“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.
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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…