2011 Climb Team

  • 2011 Climb Team

    Scott Sowle

    2011 & 2016 Seattle’s Union Gospel Mission Graduate. 2011 Mt. Hood Summit.

    Scott was ready to end it all by throwing himself off of Seattle’s Magnolia Bridge. But something stopped him. When he made his way to Seattle’s Union Gospel Mission, he was desperate for any kind of change.

    Abandoned with his grandparents at age four, Scott grew up a natural athlete. He sought the adrenaline and escape brought by extreme outdoor sports – and drugs and alcohol.  By his 40s, his life had spiraled out of control into homelessness.

    His time at the Mission and on the mountain put a firm foundation under his feet – finalizing his commitment to sobriety and the depth of his healing. Scott now interns full time in Seattle and helps lead Team Mission, a program connecting community runners with individuals in recovery regaining their fitness.

    “Being on the very first team gave me an opportunity to maybe have a dream become a reality – to climb Rainier.

    “It brought together a team of men striving for a new life. It taught me that without others, life isn’t accomplished. Having been on Hepatitis C treatment during training and the attempt, I learned to work through struggles. Then the real struggle began during the climb.

    “My treatments made me sick and on the way to Camp Muir I became sick. It was decided that I should not continue on. This is where the struggle really began. I felt like a failure again. That was a fear.

    “It wasn’t until 2 days after the return from the summit did I really overcome a struggle in life. I understood that I was loved and worthy – that it’s not about doing what we want to do – but listening and accepting where He has us in life is ok. I’m accepted for who I am today.

    “I’ve since been to the summit of Rainier and many other Pacific Northwest glaciers. These summits still teach me more about life, but that first attempt taught me that if we don’t succeed, to put that to good use when attempting another summit in life. “

    Read more of Scott’s story featured in local media!

    Climbing out of homelessness: Five men conquer drugs and Mount Rainier – Tuesday, August 23, 2011 – By Judy Lightfoot / Crosscut.com

  • 2011 Climb Team

    Christian Downs

    How it all began…

    It all started with trying to fit in with a crowd that I “thought” were “friends”. I was raised better, I knew better, I can’t believe I ever used drugs; it went from cocaine, to crack, to pain pills, to heroin. With each change it got worse, until the people that were always around me were gone. I was making good money and stayed employed while addicted to opiates; but the double lifestyle could only be hid and functional for so long. I found myself alone and enslaved to the next session of getting high. I was using non-stop just to maintain, feel normal, and not be sick. It was just a matter of time before I would end up homeless, in prison, or dead.

    Luckily, it didn’t get that far, I was never homeless. A work intervention sent me to a program (28-day) that I completed to appease others and keep my job, but I wasn’t ready to get clean. After losing my job and getting desperate, I entered the Climbing Out of Homelessness (COH) program and the UGM recovery program together. It was a big part of my success. I have been clean off of all drugs for 5 years now.

    It gave me something positive to look forward to. It gave me people that were there for me in good times and difficult ones. I finally had real friends that were doing positive things and not just getting high. It helped me turn into a person that does the right thing for the right reasons, and not just when someone is looking or for recognition. It helped me to put others ahead of myself and to trust people. I then also became worthy of being trusted. Most of all, it motivated me to get outdoors and see more of the beauty of God’s creation with healthy community. I believe the COH program will help others, like it helped me to find the life I was meant to live.

    I still love to hike, and do so often with climb team alumni as well as my wife Kari of two years. My climbing experience helps me often relate to people from many backgrounds while working with Alpha USA as the Regional Director of Washington State. I will continue to Climb trails, but more importantly the mountains of life. Thanks COH.

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