By Mary O’KEEFE
This weekend three members of the Montrose Search and Rescue team will be climbing a mountain to bring awareness to and support for the fight against breast cancer.
Mike Leum, Cindy England and Robert Sheedy will be climbing Oregon’s Mt. Hood for the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center’s “Climb to Fight Breast Cancer.” Another MSR member, John Rodarte, will be climbing Mt. Baker later this year.
“We have been training to get ready for this climb,” Leum said.
This is not the first climb for Sheedy, Rodarte and Leum; however, it is for England. Other members of MSR have climbed before for the Center but this is the first time they will be climbing in the official capacity of the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Dept.’s Montrose Search and Rescue.
“Robert, John and I climbed [Mt. Hood in the past] and got turned around because of avalanche danger,” said Leum. “Then another [former] member of the team and I tried climbing again and [found ourselves] in a white out.”
Mt. Hood is at an elevation of 11,000 feet and therefore it has snow year round.
“We will be in full snow gear with ice axes and crampons,” Leum said. “The weather is always questionable.”
Snowy conditions aren’t new for the team. It trains for ice rescues, which includes climbing icy cliffs.
“We all maintain a high level of physical fitness,” Leum said.
The training helps them to prepare for whatever Mother Nature throws at them and, as Leum said, each time they climb they come back with a weather story.
The focus of the climb is to raise cancer awareness and research dollars. The Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center opened its doors in 1975. Dr. E. Donnall Thomas devoted decades at the Center developing a treatment for leukemia and other blood cancers. Thomas received the 1990 Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine for his pioneering research, establishing a legacy of innovation and excellence that all Center researchers strive to follow, according to the center’s website.
The MSR team will be raising money for ongoing support of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center but will also be bringing along several names of “cancer warriors” to the summit.
“Robert and I are putting the names of cancer survivors and what I call cancer warriors on Tibetan prayer flags,” Leum said. Those flags will be carried as they climb then placed on Mt. Hood when they summit.
The team is continuing to raise funds for breast cancer awareness. Anyone who would like to donate can do so by going to Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center’s “Climb to Fight Breast Cancer” at http://www.fhcrc.org/climb.