Author archive for Nate Lanting

  • Program Updates

    Reaching The Summit – 2018

    - by Nate Lanting

    This past week the second of two teams reached the summit of Mt. Ranier bringing to a close another successful year of climbs for Recovery Beyond and the Climbing Out program. The energy and effort that was put into this program as a team (donors, volunteers, climbers, staff, and others who supported our efforts), is most reflected in this capstone climb. Thank you for your involvement and congrats to our collective success.

    Watching someone in our climb program move from being disconnected from community and struggling with a low-view of themselves, to standing on top of the highest peak in Washington, connected and beaming with confidence, is why we do this work. Sarah Farrens, a 2018 recovery climber, shared this sentiment and her experience at Camp Muir this past week.

    Without the commitment and dedication of the entire team, what we accomplished could not have been possible. The board, the staff, the donors, the many volunteers, and the miraculous dedication of our recovery climbers, together allows for this collective success. So again, thank you!

    We had 100{637c4c527fde39f83a380e19107d2ba88ad72607f37ccf8f8b7edeff1c20688c} summits for recovery climbers, all injury free, and a monumental achievement in our climbers lives, the community, and this program’s history.  Here are a few more details surrounding our capstone climb.

    2018 Rainier Climb Stats:

    • 8 recovery climbers summited Mt. Rainier (4 women, 4 men) – all indicated when asked that this was a top accomplishment in their life
    • 23 total RBP climbers (including guides) to the summit
    • 45 volunteers helped with guiding, basecamp support, portering, celebration picnics, trip briefings and more

    Take a look at these stunning photos showcasing this year’s climb.

    Tacoma Team on the Paradise Steps before their hike to Camp Muir, Paradise, WA
    photo courtesy: Greg Balkin

    Seattle Team having dinner at Camp Muir

    McKenzie Johnson Crossing onto the Emmons Shoulder at Dawn
    photo courtesy: John Colver

    Little Tahoma, Near High Break, Emmons Glacier – 13,500′
    photo courtesy: Greg Balkin

    Ladder Crossing, Near High Break, Emmons Glacier, 13,500ft
    photo courtesy: Greg Balkin

    Peering into a Crevasse, the Emmons Shoulder, near 13,200′
    photo courtesy: Greg Balkin

    TACOMA SUMMIT PHOTO 2018
    photo courtesy: Greg Balkin

    Seattle Team Packed Up, Leaving Camp Muir

    Watermelon Tradition! – Watermelon Break at Pebble Creek before final decent to Paradise.
    photo courtesy: Scott Brown

    Tacoma Team Picnic at Paradise, WA

    Seattle Team Picnic at Paradise, WA, our tradition of cutting the “mountain cake” with the ice axe!

  • 2018 Climb Team

    Sarah Farrens

    - by Nate Lanting

    Name: Sarah Farrens
    Age: 35
    From: Spanaway, WA

    Sarah and her other recovery climbers and leaders at the summit of Mt. Rainier, 14,410ft. (Sarah is in the blue coat and purple helmet, second from the left)

    A Little Bit About Sarah

    For Sarah, a native of Spanaway, motherhood was the best motivation to turn her life around. “I have these two beautiful children (Ally is 5 and Bubba is 3) that I wasn’t being the best mom too, so I was willing to try anything,” she said of joining the Climbing Out climb team. 30-day-programs had failed her before, and she had to hit rock bottom before finding her way here. “[The Climb Team] is a commitment I’m sticking to!” she says, “It is a healthy replacement that gets me motivated to be strong and healthy.” Her goals outside of the climb itself include pursuing a career as a substance abuse counselor while becoming the best mom to her kids.

    Two days ago, on August 8th, 2018, Sarah did the unthinkable. She stood atop Mt. Rainier. 14,410ft, the tallest peak in Washington, and a great metaphor for what she has come to accomplish this last year. We couldn’t be more proud of her. A year ago to the day, she was on another relapse. Today she tells us she feels like a whole new person, a better mom, a better friend, and a now one heck of a mountain climber! She did it!

