Donor Impact

Braving The Elements To Support Lasting Recovery

By in Donor Impact

“Usually, when I tell someone I climb mountains with “former addicts”, I get a response along the lines of, ‘That’s so cool! If you can climb a mountain, you can do anything, right?!’ Well, yes… and no. Reaching the summit of a big peak is incredible. For most of our recovery climbers, it’s something they would never have a chance to do outside this program. But if you ask any of these men or women what the true benefit is, they’ll tell you it’s about the team. […] It is my deep honor to journey with them as they continue to climb the greatest mountain of their lives – overcoming what led them to addiction and choosing to pursue healthy relationships and a life of sobriety. They are truly my heroes.” – Amelia, Fundraising climber

Amelisa Kaiser on Mount Rainier as part of the Recovery Beyond Fundraising Climb 2019.
Photo Courtesy Amelia Kaiser

Amelia is just one of seven fundraising climbers that participated in the Mount Rainier Fundraising climb this year. From May 16 -19, 2019, seven of our climbers, Abi Brewer, Camiya Brown, Christopher Poulos, Nate Lanting, Scott Brown, Amelia Kaiser, and Becky Vinson embarked on a climb of 14,411’ Mount Rainier to fundraise for Recovery Beyond. To date, gifts from 133 donors have been received and funds will go toward supporting our recovery program participants and expanding our programs.

We are blown away by this support and are filled to the brim with gratitude.

Though the climb itself is over, you can still contribute to our individual climber’s fundraising pages. Every fundraising climber has a reason for participating. Fundraising climber Christopher Poulos states, “The outdoors remains an essential component to my recovery and has helped me find both peace and community.”

While you graciously consider a donation that will reshape a life, let us give you a glimpse into the type of community we are building and the supportive network we have by sharing details of this fundraising climb.

For our climbers, it wasn’t about the summit.  It was about the journey, raising awareness for addiction recovery, and creating a sober community.

Photo Courtesy Nate Lanting

DAY 1 – International Mountain Guides (IMG) HQ

The first day was spent at the International Mountain Guides (IMG) headquarters. The constant rain meant snow at higher elevations, and increased snow meant increased safety concerns. Spirits remained high though and everyone kept their fingers crossed for better conditions. The group arrived at the IMG HQ around 2 PM, spent time getting to know each other, talked about their favorite dinosaurs, and then met with Willie Webster, their lead guide at IMG. Together, they reviewed trip details, the itinerary, weather report, and leave no trace principles. Three hours were spent doing a gear check.

Photo Courtesy Amelia Kaiser
Photo Courtesy Nate Lanting

A delicious dinner at Wildberry, a Nepalese restaurant, followed. The fundraising climbers received a Recovery Beyond Beanie (check out our store to purchase your own), water bottle, and a personalized “thank you” note from Nate, Recovery Beyond’s Program Manager, and fellow fundraising climber. The group ordered food and sat around the table sharing who they were, how they got plugged into Recovery Beyond, and why they were participating in the fundraising climb. The evening wrapped up and everyone returned to Lazy Bear Creek Cabin, a beautiful and quaint Air BnB cabin along a creek. A quick dip in the cabin’s hot tub ended the day.

The rain continued to pour all night.

DAY 2 – To Camp Muir -10,080′

The climbers woke up at 6 AM, had breakfast, and returned to the IMG HQ by 7:30 AM with their bags packed and bellies full. They were ready to start the climb! They set out from IMG around 8:30 AM and arrived at Paradise (5,400’ elevation) at 9:15 AM.  At Paradise, it was cold, snowing, and the wind was blowing. The group sauntered over to a breezeway by the ranger station and readied themselves by putting on their boots, hard shell jackets and pants to keep dry, and sunscreen (even with clouds there’s still a possibility of getting sunburned).

