. Carrying prayer flags with names of dozens of cancer survivors and warriors impressed upon me the importance of supporting and advancing the work at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center.
My goal is to have representation from the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department each year on AT LEAST one of the Climb to Fight Breast Cancer climbs!
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Lynn is a longtime supporter of the Climb to Fight Breast Cancer. She climbed Mt Adams and Mt Baker in 2005, Mt Elbrus in 2006, Mt Baker and Mt Rainier in 2007, Mt Rainier in 2008 and the Volcanoes of Mexico in 2009 and in 2010 and 2011 both Mt Hood and Mt Shasta.
In July 2006, I joined a group of 12 climbers and four guides to climb Mt Elbrus in the Baksan Valley of Russia, deep in the Caucasus Mountains – the highest peak in Europe (18,510 feet) and one of the Seven Summits.
We began acclimatizing by hiking to about 11,000 feet on the first two days and coming back down to sleep. On day three, we moved up to the 'barrels,’ huge old gas tanks converted to cozy sleeping facilities, at 12,000 feet and stayed there for two nights, practicing rope team travel on the glacier. On day four, we hiked up to Pastukov rocks (15,400 feet) and back down. We then moved our camp up to the Pruitt hut area and enjoyed an afternoon of beautiful weather before our summit attempt.
Day six, we got up at 2:30 a.m. and left for the summit at about 3 a.m. A storm had blown in quickly and the weather was terrible – cold, snowy, very windy, with very little visibility. After about four hours of climbing in worsening weather, we turned around above 16,000 feet. The terrible weather continued throughout the seventh day, so we stayed put at the hut. Day eight would be our last chance to summit as we had used up all of our time. When we went to bed that night, no one felt that we would make the summit because the bad weather continued.
On day eight, we got up at 12:30 a.m. and were off by 2 a.m. It was still windy and cold, but it was clear and I could see a crescent moon. It wasn't snowing, but the wind was blowing the new snow across the ground. To conserve energy, I concentrated on foot placement and efficient breathing. After about seven-and-a-half hours, the team graciously let me summit first, either because I was the oldest or the only cancer survivor in the group. Being on the summit was a special and emotional time. We only spent about 20 minutes on top before starting the long descent.
Much later at the hotel in the valley floor, we gathered for a wonderful dinner and toasted with champagne, followed by a shot of vodka (puts hair on your chest!). I had climbed well, had no altitude or other problems on the mountain, and I had come back safely. It doesn't get any better than that. I was proud of my teammates and myself. We worked well together, had fun and shared success. I raised more than $17,000 for breast cancer research at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, which felt really good.
In 2008, I will attempt to climb Iztaccihuatl (nicknamed Ixta) at 17,126 feet and Orizaba at 18,405 feet, the third and seventh highest mountains in North America, and will attempt to raise $30,000 for breast cancer research.
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Colin has climbed nearly every peak offered by the Climb to Fight Breast Cancer. He started in 2004 with Mt Hood, summited Mt Adams in 2005, Rainier in 2006 and Baker in 2007. He tackled both Mts Hood and Baker in 2008 and Mt Hood in 2009.
On July 4th at 9:30 a.m., our Climb to Fight Breast Cancer team stood atop Mt Rainier. It was quite the trip of a lifetime and a great adventure. I raised over $5,000 and our team total exceeded $53,000. Not only did I get to help a very worthy cause, but I also got to scale a mountain I had wanted to climb since I was a kid.
Our team was comprised of nine people from all over the US and three guides from Alpine Ascents International (AAI). We left Seattle for the White River campground and trailhead at 4,300 feet on the east side of the mountain. We climbed for over eight hours on our way up to the Inter Glacier at 8,500 feet and made our first camp there. The views from camp were breathtaking, and it was a great day for everyone to get to know each other.
The 2nd day we were up early again and made a short move past Camp Schurman and set up camp at Emmons Flats (about 9,500 feet). We had our camp set up by noon, ate dinner at 2 p.m. and were all sleeping, or trying to sleep, until our 10 p.m. wake-up call. Around 3 a.m. at 12,500 feet, we had to wait out lightning and a snowstorm before continuing. The few moments that I got tired triggered the thought of all the names on the banner I was carrying. I recalled names of women who face a daily journey that is painful, all consuming and daunting. It was then I realized I wasn't really as tired as I thought and that my fatigue was nothing compared to what others are going through.
We were in the clouds most of the climb, but as we neared the summit it started to clear and we had a stellar 360-degree view our entire time on top. Not long after we left the summit, the clouds moved back in and closed off the top of the mountain from our view. We literally had a window of opportunity and got to enjoy it – a great way to spend the 4th of July! On our descent, we got to do some "glissading," sliding on your "bum." There was a great glissade path and we got to descend about 1,500 feet in about five minutes! Breast cancer has had an effect on many people close to you and me, and even perhaps to you personally, so please join me in continuing to support breast cancer research at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center.
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Bonnie is a repeat climber who ascended Mt Kilimanjaro in 2003, Mt Baker in 2004, Mt Elbrus in 2005 and the Volcanoes of Mexico in 2008 with the Climb to Fight Breast Cancer.
Why do we climb mountains? George Mallory replied, “Because they are there.” But those of us who climb mountains with the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center’s Climb to Fight Breast Cancer are climbing for another reason. We are climbing to raise awareness and raise funds for scientific research, hoping to make a difference for a very select group of people.
We are also climbing for very personal reasons: our mothers, sisters, daughters, wives and friends. I became involved with the Climb to Fight Breast Cancer because two very dear friends, Brendlyon and Char, were both diagnosed with this disease in 2002 and 2003, respectively. Since that time, I have participated in four climbs and have served as a committee member, hoping that my small contribution will enable women like Brendlyon and Char to benefit from research studies. This is what makes this event so remarkable! Every year scores of climbers, hundreds of donors, and a few dedicated committee volunteers are making a significant impact on breast cancer research.
Climbing any mountain is an exhilarating and moving experience. Combined with the intense preparation of training and fundraising for a cause you believe in, it is truly life changing. The majestic mountains of the Northwest are breathtaking (literally, as you pressure breathe above 10,000 feet!) An added bonus is the opportunity to experience different cultures in other parts of the world. Climbing Mt Kilimanjaro (Africa) and Mt Elbrus (Russia) were incredible journeys; new friends were made and they continue to support the goals of the Hutchinson Center.
Being involved with the Climb to Fight Breast Cancer has been incredibly rewarding and tons of fun. That’s why we climb mountains.
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