    On August 7th, hours before her summit climb, we interviewed Sarah about her experience being on this team. Here is what she had to say.

    RBP:  What is the main thing you’ve been given from this climb team?

    Sarah:  “A family and a network of support. These people are my family now. I’ve never had relationships like this. I can trust and be trusted now. Also, I have healthy muscles and am so much happier than before, so that’s nice too!”

    RBP:  Do you think you would have the same success without this program?

    Sarah:  “I don’t think so. The outdoors brings some sort of peace to me. The ability to breathe. The ability to get outside yourself. I love how small it makes you feel; it puts things in perspective. And mountain climbing can be kind of messy too, but it’s a good mess. A mess where I can meet myself in a “whole” way. The reason I started drinking is that I was so insecure. I felt like a mess. You get a lot of things in addiction you wouldn’t normally get in sober life. Now I have more time and the confidence to do things. I’ve been like “Woah, I can do this without all of that” (addiction). It gives me something different to seek.”

    RBP:  Why do you climb?

    Sarah:  “A year ago, I could barely get out of bed in the morning ya know. Now I get to do something like this (points to Mt. Rainier from Camp Muir). I am excited to share this with my kids and for them to know that mommy did this for them. I want to show them how to do life right. I want them to see they can do things!”

    RBP:  Do your kids realize what you’re doing right now?

    Sarah:  “When I tell them I’m climbing that mountain (points to Mt. Rainier), they say “you’re doing what Mom? How do you do that? How do you get up there?” They know that mommy is climbing mountains, but I don’t think they fully get it (she laughs)”

    RBP:  What is this giving them? Why are you doing this?

    Sarah:  “I want to show them, and myself that I can stick with things. That I can work hard and accomplish great things. I want them to know that I would climb to the top of a mountain for them each and every day.”

    RBP:  What do you think has been the biggest change they’ve seen in you as their mom?

    Sarah:  “That their mommy is there for them now and that there is mental stability in the home. I can be there now, I am present, and I can take care fo them as their mom. We can move forward as a family, whereas last year I couldn’t do that. This means the world to me.”

    Sarah Farrens crossing “spicy” terrain on the upper mountain – Mt. Rainier, WA

     

    2018 Tacoma Climb Team – Summit of Mt. Rainier – photo courtesy: Greg Balkin

     

    Sunrise on Mt. Rainier, smokey billowing clouds below. – photo courtesy: Greg Balkin

     

    Please consider supporting Sarah and the other climber’s like her by joining our Community Of Compassion.

    Join & Donate Today

  • Program Updates

    BOOTS NEEDED: Literally Support a Climber

    - by Nate Lanting


    LITERALLY, SUPPORT our program climbers by providing boots

    Christmas is less than a week away!

    You may be last minute shopping and running those last errands for your annual Christmas party; we are busy this week!  When you’re out-and-about this week consider supporting our program in a practical way…

    The most essential piece of gear for any physical activity often starts with the feet. Our feet are our base. We use our feet to walk, to shop, to run, to go get the mail, to meet a friend and for us, to climb. They are the “foundation” to our bodies framework (for most of us). When it comes to hiking and climbing, it starts with a good pair of boots!

     

    Our program relies on donations and is in need of boots! Hiking boots and mountaineering boots; both!

    Well supported, waterproof, hiking boots is what we are looking for. You can donate boots to us directly here (Donate Gear Here) or by visiting our REI “Climbing Out Wish List”. More specific details are provided there. (Climbing Out Wish List)

    If you have questions, email us at [email protected]


    No Boots? Other Items Needed at this time:

    -Micro-Spikes

    -Gaiters

    -Hiking Pants

    -Rain Pants

    -Base Layers

    Visit Here for more specifics: REI Wish List

  • 2017 Climb Team

    Becky Vinson

    - by Nate Lanting

    She is on our team.

    Becky Vinson is known for her deep love of others and an “I-can-do-that” attitude. This last year, she was one of our community climbers with our Climbing Out program. Her wit, sass, and southern charm is top-notch in our book. Becky is one of a kind. Recently we had the opportunity to interview her and hear more about what makes Becky, Becky. She shared her ups and downs, the courage needed along the way and some of her reflections on the climbing program.

