Guest Post by 2019 Climb Against the Odds climber, Katie Meyer
I’m a glamper, not a camper, so when I signed up for this adventure, naturally I was a bit tense. Three days on Mt. Shasta, sleeping on the snow and having to carry everything that belonged to me, (and I mean everything) only scratches the surface of this epic trip I embarked on.
You’d think a born and bred Colorado girl raised in the San Juan’s would have at least attempted a 14’er summit. But, you’d be wrong. Summiting a mountain, especially one in my backyard, has never been on my bucket list. I like hiking, running water and ‘glamping’ in my queen-sized bed, but getting to the top of a peak was not on my radar. For two years, I watched other Osprey sponsored climbers train and fundraise for this event, and their excitement and nerves inspired me to take on this challenge.
When I signed up, I agreed to not only train for this climb but to also raise $6,000 in support of Breast Cancer Prevention Partners’ research. I’m proud to say, with the help of my friends, family, and community, I surpassed my goal and raised over $7,000! Together, all of the climbers collectively raised over $340,000 for BCPP – way to go ladies!!
My training included early morning spin classes, LOTS of squats, snowshoeing, a backpacking trip, and many day hikes with my family and friends.
When I landed in Redding, CA, I caught my first glimpse of this majestic mountain. Let me tell ya, she was bigger than ANY mountains we have in Colorado. The beauty and fierceness this peak emanated when I first saw her still leaves me in awe. My first evening in the town of Mt. Shasta was full of laughs and tears as I met the other climbers, heard their inspiring stories, and immediately bonded with them. Many of these powerful women were breast cancer survivors, here to make a difference.
After eight hours by myself in a king-size bed (which as a mother and wife is hard to come by), the day I’d been preparing for for six months had finally arrived. It was time to climb Mount Shasta!
With rental gear on and a backpack full of necessities including my son’s Godzilla toy, we hit the trail. We got to our first camp which was around 8,000 feet and with a few hours of daylight left, our guides taught us some life-saving skills; traversing, self-arrest, and glissading, all things of dire importance while you’re on Mt Shasta. At this point, I’d like to say my nerves had calmed some, but I knew that my adventure was only just beginning. In bed after our first day on Mt Shasta, I thought of my son and my family back home, of my warm bed, and of the security one can only feel while you’re in your comfort zone. My solace at that time were the ladies next to me – the women and their families that were pushed so far out of their comfort zone, not by choice, and still had the bravery and courage to not only fight within but help defeat the disease.
Before we left for our high camp the next morning, we had a powerful ceremony that represented why we were all there. We gathered together in a prayer circle with names of loved ones written on colored prayer flags of whom we were climbing for- mothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, everyone we loved that has fought so hard against the cards they were tragically dealt. It was a powerful and moving moment, one that unified us and made us even stronger as a team.
With prayer flags securely fastened to the packs, we set off for our high camp. As we climbed well above the California treeline, the view was nothing short of magical. Our 2 A.M. summit morning was quickly approaching and our guides wanted us ‘horizontal by 5 P.M.’ Pro tip: a neck buff makes a great eye mask. At 1:30 A.M., summit day had begun. We filled our bellies with hot coffee and oatmeal, fastened on crampons, helmet, harness, and shimmied our packs on and began our ascent. Within minutes we were in a slow, methodical rhythm. Step, pole, step, pole, step… An hour into our climb, it was still dark and cold. The lights of the other climbers ahead of us was like a stream of fireflies showing the way. About every hour we’d stop to take a needed break where we’d nosh on jerky and almond butter, (my chosen snack).
As we wordlessly and rhythmically carried on, the sun began to rise and the magnitude of what we were doing began to sink in. I was on this beautiful mountain I’d first laid eyes on just a few days prior, climbing for a cause that resonates deeply with everyone that’s been impacted by breast cancer.
While training for this climb, I learned of a term, ‘summit fever.’ I can comfortably say, I had the fever and more cowbell wasn’t going to help it. Not reaching the summit of Mt. Shasta just wasn’t an option for me. Inevitably, I was going to get to the bottom of that mountain, get on a plane and go home no matter the outcome, so why not push myself harder than I’ve ever pushed myself before and do just that? At 11,600 feet elevation, 2,500 feet shy of the peak of Mt. Shasta, I reached my personal summit. I realized at that point that I had pushed myself harder than I ever have before. I stepped out of my comfort zone and campaigned for a cause that every one of us can stand behind.
After camp was packed up, we started the long and hot descent of Mt Shasta. Each step came with mixed emotions. Disappointment that I didn’t summit but also an overwhelming feeling of achievement. Every year, Breast Cancer Prevention Partners uses this and many other fundraisers to support their research identifying and eliminating toxins in our everyday environment that are causing breast cancer in women that aren’t genetically predisposed to it.
Coming away from this adventure, I’ve learned my limits. I’ve learned how hard I can push myself, but mostly how easy it is to campaign for something you believe in. I was able to do things on this expedition that I didn’t even know I was capable of. There’s one photo that I have of our high camp. You can see snow, Mt. Shasta and a couple of tents. I love looking at this photo as it represents so much of what I never knew I could ever do. Even though I didn’t reach the summit of Mt. Shasta, I’m so proud of what the other climbers and I were able to accomplish.
Climb Against the Odds is looking for our next team of climbers!
Check out the full itinerary this year and our learn about past climbs through our interactive map journal! Email firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions.