Besides the usual re-lacing of boots, duct-taping of heels and fixing of backpack straps, the Climb Against the Odds 2009 team departed seamlessly from the Bunny Flat trailhead at about 10:30 this morning.
They've already passed through Horse Camp, the low camp on the mountain, to fill their water bottles. They'll hike for a few hours today, skirting around the mountain's rocky southwest flank. What today's hike lacks in steepness it makes up for in pack weight: Climbers must pack in all their gear today, but only take a small portion of that gear up to the summit tomorrow.
It's a beautiful day here in Mt. Shasta. Go climbers!
Update: Click on the video's play button to get a peek at the Bay Area team -- Wendy, Abby, Marcella, Amy and Kathi -- posing for the paparazzi and making sure their guide has the proper safety equipment.
The climb team heads to the trailhead at Bunny Flat this morning, and from there will depart for base camp at Hidden Valley. Today's hike of a few hours will be followed by a long summit attempt tomorrow.
They're in good form, well prepared and ready to hit the trail! There's some nervous butterflies, of course, but this is a great team and they're up to the challenge of the journey ahead. You can click on the photo to get a better look at the team in full mountain gear.
This is what Shasta looked like yesterday: clear skies and lots of snow. Great for climbing!
Over several weeks, Climb Against the Odds participant Jennifer Wilson has shared her thoughts and feelings on training and preparing for her climb. Now at Mt. Shasta, Jennifer contributes to the Breast Cancer Fund blog her perspective with just one day to go until climbers leave for base camp. In the early morning hours on Wednesday, June 24, the team of 28 women and men from across the country will depart their Hidden Valley camp in hopes of summiting the 14,162-foot mountain.
I’m at Mt. Shasta! And a number of us survived snow (mountaineering) school today on it! The last 24 hours have been a whirl of emotions. After months of fundraising and physical preparation, we are finally here. As we drove north through California yesterday, at the end of the straight freeway, a mirage of a mountain appeared before our eyes. We were still 100 miles away, but there was no doubt that this was our mountain! Mt. Shasta is a spectacular mountain, in a beautiful area dominated by it. The emotions jumped easily from the excitement of finally being here to the nervousness from the realization of just how steep and big it looks in real life!
Preparing for snow school today, my nerves set in. I knew it was more anxiety and excitement from the unknowns: the mountain, fellow climbers, and the new equipment. I reminded myself of where I was last year at this time – in the middle of chemo – and that this climb is about what we can do for others. It was wonderful, then, to meet the other fellow climbers also taking snow school. This is such an amazing group of people, each with a unique story that culminates with our meeting here.
As we hiked back down to the trail head after successfully making it to the snow and learning all kinds of new skills with our ice axes, I was able to relax, knowing that whatever is going to happen on this mountain this week will be something so special that all of our lives will be richer for it.
Welcome climbers, and welcome friends and family to Mt. Shasta!
Last night the Climb Against the Odds 2009 team met here in Mt. Shasta, many of them for the first time. The first night of Climb Against the Odds is a little like the first day of summer camp: new bunkmates, lots of anticipation, nervousness (especially when the ranger showed the route they'd be taking up the west face of the mountain; it looked nearly vertical on-screen), and everyone trying to learn everyone else's name -- quickly.
The welcome ceremony brought all the climbers, supporters and staff to the heart of why we're all here, as individuals and as a team. Some climbers are cancer survivors, some have lost people they love to the disease, some are compelled to give thanks for their good health by giving back. All of us want there to be less cancer for our kids and our grandkids.
So with a few names and homestates of new teammates under their belts, this morning climbers will meet their mountaineering guides and go through their backpacks to make sure they have all the right gear.
The weather and mountain conditions are fabulous: not too hot, clear skies and lots of snow on the mountain. Tomorrow morning climbers depart the Bunny Flat trailhead for the Hidden Valley base camp at 9,400 feet. They'll arise many hours before dawn on Wednesday to attempt the 14,162-foot summit, and we'll be reporting on their progress right here.
Was the wait worth it? Absolutely. The program requires cosmetics manufacturers to report to the state any ingredient that causes cancer or birth defects for products sold in California. Consumers will be able to access this data and decide for themselves if they want to wash their hair with carcinogens or soften their elbows with reproductive toxicants (and really, who would?).
There's more good news here: Did you know that "fragrance" on a label can actually contain dozens -- if not hundreds -- of ingredients? Some are harmful, some are not, but they don't have to be listed on the product so you can't know. But the database will know, because the law specifies that toxic components of "fragrance" must be flagged, too. Does the vanilla scent in your hand lotion include a carcinogen? Now you'll know.
Manufacturers have until October 15, 2009 to report toxic ingredients to the state. Consumers can look forward to viewing the data a few months from now (date TBA).
Getting a law passed is great, but seeing it through to fruition is the
real prize. We've been stakeholders during the implementation process,
and we'll be watching as the data flows in. In the meantime, you can help us continue to make sure all the laws we've supported fulfill their public health potential by making a donation.
On Sunday, Climb Against the Odds participant Gary Howell of Tucson, Ariz., was featured on the local Sport Force on KMSB-TV. In six minutes, he eloquently talked about his year of training, the upcoming climb and the work of the Breast Cancer Fund, and even had an opportunity to thank our own climb coordinator Connie George.
Thank you to Gary and our other climbers across the country who have been doing incredible interviews to raise awareness around breast cancer prevention. For articles and news clips on Climb Against the Odds, check out our News section. We'll be continuing to add clips over the next few weeks.