    We are glad to know her. She is on our team.


     

    Becky lived through more real-life nightmares than most kids ever should. One of her earlier memories was losing her father. He was murdered at a local pool hall after a fight broke out. Her family was devastated and she felt horrified that she never was able to say “goodbye”. Things got worse. Home life was hell. With a very abusive step-father at home, home was not “home” at all. During Becky’s senior year in high school she was kicked out of her house. She was homeless and just looking to catch a break.

     

    Growing up on a hog farm in North Carolina teaches a kid a thing or two about hard work. She possessed some deep seeded grit and toughness, or at least enough to keep moving. Becky knew she had to do something more than stay homeless and one day, she finally caught her break.

     

    There was a posting for a military test in town and if you showed up you would get donuts. She thought, “I don’t think the military is for me, but I’ll go for the donuts and take the test.” She ate donuts, and to her surprise, she aced the test. “Every branch of the military was calling,” said Becky. The first shimmer of light was breaking through. She thought, “this will get me off the streets. They have food. I will get education and money. I have to do this.”


     “Every branch of the military was calling.” The first shimmer of light was breaking through. She thought, “this will get me off the streets.”


    A few months later she was at boot camp facing another challenge; one that became a defining moment in her story.

     

    “I’ll never forget this as long as I live. During one of our trainings, I really wanted to take a breather; I couldn’t keep going. They don’t let you do that there. The drill sergeant was yelling at me and I told him ‘I can’t do it’! I think he saw I was actually trying and I was serious. The sergeant broke out of character a bit and said, ‘Listen if you put your mind to it, you can do it’. That’s pretty much all I needed. Thank God, he said that! That changed my mind set forever. I already was doing this, but it sunk in deep then. And it’s changed me forever. It’s now the attitude I always hold.”

     

    After the military Becky continued to beat the odds. She aced most of the ACT and decided to become a nurse. “I could then finally legit go to college; I knew I was smart. No one in my family went to college. When I was young I was told I was dumb and I trusted that. It was totally false. To come from being homeless to going to college; this is still my greatest personal achievement to date. I was so happy to be there! I was like ‘EDUCATE ME, I’M ALL IN!'”


    “‘Listen if you put your mind to it, you can do it’. That’s pretty much all I needed.”


    This narrative of overcoming impossible challenges continued on and on. As a senior in college she adopted a 14-year-old kid from a church she was attending. He went on to play in the NFL. She traveled to other countries to help with their medical practice. She knew that administering medicine was needed in those desperate lands, so she went back to school and became a nurse practitioner.

     

     

    This past year we journeyed with Becky’s and her story as she joined our Climbing Out climbing team.

    She wanted to face another challenge; the “impossible” goal of climbing Mt. Rainier. And also to do it with what she calls “MY PEOPLE”. “If they can do it, I can do it, and vice versa. This is just another obstacle and I am not afraid.” Becky’s vibrant personality became a gift for the entire team. And more importantly, Becky, like the rest of the obstacles in her life, continued to show up with the attitude of “If you put your mind to it, you can do it.” On a fitness level, she was a long shot to be ready and able to climb. But by the summer, Becky had “wow-ed” us. She trained and trained and trained. She was ready. And she climbed mountains.

     

    Some significantly challenging moments earlier in life made Becky the woman she is today. Taught her she is stronger than she thinks she is, and wth a team you can go far in life. Becky, you are a dangerously-brave, fun-hearted mountain climber my friend.


    “This is one of the most life-changing volunteer experiences I’ve ever had.”


    When asked “what would you say to others considering volunteering?” Becky’s replied by saying: “You’d be a fool not to do it. I am a person that does enormous amounts of volunteer work everywhere I’ve been. This is one of the most life-changing volunteer experiences I’ve ever had. Try it out!”

     

    Becky’s story inspires us. She is on our team.

     

  • Program Updates

    Mountains help us out…

    - by Nate Lanting

               “In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks”         ~  John Muir


    Ascent Up Mt. Rainier


     

    This year was different than most climbing years. It presented new challenges and more “failure” than I expected or knew how to handle.

    How will I respond to failure? How will I choose to tell the story?

    There’s this mantra out there, maybe it’s on a bumper sticker somewhere or maybe it’s called the American Dream, that if you work hard enough you will get what you want. When I was a kid I remember my parents telling me I can become whatever I want to be, as long as I put my mind to it. I think I asked my mom if I could work at Disneyland when I grow up. I’ve obviously missed my calling. But that’s how life works right? You can get what you want by the power of your will.

     

    Or is it?

     

    Mountains help us out.

     

    I appreciate that about mountains. They are realistic. They don’t apologize. They don’t care about my feelings. They are indifferent to my life goals or my 7-step plan. Sometimes a mountain lets you climb, and other times it doesn’t. Somehow being at the mercy of a mountain sets my perspective just right.

    Reality … check.

    Camp Muir, Mt. Rainier

     

    If you take a look back at an earlier blog post from this year, you’ll read a story about a serious mountain “gut-check”. Back in May we went after Mount Hood and we pretty much failed. It was tough. The mountain was not kind. We weren’t prepared and we got whipped, with about half of the team turning around early. Our team felt scattered and could have fallen apart. It was hard. But it became both a teacher and a motivator.

    We trained harder, we got faster, stronger, and more connected as a team. “This time we will be ready!” Some climbed extra mountains to prepare. Diets became more strict. Technical training increased. Mount Rainier was in our sites and we were going to get it this time. This time will be different.

     

    Mountains help us out.

     

    Mount Rainier said no. Mic drop. At 13,500 ft, a snow-plug the size of a football field fell through making the route impassable. The mountain decided it wasn’t going to let us climb. No one climbed to the summit for three or four days, us included.

    Reality… check.

    We say this phrase a lot, I’m sure you’ve heard something similar a time or two…“life is about the journey and not the summit”. WHAT. Get out of here. I want the summit! I’ll be honest with you, I want to get to the summit and then get the heck off the mountain. Another notch on my belt. (Maybe I should work at Disneyland; where dreams do come true.)

    Team Debrief of the Rainier Climb

     

    This year the metaphorical mountains we had to cross and trek over as a team were more technical and demanding than years in the past. This required more out of us every step of the way. More teamwork, more communication, more strategy, more change of plans, more love, more humility, more of us in every way. In the moment it sucked, but looking back, I wouldn’t want it any other way. This journey made us a team, and made each of us better women and men because of it. This team became accustomed to the value and worth of the team itself. In the end that’s what life’s all about anyway, who you take along on these messy, beautiful, life-adventures.  This is the kind of life I want to live; living in the tension of the journey, with the risk of failure or success up in the air, doing it alongside those I love. These are the kind of stories I want to tell. The epic tales of a team.

     

    Lounging on the newest mountain accessory. The inflatable couch.

     

    I think it was best said by Matthew and Uncle Mark the evening before we set foot up the mountain back in August. Below, read what Matthew had learned. He nailed it; Relationship, failures included.

    Sometimes we need failure like we need air. Sometimes a change of perspective isn’t what we planned on, but exactly what we need; reminding us about how to be human again and drawing us back together.

    Mountains, help us out.

     


    Matthew and Mark share their reflections

     

    “I went from having no relationships, to having so many people surrounding me that love me. It’s really been those relationships that have gotten me to this point. If it wasn’t for my team and leaders, I would have never grown physically or spiritually as I have.

    Im at the point now where I know that it’s not just about summiting; whether I made it or not. This (points at people around the table) is the victory that I have been seeking and searching for. Obviously that (the summit) is something I have been working for and is something I want, but it’s been the relationships that are the most important thing in life I’ve realized. You all are going to be here after Mount Rainier is over. So thank you.”  

    ~ Matthew Arthur, 2017 Climber

     

    “THIS IS THE PROGRAM. What we have here as a team, who you are now sitting at this table, that’s who you are, that’s what you’ve gotten from this program”

    ~ Mark Ursino, RBP President

  • Program Updates

    “No Limits!”

