Kelsy Woodson is not a mountaineer.
Neither is most of the 35-member team that will set out on June 19 to climb Mount Shasta, the second highest peak of the Cascade Range and fifth highest in California. Regardless of experience, this group has dedicated themselves to take on the challenge in the fight against breast cancer.
Woodson works for Osprey Pack in Cortez, Colo. Each year, Osprey supports a member of its staff in a fundraising campaign for The Breast Cancer Fund's “Climb Against The Odds” event. That includes raising $6,000 for cancer research and a climb of Mount Shasta.
“We climb because it is an apt metaphor for the Breast Cancer Fund's work to prevent a disease that now affects one in eight American women — a rate that virtually guarantees that we all know someone with breast cancer,” Woodson said.
Woodson, who grew up in Farmington, has already raised over half of her $6,000 goal of which 100 percent will go to breast cancer research. But raising money is only a part of the “Climb Against the Odds” campaign.
“There is no solution to breast cancer, but one thing we can do is bring attention to prevention of it within our environment, and that is what the Breast Cancer Fund is doing,” Woodson said.
She has been mountain biking, sport and trad climbing and trail running — all helpful cross-training activities to prepare for climbing a mountain. Wooson also plans on climbing some Colorado 14ers before the big ascent as well. She is doing all the preparations amidst a busy work schedule as the Event and Social Media Coordinator at Osprey Packs. The job keeps her on the road most of the time.
Woodson said she is participating in the event thanks to the support from her workplace and community.
Osprey Packs has dedicated itself to eliminating toxic chemicals from its products, including making hydration reservoirs that are BPA and PVC free.
Though Woodson is not a breast cancer survivor, she climbs in the spirit of the people she knows who have battled the disease.
“I have never been diagnosed with this disease but have cancer survivors such as my grandparents and friends who are struggling with the disease to this very day,” Woodson said in a prepared statement. “This is an important aspect as to why I am doing this climb. I climb as a way to recognize the individual perseverance that they might go through, and I climb to take part in this unstoppable wave of reason in eliminating toxic chemicals and radiation linked to this disease.”
A climb such as Mount Shasta is not an easy feat, and the Breast Cancer Fund does a lot to ensure climbers' preparedness.
“All climbers receive a training guide, which builds progressively over the months and includes aerobic/anaerobic/strength training, in addition to opportunities for personal and team hikes,” said Rebecca Wolfson, the communications coordinator of the Breast Cancer Fund. “The Breast Cancer Fund provides climbers with appropriate gear including top-of-the-line parkas, backpacks (donated from Osprey), boots and medical kits. Each climber is part of a training team and receives support from climbers in their region of the country. Climbers are assigned a training coach based on their geographic location in the country. The expert training leaders share tips to prepare for the climb and offer continued support to the climbers.”
The climb is described by Shasta Mountain Guides as a ‘moderate route' on Mount Shasta's west face.
On the first day, the group will hike from Bunny Flat trailhead at 6,950 feet to Hidden Valley base camp at approximately 9,600 feet. They will each carry 40-pound packs fully loaded with all of the necessary gear to set up camp and climb the mountain.
On the second day of the climb, the group will wake up around 1 a.m. to get ready for a summit attempt. While wearing crampons on their boots to grip the ice and carrying ice-axes, they will rope up into teams of six or seven and begin the climb, which is expected to take 12 to 16 hours.
Woodson is the older sister of Shane Woodson, a well-known Piedra Vista High School baseball player who graduated in 2011.
Helping others runs in the Woodson family.
“I truly look up to (Shane) for what a great person he has become. He has a huge heart for people from all walks of life,” Kelsy Woodson said. “For instance, he started visiting with the kids at the Special Ed class at Heights middle school in the sixth grade and to this day keeps in touch with them when he is home from school. To have that type of social integrity as a youngster has been a huge inspiration to me.”
There will be a silent auction and raffle at Ska Brewery on Friday, May 31 from 5 to 8 p.m. to help Woodson raise money for the climb. There will be live music, and prizes range from Telluride ski passes to rafting trips to a locally hand-crafted climbing chalk bag decorated with the breast cancer pink ribbon. To donate or learn more about Kelsy's Climb Against the Odds, go to the Breast Cancer Fund website.