By Mary O’KEEFE
Some couples go on long walks together, some have a nice dinner, but climbing a mountain together – that might be a little extreme.
Extreme or not, Dr. John Rodarte and his wife Norma are planning to climb a mountain in June. But the reason behind the climb is all too common –fighting against cancer.
Rodarte is an avid climber and on several occasions has climbed as part of his fundraising efforts for cancer research. This June, the goal will be reaching the top of Mt. Hood with a summit of 11,239 feet. The climb team is raising money to support the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center Climb to Fight Breast Cancer.
“This is her first time climbing,” said Rodarte of his wife’s upcoming adventure.
The reason for participating is personal for the Rodartes.
“My wife had a family member who had breast cancer,” he said.
As a doctor, Rodarte has seen what cancer can do to a family and understands the importance of research.
“Last October we were able to go to the Fred Hutchinson [research center] and see first hand what the money goes to, seeing the actual studies,” he said.
The climb in June will begin about midnight and will take about five or six hours to summit, then another five hours to return to base camp, much of it in snow, said Rodarte. He and his wife have been hiking in snow so she can get used to walking/climbing in crampons, traction devices that attach to boots allowing for safer snow travel.
The climb is not expected to overtax Rodarte, though; he is a member of the Montrose Search and Rescue team.
“[MSR] is what got me doing [mountain climbing],” he said. “The training has been invaluable.” He added the team’s constant training in both snow and ice, as well as climbing help him not only with being physically fit and knowing what to do in case of an emergency, but also knowing the proper equipment to use when climbing.
Rodarte is excited about sharing the experience with his wife. He and Norma often hike with their two sons. He is hoping that once the boys get older, mountain climbing will be a family affair.
“Climbing … there is something about it. There is a peace that comes over me when I am in the mountains,” he said. “That would be a great family climb.”
The couple is continuing to raise money for the research center. Their team is under Montrose Search and Rescue. To donate, visit www.fhcrc.org/climb and go to the Montrose Search and Rescue team.