    - by Nate Lanting

    Winter air pours across my exposed neck and face as I reach out to grasp the handle of a large timber-framed door.  Slowly the door creaks open, leading inside a friendly mountain lodge. I move through a few more doors, and finally come to meet the team. It’s almost nine in the evening and the climb team is gathered inside the Timberline Lodge at the base of Mt. Hood, preparing for their first mountain climb. Some are huddled by a stone fireplace keeping warm, others are making final gear adjustments on the floor, and a few pace about, trying to relax before we set-trail. Nervous chatter fills this space. Anticipation, excitement, and fear are palpable between each “hello”.

    A few large north-facing windows frame the moment best. I walk over and peer out. Mt. Hood stands tall and silent, covered in crystallized white ice and snow, somber and ready for our arrival.  The mountain is slowly turning a deep blue and orange as the sun fades behind the hills. A beautiful and thrilling sight. I take a deep breath, a moment to calm and center myself. I check my watch, it’s now nine o’clock and time to go. Turning back, I cut through the team’s excited chatter, and announce,  “Alright, it’s time”.

     

     

    As if we are readying ourselves for battle, we make our final gear preparation, tightening our boots, securing our helmets, adjusting our packs and wielding our ice axes in hand. We are ready to climb. With five months of training behind us, now an entire mountain is looming overhead. For the next few hours we put it all on the line. A four mile trek, and six thousand feet of elevation gain up to the summit. A serious gut-check. An adventure, filled with perseverance, fear, and achievement. We gather for a final briefing, shout our team mantra “No Limits!”, and set up the snowy hill. No turning back now. Off we go into the darkness; one step up at a time.

     

    Mt Hood Summit Team

     


     

    One month ago, the climb team was on it’s way up the snowy slopes of Mt. Hood, testing it’s limits for the first time.  Our team mantra since our first hike has been “no limits!”, a statement reminding ourselves that we can go farther and do more together. This mantra was put to the test on Mt. Hood. We met our limit that night. Only one program climber made it to the summit. As we sauntered back down the mountain, failure hung overhead and the team was at a crossroads.

     

    “Will we go on? ‘No limits’, really? Can we actually go farther together?” Valid, unspoken questions standing in the face of a newly formed team.

     

    As I look back on the Mt. Hood climb and our ascent upward, I’d like to share my reflections and the story that’s unraveling.

     


     

    Each year we come to this point. A true test of “team”; a real moment of definition. Everyone reaches Mt. Hood, ready or not, and we climb. Not knowing what the mountain will give us or how the team will perform. And it seems that year after year this mountain becomes a turning point in the story; a real change of perspective.

     

    This year was quite the gut check. To start, before we even arrived at Mt. Hood, two of our program climbers could not climb for a few personal reasons.  Next, we climbed with a strong and constant thirty mile-an-hour wind, sucking the energy right out of us as we hiked. After seven hours of slow climbing, three climbers called it quits only five hundred feet from the summit. Exhausted and freezing, we were down to one program climber out of six. We reached the top through a near-vertical ice chute called “the Pearly Gates”. This was a tough climb.

     

    The Pearly Gates

     

    For those that made it to the top, there was excitement and pride. For those that did not, disappointment and failure. If you do not climb Mt. Hood, you do not continue on. Summiting Mt. Hood is the prerequisite climb to our Mt. Rainier climb in August.

     

    Failure is a part of life, but never easy. This makes life hard. The challenge of failure becomes less about the actual failure itself and more about how we choose to respond in the face of failure. With such little success after a first difficult climb what are we supposed to do next? How would we respond in the face a failure?

     

    As a leader, I have made it very clear that both in climbing and in life, it’s not about the summit of a mountain, but the journey it takes to get there. Often we have no idea what life will give us or what will be around each bend. It’s important we are ready and well supported to take on the challenges that come our way. Sometimes we have to change our plans, adjust, and reset our perspective. We have to take a turn in the road.

