Ballard residents climb to fight breast cancer
Ballard newly-weds Lauren Kisser and Barry Fuchs plan to climb the 10,781 foot elevation of Mount Baker this summer in honor of Kisser’s late grandmother Ellen.
A year and a half ago, Kisser and Fuchs, both members of the Mountaineers, received a Mountaineers newsletter with an ad for the Climb to Fight Breast Cancer.
“It’s funny we both got our own copies so we both were looking at it and I immediately looked at Lauren and said, ‘You gotta do this,’” Fuchs said. “Her family has had a history of breast cancer and she had an interest in climbing Mount Rainier."
Thus created Team Ellen.
Kisser had climbed Mount Rainier’s 14,411-foot elevation last year.
“I was training for Rainier and was going through the preparation and was wanting to do it for the cause,” Kisser said. “(...) My family has a strong history of breast cancer, my mom, my aunt and my grandmother. So eventually it was fate that we’d be doing this."
Climb to Fight Breast Cancer is a summer event for outdoor enthusiasts to join together in honor or memory of loved ones who have battled breast cancer. This year Washington gives these climbers the opportunity to ascend mounts Baker, Rainier and Adams.
This year Kisser is on the board for Climb to Fight Breast Cancer and said she’s very happy that she gets to climb Mount Baker this July with Barry by her side after all the support he had given her last year. She said both have given her an even stronger level of commitment.
“I feel good about it,” Fuchs said. “We both have done the Mountaineers climbing class so we’ve both been trained in mountaineering. This is a guided climb and you don’t need the training to do it but it’s helpful to have that knowledge.”
Training with climbs up Tiger Mountain in Issaquah, Mount St, Helens in April and slowly increasing the weight in their packs during each climb, Kisser said they’ve been preparing as best they can for this year's climb.
“Last year was a lot of work in terms of training,” she said. “It was really being diligent every week to do climbs and progressively adding more weight, we’re sort of doing the same training program for Mount Baker.”
Kisser said last year’s climb up Mount Rainier was a lot of work but it was the support she had gotten from donors that pushed her to reach the peak when she felt she didn’t have any energy left to go on.
“It was like having all these people behind me rooting me on," she said.
Unfortunately, on the second night of the hike Kisser unexpectedly got ill from altitude sickness and became overwhelmed with emotion because she felt like she couldn't go on. But she said she knew people were counting on her.
“So I told myself to do it,” Kisser said.
Kisser was the youngest climber out of the four who reached the top.
Fuchs said this year's climb will be the biggest he's ever attempted but is not worried since the climb will be over a period of three days.
From July 30 to August 1, Kisser and Fuchs will join other climbers for snow skill classes in preparation for the Mount Baker climb.
“Those who haven’t had mountaineering experience will do a snow skills class like how to travel in the glacier and stuff like that,” Fuchs said. “It will be a good refresher for me since it’s been a year since I’ve had any of that experience and almost a year for Lauren, it would be good for us to do that.”
The climb requires participants to raise about $3,000 or more per climber and so far Kisser and Fuchs have almost reached their goal with a combined $4,100.
“What helped was seeing the ad and planting the seed and going back a year later,”Kisser said. “It’s funny because the fundraising and training for the climbing are parallel to each other. Both are these really daunting tasks but you just start chipping away at it and you’re at the top of your climb.”