Alpine quest for the cure

Women and men living with breast cancer face an uphill battle every day in their fight to survive the deadly disease. On the weekend of June 7 and 8, Wedgwood resident Robin Schoenfeld took the fight to the slopes of Mount Hood as she and other climbers attempted the summit as part of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center's Climb to Fight Breast Cancer.A BITTERSWEET FIRST ATTEMPTOn the morning of June 8, Schoenfeld and 18 other climbers - along with four guides from Portland Parks and Recreation- set out at 2 a.m. to attempt the summit. The team was blessed with clear skies as the trekked up the icy slopes of Mount Hood."It was gorgeous watching the sun come up," Scheonfeld said. Unfortunately, Schoenfeld and her fellow climbers were unable to summit Mount Hood because the guides determined that avalanche risk near the peak would put the climbers in excessive danger. With the team's safety in mind guides led climbers to Illumination Rock, where they enjoyed breathtaking views of Mount St. Helens and the surrounding Cascades."It was bittersweet because it was such a beautiful day," Schoenfeld said.The attempt of Mount Hood was Schoenfeld's first endeavor in the high-altitude world of technical alpine climbing. Although her team failed to summit, Schoenfeld remains undeterred. She plans to return to Mount Hood to complete the climb and would also like to attempt Mount Rainier as well. To train, Schoenfeld embarked on frequent hikes around the Seattle area, including the steep trails of Mount Si. She would also run
up hills to build strength in her legs. Additionally, she had to become familiar with the technical climbing equipment she would
need on Mount Hood, such ascrampons and ice axes. "Once I was on the mountain I felt extremely prepared for it," Schoenfeld said.A PERSONAL CLIMBThe motivation for participating in the climb was personal for Schoenfeld. She wanted to honor a friend's mother who has survived breast cancer, as well as both of her grandfathers, who suffered from leukemia, and her grandmother, who has cancer.According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, breast cancer is the second most common form of cancer in women behind non-melanoma skin cancer. In 2004, 186,772 women and 1,815 men were diagnosed with the disease.The fund-raising goal set for all of the climbers participating in the Fred Hutchinson Climb to Fight Breast Cancer was $3,000. However, Schoenfeld raised a total of $5,000. To raise money for her climb Schoenfeld held a physical therapy/message day at her office, MCI Physical Therapy in Bellevue. On the day of the fund-raiser Schoenfeld and co-workers donated their services for free. The revenue from that day was then donated to the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center.Schoenfeld's charity work is not limited to her recent attempt at Mount Hood. She has also participated in a marathon for leukemia, the disease that claimed both of her grandfathers.OTHER FUND-RAISING CLIMBSThe 2008 Climb to Fight Breast Cancer marks the 11th year of the program. This year, climbers will go to not only some of the highest peaks in the Northwest but some of the tallest peaks around the world.The climbing event has planned several trips to Mount Baker, Mount Adams, Mount Hood and Mount Rainier, as well as larger expeditions to Mount Elbrus in Russia, Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania and the volcanoes of El Pico de Orizaba and Iztaccihuatl in Central Mexico.To contribute to the Fred Hutchinson Climb to Fight Breast Cancer donors can go the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center Web site at and donate directly to the center or find the link to the climb to sponsor a specific climber.[[In-content Ad]]