Breast Cancer Fund Mt. Shasta Training: Snowdon Peak – Osprey Packs Experience
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Breast Cancer Fund Mt. Shasta Training: Snowdon Peak


Osprey’s own Sarah Harper Burke will summit Mt. Shasta for The Breast Cancer Fund “Climb Against The Odds” . Please donate to Sarah’s climb today! Whether it be $5 or $50, every dollar will help in the fight to prevent breast cancer. Donate here.

I live in an instant gratification type of society. Online shopping, instant messaging and smart phones bring me a sense of having things right now. So when we arrived at the trailhead to Snowdon Peak, all I could think about was, “that’s really far away”. I wanted to be at the summit right now. I wanted to be learning all the information I came to acquire right now.

The Breast Cancer Fund “Climb Against The Odds” Mt. Shasta climb is three weeks away. In preparation for the climb I needed to learn basic mountaineering techniques such as how to glissade and use an ice axe and crampons. Graciously, the Southwest Adventure Guides of Durango donated a day of training to the cause. It was 6:30 am and my guide Bill Grasse and I were geared up and ready to go.

At our first break an hour into the trip, the base of the peak looked as if it were another day’s worth of hiking to get to. We snowshoed the majority of the trail and I was getting used to walking with my new Leki poles. This was a great trial run of all the new gear provided by the climbs’ sponsors. Luna Bar, Julbo, Ibex, Isis, Outdoor Research and Leki are just a few of the companies, including Osprey, that have supported the climb by outfitting all of the climbers with essential gear.

As we continued to hike I started mentally listing all of my fears about the Mt. Shasta climb: Am I fit enough? Am I strong enough? Am I mentally prepared? Would I meet my fundraising goal? Was I insane for signing up for this? It was then that the peak came into clear view and I visualized myself at the top. This was doable! It might not be instant gratification but I could see the path that would take me to the top.

At the snow pack we switched out the snowshoes for crampons. I was officially a walking lethal weapon.

We attacked the first really steep section close to the boulders due to the snow conditions. Crampons and IMGP0378rocks are a clumsy combination, but at last, we made it to the bottom of the couloir. I’d seen this part in the guide books and became excited that we had made it so far. That bubble burst when I asked Bill how long it would take to get to the summit. Another three hours of climbing still lay ahead. However, the day had gotten ahead of us and it was time to turn back as the sun was blazing and the snow was getting a lot softer. I had no hard feelings about not going further. I may have prompted the idea.

We glissaded down the steep couloirs practicing self-arrests. It was great to relax into the day with something fun. The day, although not over, was a great accomplishment. It was time to admire the achievement of making it higher than I’ve ever climbed before by taking in the scenery. Southwest Colorado is an amazing place!

Snowshoes back on we started our decent back through the forest and marshes. There was nothing instant about this process. It was a long and laborious journey just to get the base of the mountain. The climb was concentrated and slow. The hike back was a huge physical and mental push to make it back to the car. However, I haven’t had this much of a gratifying day in a long time.

As this was just a practice run for the Mt. Shasta trip, there is still plenty to be done before I leave for California. I’m continuing my strength training through the week with long hikes on the weekends. My goal is to raise an additional $3,000 for the Breast Cancer Fund. Help me by going to my donations page at Every donation, no matter how small or large, will help in our fight to prevent breast cancer! Donate today!