“I just have to keep telling myself we’re doing it for the kids” Andrew shouted as he came up along side me on the ridge. The wind was blowing hard, biting at our skin like thousands of invisible insects, and trying to steal our shouted communications before they could be received. I made out what Andrew had said and knew exactly what he meant, I felt the same way: tired and worn yet determined.
“Yeah man, we’re making good progress though” I shouted back trying to stay positive. I was a little worried though, it was still early and the wind would likely only increase as the day wore on. We continued up the ridge in a tight switchback fashion, the icy snow crunching under our crampons while fighting the strong gusts of wind that seemed to emanate from Boreas himself.
We had seen great weather the day before; blue skies, nice temps and no wind as we summited the first peak, Brokeoff Mountain, of our “Climb for Change: Two Peaks, Two Days, Two Beards” fundraising campaign for Peak 7 Adventures. Our second morning started with a cold wind even before the sun was up. Now that it was late morning and Andrew and I were nearing 9,000 feet on Mount Lassen the wind was only picking up, sapping our already tired bodies. Then, switching back onto the exposed portion of the ridge the wind was gone. Without warning Boreas’ temperament must have changed because the fierce cold gusts turned to a gently urging breeze.
Motivated by the sudden good fortune in weather and the cause for which we were climbing we began to make quick progress. We needed to summit before the snow started getting soft in the growing warmth of the sun. “Keep telling yourself it’s all for the kids!” I hollered with a laugh at Andrew some 20 feet behind me. Although it had become somewhat of a joke, we really were doing it for the kids.
Our “Climb for Change” campaign had a goal of raising $5,000 for Peak 7 Adventures, a non-profit organization in the Pacific Northwest that provides outdoor adventure programs for at-risk and under-served youth. We had set out to climb two peaks in two days while covering over 30 miles on snowshoes to raise awareness and funds for the organization. Helping those kids and making good on our word to summit both peaks pushed us onward and upward.
After some time we found ourselves making a turn north to follow the now gently sloping ridge to the summit block and highest point of Mount Lassen. To our left lay the still active Lassen volcanic crater peaceful and quite as we navigated the rock and ice of the last few vertical feet to the summit. Then in an anticlimactic moment we were standing at 10,463 feet with pristine views of Mount Shasta to the north, all of Lassen Park and Brokeoff Mountain to the south. We had done it! We had completed our climb… almost. We had summited both peaks successfully, now we just had to get off the mountain and back to the trailhead, another 13 miles.
The descent felt like a breeze compared to the steep climb. After some lunch we set out on our FLEX ALP snowshoes with full packs once again. By 6pm, 30 minutes behind schedule, we were back at the trailhead and officially done with our climb. We snapped a few photos at the visitor’s center trying to enjoy the better side of the bittersweet moment of realizing our campaign. A year of planning and months of fundraising had all come to finality in an instant. Andrew and I both felt a great sense of accomplishment and pride, but it was it was slightly backhanded by a sense of sadness that the campaign and climb were finished. We had covered over 30 miles on snowshoes in two days to climb the two tallest peaks in Lassen National Park to raise money for a truly awesome organization,
Peak 7 Adventures. We just couldn’t wait to do it all over again even bigger and better.