Rising 14,179 feet above the pine forests of Northern California, the snow-capped peak of Mount Shasta pierces the clouds and beckons climbers and mountaineers to its thin, crisp, alpine air. It’s one of 12 fourteeners in the state—the fifth highest among those peers—and requires a keen amount of technical skill, dedication and wherewithal to conquer.
It’s to this wilderness that, each year, a collective of passionate fundraisers ascend for the benefit of Breast Cancer Prevention Partners (BCPP), one of the nation’s leading non-profit organizations focused on breast cancer prevention and environmental health.
BCPP got its foundation in the early ‘90s to promote prevention efforts and increase public awareness of a disease that will directly affect an estimated one in eight women. Using core science(S'ouvre dans une nouvelle fenêtre) and education to increase our understanding of breast cancer, BCPP has published over 30 major studies, passed 15 bills at the local, state and federal level into law, helped increase the CDC Environmental Health budget by 300% and influenced multiple multinational corporations to adopt safer chemicals policies for the health of people and the environment including Campbells, CVS, Walmart, Target, J&J, and Unilever.
A significant amount of the money raised by BCPP is provided with the help of participants in the non-profit’s Climb Against the Odds(S'ouvre dans une nouvelle fenêtre) program, through which individuals and teams collect donations while training for and climbing Mount Shasta over a multi-day expedition each June. To date, this outdoor expedition has raised over six million dollars for breast cancer prevention.
“Our founder, Andrea Martin, said that we need to shout the message of breast cancer prevention from the mountain tops. And that’s exactly what we do.” - BCPP(S'ouvre dans une nouvelle fenêtre)
Since the first Climb Against the Odds at Mt. Shasta in 2003, over 500 climbers have participated in 16 expeditions, culminating in a total of 250,000 feet of ascension and $7 million raised. In 2021, 43 individuals split between two squads undertook the feat (the prior year’s expedition was postponed due to COVID-19), raising nearly $307,000 collectively.
These climbers, represented a diversity in experience and location, were selected from applications submitted the season prior (BCPP is currently accepting applications for the 2024 team(S'ouvre dans une nouvelle fenêtre)). Those chosen commit to months of training leading up to the three-day climb, all while raising a minimum of $6,000 for the cause.
Climbers that are accepted into the program are given the necessary training, tools and gear to successfully prepare for the climb and pay a $1,500 registration fee that includes meals, snow school and a fully guided climb to the summit.
In the months prior to the expedition, BCPP provides a training plan and online materials to help fundraisers prepare for the physical and aerobic challenge of summitting. On top of that, most of the necessary gear required to complete the climb is gifted to each participant, thanks to partnerships with organizations and companies like Osprey who proudly support the endeavor.
Taking the Challenge
In addition to providing packs to Climb Against the Odds, Osprey has had over 10 of its team members participate in the climb and raise funds for BCPP’s breast cancer prevention initiatives over the years.
In 2022, Erin Kuhlman participated in the endeavor and wrote an article reflecting on the experience(S'ouvre dans une nouvelle fenêtre).
“This climb was a team effort. I knew I was representing something greater than myself: representing my Osprey Team, my new Helen of Troy family, my donors and their experiences with breast cancers, and a more significant message that we can do better to reduce exposure to toxic chemicals.” - Erin Kuhlman, Osprey Team Member
As meaningful as the fundraising is for BCPP, the experience is a powerful one for the participants as well.
When another Osprey team member, Mary Jane Bauman, found out about Climb Against the Odds the year before, her life was relatively unaffected by breast cancer. Regardless, BCPP’s mission to prevent breast cancer called to her. The idea that we should be working to prevent the devastating disease before it even begins resonated.
Despite limited experience outdoors and having never hiked in snow before, let alone climbed a peak like Mount Shasta, Bauman felt that Climb Against the Odds would provide a great platform for her to raise funds and awareness for breast cancer prevention while joining a community of similarly driven people.
“The desire of my heart, the reason I signed up, was to help spread the word that we can fight to prevent [breast cancer],” Bauman explains.
She eagerly signed up to join the 2018 team.
With the help of friends, Bauman trained by hiking local 14ers and peaks in the San Juan Mountains of Southwest Colorado to get in shape and gain some experience using crampons and ice tools for mountaineering. She recruited the help of fellow Osprey teammate and experienced outdoorsman, Phil Henderson, for some of the more technical training.
While getting herself physically ready for the feat, Bauman also set her sights on raising funds. Tapping into her local network of coworkers, friends and family, she hosted a couple of cookouts at the Osprey headquarters and warehouse in Cortez where she sold authentic Navajo tacos and traditional Filipino food from her home country. Through this and other fundraising efforts, Bauman was able to raise over $8,000 for BCPP.
With her fundraising goal met, the only other summit for her to climb was Mount Shasta itself, which she reached in June alongside 13 other incredible fundraisers.
Speaking with her about the climb today, it’s apparent the event had a huge impact on her. Bauman described the climb as very difficult, but also very rewarding. From the experience, she came back with more than just a summit under her belt—she came back with a new kinship with the remarkable individuals with whom she climbed, several of which she keeps in regular contact.
