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The Survivor Summit – Mount Hood

June 24, 2014

photoThe Mount Hood Survivor Summit brought together climbers, guides, family members and loved ones to celebrate anniversaries, reflect on milestones and hope for a future without cancer. Survivors at all different stages in their journeys are the heart of this climb. Their presence makes the rest of us stronger. Special thanks to Lynn, Devin, Alyssa and Kari for sharing your personal stories.

Mt Hood

Mt. Hood as seen from Snow Skills School, June 14, 2014.

Climbers traveled from the great Pacific Northwest, North Carolina, Kentucky, Washington, DC, New York, Utah, California and many towns in-between. Watching bonds form over a common supportive goal is a unique component of Climb to Fight Breast Cancer teams. Even seventeen summers later, it’s remarkable to experience.

The weather forecast driving into Oregon on Friday, June 13 was a little dicey. There was a chance that climbers would face precipitation or wind. As the weekend progressed, and climbers grew more confident in their gear, surroundings and skills, the skies brought sun and excellent crampon conditions.

On summit day, climbers awoke to the aroma of eggs and waffles at midnight and boarded snowcats in full mountaineering gear at 1 am and 1:45 am. Their ride took them to 8,500 ft where they began climbing. They kicked steps up Mt. Hood’s steep flanks for hours, before arriving at the Hogsback (10,500 ft) just after 5 am. From here they roped up with their professional mountain guides to ascend the last 700 ft to Mt. Hood’s summit – the tallest peak in Oregon (11,237 ft).

The group included a team of girlfriends (Team GEM = Girl Empowerment Meeting) who select an outdoors adventure annually. This year they chose Mt. Hood to mark Kari’s journey through breast cancer. She was diagnosed in 2012. They called it their “Goodbye” cancer and “Hello” Mt. Hood. This motto was fitting for everyone.

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Team Namaste on the summit. Photo courtesy of Michael, Hunter & Andrew Heathfield.

Climber Michael Heathfield was on our 2009 Mt. Hood Climb to Fight Breast Cancer summit team. He’s gone on to also climb Rainier, Shasta and Denali with us. This year, he was back with his 16-year-old son, Hunter, and nephew, Andrew. Seeing Michael share his love of the mountains with his son, nephew and wife Lora (from base camp at Timberline Lodge) was a wonderful cap to an already special weekend. Especially since summit day was on Father’s Day.

Gratitude also to Sal, Tiffany, Mohammed, Theresa, Greg, John, Adam, Scott, Andrea and Lauren for your love of mountains, dedication to raising funds for life-saving breast cancer research and your adventurous spirits.

Congratulations, climbers.

Editor’s note: You can read more about all these climbers on the Climb to Fight Breast Cancer website. 

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