Abbreviated Climb Against Odds raises $250,000

Skye Kinkade
Local Climb Against the Odds participants Karen Pautz and Dr. Shanhong Lu were all smiles after reaching Bunny Flat on June 19, 2010. The women were unable to summit Mt. Shasta due to treacherous conditions, however, “We are able to celebrate where we were and what we did accomplish,” Pautz said.

Raising funds for and awareness of breast cancer,  24 climbers from around the United States descended Mt. Shasta Thursday afternoon amid a cacophony of enthusiastic cheering from supportive family and friends.

Though the team wasn’t able to summit the mountain  during the 11th annual Climb Against the Odds due to  harsh conditions and 40 mile per hour winds, the climbers did make it to Hidden Valley base camp at 9,400 feet.

“It was an amazing experience,” said Siskiyou County climber Karen Pautz after reaching Bunny Flat and hugging her husband and 11 year old daughter. “The camaraderie from day one has truly touched my heart.”

As for the disappointment of not being able to make it to Mt. Shasta’s peak at 14,169 feet, Pautz called it “an opportunity to test human reaction.”

“We are able to celebrate where we were and what we did accomplish,” she said.

Descending alongside Pautz was Dr. Shanhong Lu, who is also a Siskiyou County resident. A third member of the local team, Nancy Driscoll, trained and fundraised for the Climb Against the Odds but was unable to make the climb.

Altogether, the 24 climbers raised a total of $250,000 for the Breast Cancer Fund, which works to identify and eliminate the environmental causes of the disease.

Pautz had set a personal fundraising goal of $14,169, one dollar for every foot she would climb. On Thursday afternoon, she said she met and exceeded that goal.

“I’m at almost $17,000,” she said proudly.

As the officially recognized local climber, that entire sum will stay in Siskiyou County to aid local residents whose lives have been touched by breast cancer through Breast Cancer Services of Siskiyou County, Pautz said.

Mostly first time climbers, the team set out on their adventure on Tuesday, June 15, from the Bunny Flat trailhead. They reached base camp by that evening.

Due to adverse conditions, mountain guides determined it would be unwise for the group to make a summit attempt on Wednesday morning.

Late season snowfall meant the team had to use their mountaineering skills and equipment much earlier in the climb, said Carly Chomer, spokesperson for the Breast Cancer Fund.

“Snow and ice made their ascent to and descent from base camp more technical than an average June climb,” Chomer said.

The teams set out just days after a dangerous weekend on Mt. Shasta, when nine people had to be rescued with helicopters and snowmobiles due to falling ice, slippery slopes and high winds.

“Climb Against the Odds participants have gone to great heights – literally and figuratively – to honor their own and their loved ones’ experiences with breast cancer, and to promote prevention,” said Connie George, climb manager for the Breast Cancer Fund. “We are truly honored to have such extraordinary and passionate women and men committed to taking one step at a time to stop this disease before it starts.”

Last week’s climb followed in the tradition of the Breast Cancer Fund’s past expeditions on Mt. Aconcagua, Argentina in 1995, Mt. McKinley, Alaska in 1998, Mt Fuji in Japan in 2000, Mt. Rainier, Wash. in 2005 and Mt. Shasta in 2003, 2004, 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2009.

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The first group of Climb Against the Odds participants, including local climbers Dr. Shanhong Lu and Karen Pautz, descended Mt. Shasta on June 17, 2010. They were greeted by a large group of enthusiastic family and friends at Bunny Flat.