Climbing to defeat cancer

STEVE LEWIS/Durango Herald

elsy Woodson trains for the Breast Cancer Fund Climb Against the Odds at Chapman Hill in Durango.

By Robert Galin
Herald Staff Writer

Osprey Packs employee Kelsy Woodson, of Durango plans to summit 14,163-foot Mount Shasta in Northern California to help raise $6,000 in the Breast Cancer Fund’s Climb Against the Odds expedition from June 16 to 21.

“Most of the (29) participants in this climb are cancer survivors or individuals who have been directly affected by losing a loved one (usually a parent) to the disease,” Woodson said in an email interview.

The Breast Cancer Fund website said the San Francisco-based nonprofit organization is working “to prevent breast cancer by eliminating our exposures to toxic chemicals. The Breast Cancer Fund analyzes the science, works for passage of landmark public health legislation, and convinces industry giants to make safer, less toxic products.”

Mount Shasta is a dormant volcano in the Cascade Range. It’s one of just six peaks outside of Colorado in the Lower 48 that rise above 14,000 feet and about 250 feet shorter than its cousin to the north, Mount Rainier in Washington State. Only about a third of the 15,000 annual attempts to summit Mount Shasta are successful, according to an organization called SummitPost.

Woodson got involved because the company she works for, Osprey Packs in Cortez, “is a huge supporter of Climb Against the Odds and donates the packs to the climbs each year,” Woodson said.

Osprey donates about 40 packs worth about $250 retail each, she said. More importantly, Osprey has been represented before: Durangoan Shannon Hahn made the climb last year, Woodson said.

The Breast Cancer Fund “embraces mountain climbing as a metaphor for the critical work we are doing to prevent the environmental causes of this devastating disease,” Woodson said.

“I personally am climbing for my grandma, who is a survivor of breast cancer, and for many individuals who have donated to my cause as a memoir of the loved ones they lost to the disease,” Woodson said. “I will be carrying (prayer) flags up to the top in memory of these individuals.”

Woodson was born in Farmington, graduated from Fort Lewis College and lives in Durango. She is Osprey’s social media/event coordinator and explained that the privately owned company has global partnerships with different organizations, mostly nonprofits, that address different social and environmental issues.

“So when the BCF contacted Osprey about supplying the packs for the climb, Osprey loved the idea and has been doing it ever since,” she said.

“I am a home-grown Four Corners native and am proud to represent our region in this journey,” she added.

“(Our) goal is to summit, and although everyone may not make it, we are a team and going to support each other the whole way up,” she said.

“It may be a slow climb because of the age range, 18 to 65 years old, but we all have been training and look forward to meeting each other in person and supporting each other in this epic journey.”

The hike should take “around 3 days, as we will camp at the Hidden Valley base camp, and then get an alpine start the next morning in hopes of summiting that day,” Woodson said.

Woodson’s training has taken a slightly different path than some mountain climbers.

“My training consists mostly of cross training,” she said. “I am on the road most of the summer attending all of the (industry) events, so climbing the actual mountains that will simulate the Mount Shasta climb is sometimes unattainable because of my schedule.”

Because the climb is about raising money, “my main focus prior to the climb,” she said, “will be meeting my goal of $6,000, which I have been doing by reaching out to local businesses, co-workers, family and friends. Toward the end of May, I will have two events to reach my goal.”

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