     

    For those climbers that did not summit Mt. Hood that night, that was supposed to be the end. After a few days of emails back and forth, we were reminded that “the team” itself was the most important part of the program. We shout “no limits!” before every workout or climb for a reason, and we were going to stick by this mantra. We were a team, summit or not. We were going to stick with it, train harder, and continue on together this year.

     

    Mountains are not easy to climb, that’s why we climb them. They challenge us significantly in each faculty of our being. Since Mt. Hood each climber has reflected on their experience differently. But one underlying theme that’s risen is that we are a team, and we will continue on together. Many have mentioned that their perspective shifted days following that climb. They realized that the team and the relationships they formed are the most important part of this program. That together, with trust and hard work, they can do more together than apart. A turning point in the story; a real change of perspective.

     

    Mt. Rainier comes in 54 days. And 54 days with more twists and turns in this story. But together, we are stronger. “No Limits!” remains our mantra, whether we fail or succeed, we continue forward.

     

  • Program Updates
    Climb Team Schedule

    The Icebreaker …

    - by Nate Lanting

    “Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out going to the mountains is going home; that wilderness is a necessity…”      –  John Muir

     

    After six months of hiking, city runs and rope training, anticipation for what’s next is at an all-time high. This journey of preparation and training takes the 2017 climb team to Oregon’s tallest peak…

     

    Mount Hood. 

    … a mountaineering “icebreaker” of sorts. Welcome to mountaineering folks.

     

    In one week this team of courageous fighters will attempt its summit. An alluring, jagged, ice-covered tower, hovering east over Portland; this eleven thousand-foot mountain is the first significant test in the journey toward Mount Rainier.

     

    Mount Hood, Oregon

     

    Climbing mountains is tough. It just is. It takes sustained hard work; months of training, overcoming, and challenging oneself to keep going. To take on the steep slopes of Mt Hood, each climber has had to put in hours and hours of training to be able to stand atop the summit.

     

    Back in the early days of November, we began this journey upward. The invitation was out for all Tacoma Rescue Mission men and women to join. The only requirement was a commitment to the team and a desire for a real life change. Since then, some have come and gone, but two women and three men have stuck with it. These five have dedicated themselves to weekly workouts, monthly hikes, and new relationships.

     

    We have hiked all over the cascade hills and mountains. Recently our team hiked Mailbox Peak, as well as Mount Si, with fully-loaded mountaineering packs (see pictures below). Led by Recovery Beyond Paradigm founder and experienced mountaineer, Mark Ursino; each hike added a new level of climbing expertise and mountaineering knowledge. Each climber has gained the tools and mountaineering skills to climb Mt. Hood with a great amount of confidence. Additionally, through deepening relationships, the team is growing to trust one another and rely on the teamwork necessary to summit such great heights.

     

    Top of Mailbox Peak – North Bend, WA

     

    Post-Hike Huddle // Team Mantra -“No Limits!”

     

    As this team sets in for its final work week of preparation, like any mountain we face in life, we can expect a few bumps along the way. We each need support to get up, and keep going. You are invited to join us here for updates, and as you look on, we invite you to encourage these courageous women and men.

    (You can encourage a climber here: Encourage A Climber . Scroll to the bottom and leave a note!)

    In the late evening hours of May 19th, we will ascend upward toward the summit of Mt Hood. One step closer to our goal of summiting Mt. Rainier.

     

    Panorama Point – Mt. Rainier, WA

  • 2015 Climb Team

    Mike Rivera

    - by Nate Lanting

    Mike was tired of being lonely and was hungry for more.

    Growing up in Puerto Rico and surrounded by a hard family life, at a young age Mike came to believe he was unlovable. Never living with his mom and dad at the same time, the feeling of “home” and “security” was uncommon. The people that were supposed to love him the most, not only neglected him, but eventually left him altogether. After decades of living with low self-esteem, hating himself, and using drugs and alcohol to cope with the pain, Mike desperately wanted a change.

