To be accurate, Amy Legate (pictured above, on the right) recently reached the summit of Mt. Shasta for the second time. But if numbers are the focus, let’s get directly to the meat of the issue:
• 5 = Years that Amy has been a breast cancer survivor.
• 27 = Climbers, including Amy, who took on the physical and mental challenge to Climb Against the Odds on Mt. Shasta this year.
• 4,000 = Feet, for glissading down the West Face of Shasta. Weeee….
• 85,000 = Synthetic chemicals registered in the U.S.
• 95 = Percentage of those synthetic chemicals that have never been assessed for potential impacts on human health.
• 1 = Number of moments it takes to resolve to make a difference.
Amy’s moment of resolve came back in 2009, after having finished eight rounds of chemotherapy. She recently had learned of the Breast Cancer Fund and the Climb Against the Odds. She was ready: her focus could now shift from fighting back from cancer to once again training for things she loved to do. Three years ago, she climbed for herself. This year, she climbed for dear friends and family currently facing breast cancer, and to celebrate her own five-year survivor mark.
The Breast Cancer Fund (BCF) is the only national organization focusing exclusively on prevention. According to Amy (with some information gathered from the BCF website): 100% of the money raised through the Climb Against the Odds program goes directly to support the Breast Cancer Fund’s groundbreaking efforts to identify and eliminate the environmental causes of the disease. Alarmingly, one in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime. A growing body of scientific evidence points to toxic chemicals and radiation in our everyday environment as factors in the sharp rise of breast cancer incidence.
Ibex encourages you to take a look at the Breast Cancer Fund site – to gather information, to donate, or both. In the meantime, please meet the Wonder Woman from our office that has encouraged many moments of resolve among those lucky enough to call her a friend and colleague. (Also, please read our first interview with Amy from October 2011).
Ibex Question (IQ): You have the unique perspective of both a breast cancer survivor and a passionate outdoorswoman. Why are programs that link a physical challenge with fundraising so powerful?
Amy Legate (AL): Climbing a mountain is such a perfect metaphor for beating cancer. During my “year of treatment” the big picture of what lie ahead was too overwhelming, but once I broke it down to what I had to do this week, or today, or just this hour, it quickly became more manageable. When looking at Mt. Shasta from base camp it looked ominous, but by taking just one step at a time, we reached the top.
IQ: So, your Mt. Shasta ascent was successful?
AL: Yes, in so many more ways than just reaching the mountain’s summit. Roped with three teammates and our guide we reached the summit after nine grueling hours of climbing. The weather was spectacular and the majestic mountain allowed us up.
IQ: Can you give us an overview of the climb?
AL: We left the Bunny Flats trailhead hiking through Mt Shasta’s wilderness area ultimately reaching base camp located at Hidden Valley by early afternoon. Here we set up camp and prepared to leave at 2:00 a.m. the following morning. Each team rose in the dark, tried to eat a hearty breakfast, strapped on crampons and headed up.
Watching the climbers with headlamps work their way up the west face in the dark is my favorite part, along with sunrise casting the mountain’s shadow across the valley. Roughly six to seven hours after leaving base camp we crested the very steep West Face. Here was an opportunity to rest, warm up, and un-rope for the remainder of the summit approach. There is a small section of easy traversing, giving your muscles a chance to rest. Then up Misery Hill, across the summit plateau, and the last push up to the summit pinnacle. Such emotion arises on the summit and we have a few moments to reflect, celebrate, and honor those we are climbing for by flying our prayer flags in the wind.
Descending off the summit is very exciting although there is still a long day ahead in order to get down safely. Luckily for our team the conditions were perfect for glissading down 4,000-feet of the West Face. With just a short hike back into base camp left, we were motivated with cheers and jubilation from the others.
IQ: You’ve climbed Shasta before. What was the most challenging part this year?
AL: Climbing the last 2,000 feet of the West Face was by far my toughest point both physically and mentally. I wouldn’t have made it without the incredible support and friendship of my rope team. They wouldn’t let me quit and kept my focus on taking just one more step.
IQ: How did you prepare for this year’s climb?
AL: Skiing, hiking, and an occasional run or trip to the gym. I didn’t train this year as much as I should have and was definitely regretting that on the way up.
IQ: What advice would you give to others interested in taking part in a Breast Cancer Fund event?
AL: I would highly recommend anyone to sign up for the Climb Against the Odds. They won’t be disappointed; it truly is a life changing experience. The Breast Cancer Fund’s staff provides you with support from day one, guiding you in your training and fundraising, connecting you with team mates and trainers, making it an incredible experience for all.
IQ: What’s next up for you?
AL: To keep enjoying my day-to-day life, spending time with my family and friends, doing the things I love to do. Being a cancer survivor helps to keep me focused on what’s important. Although life gets busy and it’s not always easy, I try to remember the lessons I learned along my journey.
IQ: Thank you, Amy. Here’s to good health, good friendship and many more adventures along the way!
Breast Cancer Fund: http://www.breastcancerfund.org
Climb Against the Odds: http://www.breastcancerfund.org/events/climb-against-the-odds/