Photo courtesy Nate Lanting

At 10:00 AM, the group began the first part of the climb up to Camp Muir at 10,080’. After an hour of hiking, they paused to take a break. One of the fundraising climbers, Camiya, had to turn around due to exhaustion. She joined another IMG group that was going through snow school at lower elevations. The group pressed on, taking breaks as needed. Around 9,000’, they were above the clouds, and what a sight it was to see! The sun broke out and the top of Rainier stood before them in all her glory. The rest of the hike to Muir was beautiful. The views were incredible, and everyone took their time so they could enjoy the experience.

Photo courtesy Amelia Kaiser

They reached Camp Muir at 4 PM and settled into their own bunkhouse. An hour later, the IMG guides came and got them and took them on a short hike to IMG Weatherport, which included kitchen and seating. Massive burritos were served for dinner. Scott Brown and Chris Poulos ate not one, not two, but -three- full burritos. Hot cocoa and hot tea followed, and a discussion about next day ensued. The night ended around 7 PM when everyone returned to their bunkhouse. By 9 PM, all were sleeping and skies were clear.

Photo courtesy Amelia Kaiser

Photo courtesy Amelia Kaiser

DAY 3 – To Ingraham Flats Camp – 11,100′

Everyone arose at 7 am and packed their gear. It was cool outside, the skies were clear, and there were picturesque views of Mount Adams, Mount Hood, and Mount Saint Helens. A delectable and sizeable breakfast at IMG Weatherport consisting of chocolate chip pancakes, bacon, and French press coffee was consumed. The climbers reviewed the plan for the day: Snow school first from 9 AM- 12 PM and then a hike to “the flats” camp.

Snow school was educational. Each hour consisted of a different topic. First: using crampons, or “crampon-ing”. The climbers learned and practiced different waling techniques, such as the importance of good footwork. Second: using an ice ax and learning how to “self-arrest”. Everyone practiced self-arresting with their ice ax and feet (without crampons). A quick snack break came next, and the third hour started: Everyone put on avalanche beacons (a required practice from guided companies above Camp Muir), their crampons, and tied into the rope. Time was spent learning how to travel on the rope, and once everyone was comfortable, they headed up to “The Flats” camp. They hiked across the Cowlitz Glacier and then up through Cathedral Gap, taking time to enjoy the views of Little Tahoma. Fifteen minutes of hiking later and the group arrived at Ingraham Flats Camp.

It was beautiful up there. There were jaw-dropping views of Little Tahoma and the upper mountain. Ingraham Flats Camp was everyone’s favorite part of the trip and was an “epic” spot to camp.

Photo courtesy Nate Lanting

 

Photo courtesy Nate Lanting

Photo courtesy Nate Lanting

Everyone settled into their IMG tents, and around 5 PM, they gathered at the IMG kitchen tent for another delicious dinner: Macaroni and cheese, vegetables, and, of course, a healthy amount of hot sauce. There was talk of the mountain conditions and the climb beginning at 2 AM the next morning. That’s when the climbers received an update on their climb. Willie Webster and the other guides shared how “loaded” the mountain was with snow, unfortunately making it unsafe to travel to the summit. Two guides had observed and cut in a trail to 12,500, making it the new climbing goal for the Recovery Beyond fundraising climbers.

Were the climbers disappointed? Somewhat, but the weather was out of everyone’s control and they knew the chance for a summit bid would be very low because of it. Mount Rainier has a weather system all her own. Our fundraising climbers made the most of this trip, though. The point of the trip was not to summit, but to raise awareness and funds for addiction recovery. They learned as much as they could from their guides, laughed a whole lot, built relationships, and made incredible memories.

“The main goal that this climb embodied was to create a sober community, both through fundraising and living it on the trip. We connected, had fun and enjoyed the adventure, all while being sober. The summit was just a bonus” – Nate Lanting

DAY 4 – Summit & Back Home – 11,500′

Photo courtesy Nate Lanting.

