The first climb of the season
Blog post by Mt. Shasta climber Karen Kilian
On May 21, 2010, 17 people started their ascent of Mt. Shasta (elevation 14,179 feet) in Northern California. On May 23rd, 17 people made their descent from Mt. Shasta. What happened in between those dates?? Well, a lot of fun, a lot of hard work, a lot of sunshine, a lot of snow, a lot of wind and the raising of a lot of money for breast cancer research. Over $100K to be exact.
Shasta Mountain Guides led the teams from Bunny Flats (6,860 feet) to Horse Camp (7,900 feet), then to Helen Lake (but there really isn’t a lake there) at 10,443 feet. The climb to Helen Lake was in bluebird sunny skies with incredible scenery all around us. Slowly we ascended, using the “rest step” to maximize our efficiency as we gained in altitude.
We all participated in “snow school” learning new skills for some folks, great review for others. We learned how to walk on a rope team, how to walk on steep snow, and how to do an ice axe arrest. We built snow platforms for our tents, took lots of photos, and got ready for summit night!
The plan to leave around 2 or 3 am was thwarted by unseasonably cold weather. As a guide said: “We had Denali weather without Denali gear.” Rather than risk frostbite and/or hypothermia (wind chill of minus 26F!), a summit attempt was abandoned. Were we disappointed? Sure, we had worked so hard for this day; it’s always a disappointment not to go for it when you feel so strong. But, it was the right decision.
No one plans not to summit when they set out to climb a mountain. Just like no one handed the diagnosis of cancer plans not to survive when they start chemotherapy. Seventeen people trained hard and fund-raised over $100,000 on the Climb to Fight Breast Cancer to ensure that people will survive. What will you do next summer?