    After finishing a free meal at the Seattle’s Union Gospel Mission, Mike noticed the hope of the men’s lives in the addiction recovery program at this mission. That’s all he needed; he was in for a change, hoping for one that would last a lifetime. That hope would turn into more life and love than he expected to ever find. Shortly after joining the program, Mike joined the climbing team. More like a family, this team supported him in recovery and changed his paradigm on relationships altogether.

    “It was a family away from family. When I knew no one in Seattle, all of a sudden I was with a bunch of people that were giving me more love than I’ve been given in long time.”

    “Truly what helped the most was being around others constantly, especially through physical training and hiking created new friendships. I began to trust the climb team. Overtime, the constant encouragement and camaraderie of the climbing team began changing me. I began believing and knowing that the men and women I was around had my back no matter what. This changed me forever. “

    “These accomplishments will never be forgotten. I talk to a lot of guys I climbed with in 2015 still and we all have been significantly impacted by this climbing program. This becomes like a family or really church. We check-in, encourage, and support one another through life’s ups-and-downs”

    Mike now works at Amazon and Seattle’s Union Gospel Mission, and is on his 3rd year of sobriety.

  • 2015 Climb Team

    Sam Roa

    - by Nate Lanting

    Growing up in the northwest, Sam never knew stable and healthy relationships.  Between his family never settling in one place, his mom struggling with a drug addiction and eventually leaving her family for a gang member; the pain of broken relationships only grew. Sam had to grow up quicker than most. Learning how to fend for himself, he quickly got mixed up with the wrong crowd. An addiction to meth and selling drugs became his life after serious heartbreak and failed work opportunities. Sam eventually found himself homeless and desperate. Looking for help, Sam checked himself into the addiction recovery program at Seattle’s Union Gospel Mission. He knew anything positive would be better than the life he was currently living.

    Sam found hope and life there. And over that year, Sam decided to continue to challenge himself and join the climbing team.  This team challenged him not only to grow in healthy relationships, but also grow in his relationship with himself. Sam was overweight, out of shape and he knew it. Being out of shape, put him “behind” the rest. He knew the challenge ahead was significant. To succeed he knew he needed to not quit on himself, and when he wanted to quit, Sam learned that his team would not quit on him either.

    More and more self-confidence grew workout after workout for Sam. He learned he could do more than he ever imagined with the encouragement of a team and learned what teamwork was really all about for the first time. Unknown to him, the largest challenge he faced was still ahead. After months of training and getting into shape, Sam unfortunately failed to summit Mt. Hood (A mountain, climbers must summit to continue on to Mt. Rainier ). His climbing with the team had ended.

    Sam was frustrated with himself and felt like a failure. Sam was faced with a difficult question, “How am I going to respond to this difficulty?” With the support of his leaders, and the encouragement of the team, Sam decided to continue to show up. He continued to train, continued to support those climbing, and took on a new role; ‘team encourager’. Before the team left for Mt. Rainier, Sam helped load the van, prepare meals and load packs. He also did something no one expected, he wrote a letter of encouragement to each of his teammates for each of them to read up on the mountain. This response was transformative. This was a summit Sam climbed for all; one that will always be regarded as a “higher summit” than any mountain top.

    “The reward was not the mountain, it was the relationships and lessons we learned along the way. They say it’s not about the destination, but the journey, and this has never been truer.”

    “I felt healthy as a person. I had never felt like that before. The guys would say ‘we need you here’ or ‘we need you still, to encourage us, please don’t leave’. They didn’t look at me like I was not on the team. They wanted me there. This brotherhood and this team changed me”.

    “These people chose to be a part of this program. These guys were bold and strong. They were like family. We were a core group that really came to love each other. We all really wanted to be good, to do good, to live good lives, and to show others how to do the same. It’s been two years and we still check up on each other. This family and this good still continues today.”

    Sam remains healthy and connected to his team of support, and recently received a great job as a correctional officer at a state prison.