At 2 AM, Willie woke everyone up. It had started snowing at 8 PM, about two hours after everyone had gone to sleep, and by that time, there was a new foot of snow on the ground. The group prepped their glacier gear, headed over to the kitchen tent for oatmeal and coffee, put on their glacier gear setup, and readied themselves to safely go as far as possible through the new snow. Helmet, headlamp, harness, goggles, hard shells, ice axe, crampons, heavy gloves – check, all on. They began their trek through the snowy, blizzard-like, dark night. After twenty minutes, Willie, the lead guide, called it. There was just too much new snow and it was unsafe. The team topped out at 11,500’ and then headed back to camp to sleep for a couple hours until first light.
When there was light, the climbers began their descent, first setting down the mountain back toward Camp Muir, arriving there at 7:30 AM. Visibility was low, the wind was blowing, and it was snowing. A warm breakfast of pancakes and coffee at Weatherport provided a nice break from the elements before heading back down to Paradise. There were whiteout conditions until 7,500’, but the guides were able to navigate well using GPS tracking.
Our fundraising climbers made it back down to Paradise at 12:15, feeling happy, thankful, and proud. By 1:15 PM, they had arrived back at IMG HQ, had a short debriefing, award ceremony, and an opportunity to share what the climb meant for everyone. All the fundraising climbers were thankful they were able to raise money to support addiction recovery. “Thank you’s” were shared with their guide, IMG, and with each other. A quick team photo and final goodbyes were met with “Let’s do this again!”

“It was a fun climb even without the summit.  We all knew we were physically ready but the weather had another plan for us.  The IMG experience was incredible.  They communicate well, train us properly while allowing adequate time for rest and certainly having hot, fresh meals available to us was a bonus.  The climb was great because normally most of us are volunteers on Recovery Beyond climbs/hikes and wear some type of leadership hat.  This climb we got to kind of “let our hair down” and climb as friends.  It was great.  I felt like there wasn’t a better group of people to share this experience with.  I also loved that we all had the common goal of fundraising for Recovery Beyond.  It’s always more fun to climb with a purpose.” – Becky Vinson

Photo courtesy Becky Vinson

While the climb is over, the fundraising continues. YOU can donate today to create healthy lifestyles for lasting recovery.

Successful recovery for an individual requires a community that supports healthy lifestyles. This is where Recovery Beyond comes in and provides a cost-effective solution to a growing concern in our communities, easing costs on our taxpayers. An 85% success rate shows that what we are doing is working. We have a solution, but we need your support. We need to take action today and reduce the high addiction rates and chances of relapse.

“There’s just something about the outdoors! I am approaching almost 7 years sober and it’s obvious the difference it makes to my state of mind when I get outside either on my own or with the group. Volunteering with Recovery Beyond is not only beneficial to the sobriety of those involved but incredibly important for my own recovery as well. With Recovery Beyond I’ve found a place to belong. With Recovery Beyond I’ve found a family. To be added to their Climb Team means so much. Not just about going up Rainier but getting to be a part of this program and supporting everything it stands for. Thank you for your support!!!” -Scott B., Fundraising Climber

Donate today – because every person with an addiction deserves to live a healthy lifestyle for lasting recovery.

  • The Mount Si Gift: $50 – This provides 1 program participant monthly mentorship
  • The Loowit Gift: $100 – This provides 1 recovery hiker, hiking gear, 6 recovery-based hikes in the northwest, and the leadership support to do so.
  • The Dakobed Gift: $250 – This provides 1 recovery climber that opportunity to go on a 3-day backpacking trip in the northwest, with a team of experts, recovery support, and all the equipment and wrap around support to do so.
  • The Kulshan Gift: $500 – This provides 1 recovery climber that opportunity to climb to the top of Mt. Baker with a team of experts, recovery support, and all the equipment and wrap around support to do so.
  • The Pahto/Klickitat Gift: $1,000 – Provides 5 months of recovery based mountaineering programming, including 6 training hikes, 2 educational seminars, and 2 mountaineering trips to one person in addiction recovery
  • The Tahoma Gift: $5,000 – One calendar year of outdoor recovery & therapy, through weekly fitness classes, monthly community hikes, mountaineering and backpacking expeditions, and recovery-based mentorship, for one person in addiction recovery

Check out individual fundraising pages to make your gifts.

DONATE NOW

Thank you for your help in creating healthy lifestyles for lasting recovery.

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