She’s also been inspired by BCPP’s education model, which is vital to preventing breast cancer caused by environmental factors, among other things. She has since made connections with many people—both friends and family—who currently have or had the disease themselves, including her aunt in the Philippines. She wants to see similar advocacy for prevention and education oversees.
“In my country, there’s no organization like this yet to provide education for women that this disease can be prevented,” Bauman said.
Her hope is that, by getting the word out about Climb Against the Odds, BCPP and her experience, she can help spur some future initiatives and awareness.
Support BCPP and Climb Against the Odds
If you’d like to help support BCPP and the efforts of Climb Against the Odds in their fight against breast cancer, you can learn about ways to donate(S'ouvre dans une nouvelle fenêtre) through their website. There, you can also learn more about joining an upcoming crew of fundraisers helping fund scientific studies, legislation and education in the name of prevention while partaking in the incredible climb up Mount Shasta. Contact BCPP here to learn more(S'ouvre dans une nouvelle fenêtre).
Besides donating to BCPP and Climb Against the Odds to help fund studies, legislation and education for the prevention of breast cancer, we reached out to BCPP for some tips and recommendations for how we all can take action this Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
What You Can Do for Breast Cancer Awareness Month
Provided courtesy of BCPP
This year, about 281,550 new cases of invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed in American women. If you’re wondering how you can support BCPP and its initiatives this Breast Cancer Awareness Month, please consider the following:
- Take to the trails and help save our bodies (and the environment) from toxic chemicals linked to this devastating disease. Get active for breast cancer prevention and join the national Peak Hike for Prevention movement. Learn more and get your tickets today(S'ouvre dans une nouvelle fenêtre).
- Read Paths to Prevention(S'ouvre dans une nouvelle fenêtre) and consider changes you can make to lower our own risk and ways you can advocate for change in your community to protect those around you.
- Visit BCPP’s Take Action page(S'ouvre dans une nouvelle fenêtre) and join in, supporting legislative changes that reduce breast cancer risk and grow the movement for safer beauty, food, and homecare products. Sign up(S'ouvre dans une nouvelle fenêtre) for BCPP’s emails to learn about future actions and BCPP campaigns.
- Refer a friend! Urge your loved ones to check out our work and get involved too!
- Download shopping tools, such as Clearya, that empower you to make conscious decisions as a consumer to avoid toxic, carcinogenic products.
- Consider donating(S'ouvre dans une nouvelle fenêtre) to support BCPP’s work to identify and eliminate environmental causes of breast cancer.
Besides directly supporting BCPP and the programs, tools and initiatives it provides, here are some additional tips on how you can make everyday changes to help prevent breast cancer in your own life:
- Use environmentally-friendly, non-toxic cleaning products. You can choose a transparent cleaning brand like our partners at Seventh Generation or make your own products! Lemon juice has antibacterial qualities and is a tough stain fighter for countertops. Or you can maintain a sparkling clean house by using a mixture of baking soda and vinegar rather than harmful bleach.
- Eat fruits, veggies and locally sourced foods. It’s not only good for your heath, but it helps reduce emissions and waste. Buy local food to reduce the distance from farm to fork, frequent your local farmers’ market, or join a local food co-op. Buy organic food to keep your body and the environment free of toxic pesticides by supporting farmers and companies who use organic ingredients.
- Find a way to get outside. Plant a tree, join a local park or beach clean-up, or volunteer for a local environmental group. You can even plant your own organic garden: choose native plants, reduce chemical use and try using coffee grounds and dried, crushed up eggshells to make some great fertilizer.
- Reduce your carbon footprint. Carpool, walk, bike, or take public transit any of the days you can. Remember to recycle paper, plastic and glass. Compost on your own or through a local program. Also, turn off lights you’re not using and when you leave the room, and replace inefficient incandescent light bulbs with efficient CFLs or LEDs.
- Skip the print, go online. Change your paper bills to online billing. You’ll save trees and the fuel it takes to deliver your bills by truck. Plus, store receipts, gas pump receipts, and airline boarding passes are coated in BPA or BPA-like chemicals and touching them can result in toxic chemical exposure.
- Stop using disposable plastics, especially single-use plastics like bottles, bags and straws. In addition to being bad for our planet, plastics can leach harmful chemicals like BPA and phthalates into your food and beverages. Use glass, ceramic, cloth (like beeswax-infused organic cotton), and stainless-steel food storage containers and reusable BPA-free water bottles.
- Reduce your water usage and eat less meat. When it comes to water saving tips, install a low-flow shower head, never use your toilet as a wastebasket, and water your lawn or garden early in the morning or late in evening. You can also eat less meat! It takes an enormous amount of water to produce products like meat and dairy, since the animals eat large amounts of water-intensive feed (corn and soybeans). Wash your veggies and fruits in a large bowl or tub of water and scrub them with a vegetable brush instead of using your faucet as a power-washer.
Statistics updated on 9/19/2023 to reflect accurate data.