We asked some of our Summit For Someone climbers to tell us why they chose to devote part of 2010 to raising money and training for a mountain climb to benefit Big City Mountaineers. We’ll be publishing their answers on our blog over a span of a few weeks. Want to share why you’re climbing? E-mail us at email@example.com.
Mount Hood 2010
For the past three years, I have mentored at-risk teen girls from Oakland and San Leandro, California, as a Team Leader for Big City Mountaineers. Each trip, I meet a group of apprehensive young women in the city context they have know their whole lives, and together, we travel to Yosemite, Kings Canyon, or the Ansel Adams Wilderness Area. I teach them the basics of outdoor travel and safety while they worry about sleeping in a tent for the first time – in bear country. We pack our backpacks, leaving all but the essentials behind, and we walk 20 to 30 miles into the wilderness.
BCM trips offer teens a chance to explore a totally new environment, to soak up the beauty of natural spaces with few human influences. But more, they offer troubled teenagers a chance to see themselves in a new light. Hiking at 9,000 ft. elevation with a 45-lb pack on your back is a challenge for anybody! These girls learn that they can survive for a week without mirrors or makeup – freed from the drama of high school life – and have a chance to discover their inner beauty and strength. For some, it is their first time away from home. For some, it is their first opportunity to question the world they take for granted. In 2008, 15-year-old Julie amazed me while we were cooking dinner in the backcountry when she observed, “It’s so much easier to be happy when life is simple like this.”
This year, I decided to put myself in my girls’ shoes. Each and every trip, I ask a group of young women to face daunting new challenges, to push themselves beyond what they feel emotionally and physically capable of, and to climb, step by step, to new heights. In June, I will push myself beyond my own boundaries of comfort and experience in honor of all the amazing young women who have ventured into the wilderness with me.