  • Program Updates

    Meet 2017’s Program Climbers

    - by Nate Lanting

    “It is not the mountain we conquer, but ourselves” – Edmund Hillary

    The 2017 Climb Team


    An ocean of clouds spilling over the vast landscape below, coated in a warming generous sunrise; a view only given to the few that journey ten thousand steps upward; only a final switchback to go now. Ice crunching and splintering below each foot; an ice axe in hand, holding vertigo at bay. Exhausted, a team of women and men take their final strides upward to the anticipated summit. A finale, a crescendo of accomplishment begins to play louder and louder in the background. Washington’s highest mountain top, a jagged ice-dome, towering over 14,000 feet, is conquered. The iconic Mt. Rainier is topped. This cohort breathes heavy and breathes deep, beaming with euphoric enthusiasm and celebrating as they reach this unprecedented height. These courageous fighters do the seemingly impossible, and accomplish a goal they set out for months before.

    The summit of any mountain can best be understood by the journey in which it’s reached. There is more to this “summit” than meets the eye. Understanding the beginning of this story is important and for these climbers, the journey upward started a long time ago.

    – – –

    For the past six years, Climbing Out has trained, mentored, and journeyed up mountains with recovering addicts; helping them achieve goals beyond anything they ever thought possible. Our program uses climbing mountains as both a literal and figurative metaphor for the effort required to turn one’s life around. Each year, we partner with year-long recovery programs in Washington State, inviting men and women to join this climbing program. Our purpose goes beyond normal recovery approaches, adding physical fitness, personal achievement, and the highest level of teamwork and commitment to one’s personal recovery. We finish the year with a final summit of Mt. Rainier, a five day ascent as the culminating event of achievement.

    This year, five program climbers from Tacoma Rescue Mission have joined the 2017 team. They have been training and climbing since November and are already making significant strides in their recovery. Their sights are set on the ultimate physical task of climbing Mt. Rainier. Through sustained hard work and support from a team, by August this year we hope each climber stands atop that snowy giant. I would like to briefly introduce you to the team, and as we journey through the summer ahead, you will hear more from each climber, the significance of this upward “climb” for them, and the heights we travel along the way.

    • Abi Brewer, from Lakewood, WA, is a mother and an aspiring tattoo artist. She seeks to one day share her story and help others that have found themselves struggling like she once did. For her, the climb team has shown that she can do more than she thinks she can, creating hope toward becoming the type of mother and woman she wants to become.
    • Matthew Arthur loves learning life lessons through training and climbing. “Doing things I don’t want to do, putting in the hard work, ends up showing up in other areas of my life” said Matthew. As he continues to grow, his goal is to build life changing relationships to help him move forward; becoming the best father for his daughter and eventually go back to school near Tacoma, WA where he grew up.
    • Steve Dempsey, originally from central Idaho, is finding success and recovery this year in his program at Tacoma Rescue Mission and being a part of the climbing team. “I have realized the importance of team in my recovery process and that I can push myself further than I thought with the help of God and others.” Steve’s goals forward are to stay sober, go back to school, and have healthy relationships with his family and God.
    • Tisha Moore, has a determined spirit, challenging herself to keep pushing every step of the way. Growing up in Pierce County, Tisha intends on joining a machinist’s apprenticeship program after graduating. When asked what her favorite part of the climb team is, Tisha said “It’s the amazing feeling of reaching each goal with teamwork, consistency and perseverance”
    • Christian Winterholler, from Kent, WA, desires to be the best hardworking and loving father for his two sons. He keeps showing up to the climb team even when it’s been uncomfortable. With determined patience and holding a positive outlook, he is finding that hurdles in life can be overcome. Teamwork has also been a new life lesson for Christian. As challenges arise, whether in climbing or in life, he has begun to allow others to help him up along the way.

    We each have our mountains in life; some small, and some large; each with its own necessary training, jagged peaks to scale, and potential unforeseen hazards along the way. We have learned through our Climbing Out Program, that it takes a team to climb up and over these hills; we cannot do it alone. As this team journeys toward Mt. Rainier in the months ahead, I invite you to look on, be inspired by these five climbers, and consider your own personal mountain ahead and the team required to climb it. We believe the view from the top is definitely worth the ten thousand steps upward.

    See you out on the trail…

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