Climber and breast cancer survivor Jennifer Wilson, of Delray Beach, Fla., shares her thoughts on Climb Against the Odds, with a little over a week remaining until the climbers begin their 14,162-foot trek.This year's team of 29 women and men from across the country will gather in Mt. Shasta, Calif., on Sunday, June 21, to begin preprations for the June 24 expedition. Look to our blog throughout the week of the climb for the moment-to-moment details.
It's hard to believe that our climb is less than two weeks away! I'm so excited to meet all the other team members and continue our adventure.
I have been overwhelmed by the support and generosity of so many people towards my - and other team members' - fundraising, even in these economic times. Sadly, I have such a powerful message. If a very healthy and fit 44-year-old, without relevant family history, can get breast cancer, almost anyone can, so we really need to look harder at the preventable causes.
So, how DOES a Floridian train to climb a 14,162-foot mountain? Part of the answer is, she goes to other states! I was fortunate to do some hiking in Utah with good friends, and last weekend met some of the other wonderful people on the east coast team of the climb to hike Mount Washington in New Hampshire. The rest of the training was in deep sand on the beach with a backpack filled with kitty litter and two Antarctica parkas on my back, hot trails in Florida parks, stairs in condo buildings, and who can forget the old standby, the gym.
Coming so soon after treatment, the training has been hard, and there have been plenty of times when I have reached points where I've had to push myself physically and mentally beyond where I feel the "new me" is capable. I try to think that if I can conquer cancer, I can conquer the training and the mountain. Climbing with the team in N.H. helped me realize how important the mental challenge is, and I have spent the last week planning my thoughts of gratitude for the hard moments of the climb. Even before meeting many members of the team, I feel the strength that being a part of this group experience will give us all, while we help give for the future.
You've probably heard it said that when it comes to toxic chemicals, the dose makes the poison. A teeny bit of a bad thing can't hurt too much, right? Wrong.
The more we learn about some toxic chemicals, the more we know it’s time to toss out this old “wisdom.” Take the hormone-mimicking chemical bisphenol A, or BPA. Yesterday, the Endocrine Society released its first-ever scientific statement on BPA, which reiterates what dozens of studies have shown: BPA can interfere with our hormone system even at exquisitely low doses and that this is especially true for children exposed during critical development windows (including before birth). But these bold scientists went even further. They said that while they still have questions about BPA, there’s clearly enough evidence of concern to take a "precautionary approach" by reducing exposures; and that (hold onto your seat, folks) the Endocrine Society should “actively engage in lobbying for regulation seeking to decrease human exposure” to BPA. (Check out the USA Today article for more details.)
This is big! The “world's oldest, largest and most active organization devoted to research on hormones and the clinical practice of endocrinology”—not quite a rowdy bunch of activists—is calling for immediate action against BPA. The movement, which the Breast Cancer Fund has been leading and helping to build, is growing! Join us!
The Climb Against the Odds 2009 team has just two weeks – exactly – until they rise in the early morning hours on June 24 to climb the 14,162-ft. Mt. Shasta. As Breast Cancer Fund founder Andrea Ravinett Martin poignantly said about the expedition, “our success lies in the journey, not just the summit.” For these individuals, that journey began six months ago when they first applied to participate in Climb Against the Odds. With just days to go, many are reflecting back on the physical and emotional experiences leading them to this point, and why making this climb is so meaningful.
Here are some thoughts from our climbers:
Julie Quillin, 37, of Redding, Calif.
Four months of intense weekly training has included one day of leg strengthening, two mountain bike rides, two cardio workouts, one short hike with a pack weighing more than 35 pounds, one long hike with a 25-pound pack and daily stretching. She still has trouble imagining the whole ascension happening in one day.
Months of training have preceded this one-day journey to remember her friend and honor those who have battled breast cancer. Two of Julie’s family members were diagnosed with cancer in the past two months; proof, Julie says, that we are never far removed from the disease.
Julie, always modest about her accomplishments and passionate about the Breast Cancer Fund’s mission to eliminate preventable causes of breast cancer, says she has most enjoyed meeting people and hearing their stories. “My story is no different than the story of those who are supporting me. Everyone who has donated an auction item or written a check can relate to me and my reasons for making this climb.” she says. “Now all I can do is show up and walk.”
Abby Orellana, 28, of Oakland, Calif., on a training hike to Castle Crags, just south of Mt. Shasta
It had been raining and snowing the whole entire weekend which made the climb basically up wet rock. It was that day, I came to realize my smallishnotsosmall fear of heights. In a little over a month I will be climbing a mountain that is over 14 thousand feet high. A smallishnotsosmall heights issue is something I should have figured out prior to this, no?
But it's one of those things. You learn to cope, you overcome, you succeed. The view at the top of Castle Crags, so worth it. The view from the top of Shasta, I am sure will evoke the same emotion.
And all in all, there is something to be said about fear of nature, it reminds me how human I am and how awesome things are, even when you can't control them.
And you know what, it was one of those experiences that made me realize how much the team is going to be important in this whole journey. I have determination, Wendy [Aten] has an amazing light that shines when she's out in the great wide open, Laura [Lifland] has the experience of other Shasta Summits, and Gil [Arriaga] has a hand that he's willing to hand me, when I miss a step.
Jessica Barton, 27, of Richmond, Va., on a training hike on Mt. Rogers in Southwest Virginia
I thought Mount Rogers would be a good training hike not only physically but mentally because you don't hike it for a summit view, there is none. As with Mount Rogers, I will need to not fixate on the summit of Shasta, but rather the experience all together and moments of the journey captured along the way.
As our climbers complete the final leg of their journey, the Breast Cancer Fund will be right here - keeping you updated on developments throughout the week of June 21. We especially hope you will join us on Wednesday, June 24, as we post regular updates on their ascent and descent of the mountain! Please stay tuned!