Ridge Report: Climbing Mt. Shasta with Breast Cancer Prevention Partners

Ridge Report: Climbing Mt. Shasta with Breast Cancer Prevention Partners
Post written by Ridge team member Paz Mendelevitch who recently participated in BCPP’s Climb Against the Odds.

As someone deeply embedded in the world of outdoor adventures and passionate about making a positive impact, I recently had the privilege of participating in an incredible experience that combined both of these aspects. Climbing Mt. Shasta with Breast Cancer Prevention Partners (BCPP) was more than just a challenging ascent; it was a powerful testament to the strength and resilience of women fighting breast cancer and a heartwarming display of solidarity and support within the outdoor community.

 Our welcome dinner had quite the view.

I’ve now climbed Mt. Shasta six times, but this trip with BCPP was by far the most memorable (and my first time hiking instead of splitboarding). Sharing stories at the welcome dinner, finding friends in common from college with some climbers, small world! Then we ended the first day with a dip in Lake Siskiyou, all making for an epic start to this trip. I got back to my chalet, packed my backpacking pack and went to bed thinking about the adventure ahead.


Day 1 of the Climb: Base Camp

After a hearty breakfast and short drive to Bunny Flats parking area, we set off into our rope teams – smaller groups that we would eventually be camping and climbing with. Gear and food checks were complete and we set off on our multi-day adventure up Mt. Shasta.

 My climbing team/new lifelong friends.

It was a long slog to get to base camp in the heat of the day, but we did come upon a natural spring coming out of the hill which was super cool to fill our water bottles with.

 The natural spring coming out of the side of the hill near Horse Camp was really cool!

We settled into camp and got comfortable for a bit before a snow tools clinic.

Lounging at 10,000 feet with a hand-built island kitchen, thanks to our awesome Shasta Mountain Guides.

It was a blast to refresh my ice axe and self arresting skills. We enjoyed dinner with a view in our makeshift snow kitchen and got to bed early so we could get some sleep before the 1am wake up. 

Day 2 of the Climb: Summit

After scarfing down some oatmeal and coffee followed by a quick wag, we started our ascent at 2am. Learn more about WAG bags and leave no trace principles — if you've never tried to use a wag bag at 2am at 10,000 feet, it's a real test of skill.

The view at 2am did not disappoint.

As we ascended Mt. Shasta and the sun began to rise, every step felt symbolic. The mountain represented the challenges faced by those battling breast cancer, and reaching their personal summit was a victory against the odds.

Roped up and with all of the sharp tools (crampons and our ice axes).

The climb was tough for some, with moments of physical exhaustion and emotional highs and lows, but it was a journey worth every ounce of effort. Some climbers reached their personal summit, and Shasta Mountain Guides had brought up extra guides to help bring people back down to camp so others could continue up. 

Just before the final pitch we crossed Misery Hill, a football-field-long stretch of hiking with the summit in view, such a tease!

 Misery Hill - the hype was real, it was miserable... but our excitement and adrenaline was running on all cylinders so we kept on moving!

 We made it - 14,162 feet!

Day 3 of the Climb: Back To Bunny Flats

After a leisurely morning packing, we descended and glissaded down, cutting our hiking time in half. As we got down to the Bunny Flats parking area we were met by the BCPP crew staff, alumni and families of climbers. Tears and beers were both flowing and everyone was so excited about what we just accomplished: raising $192,000+ for BCPP and climbing Mt. Shasta.

My Ridge kit for this trip was minimal thanks to Merino wool's benefits. I wore my trusty Solstice Sun Hoodie the entire three days - either as a layer on its own or as a base layer underneath my Convict Canyon Hoodie for our 2am start on summit day. I also brought my Aspect Balaclava Hood and Aspect Bottom for sleeping. Two boxers (one for a post-summit change) and one pair of Minaret hiking socks did the trick for the three days spent on Mt. Shasta.

One of the most rewarding aspects of the climb was the incredible camaraderie that developed among everyone, I now have quite a few more lifelong friends. Climbing Mt. Shasta is no small feat, and doing it alongside women who have battled breast cancer — including survivors and people currently undergoing chemotherapy — was profoundly inspiring. Each step we took was filled with stories of resilience, shared experiences and a deep sense of mutual support.

Reaching the summit was a moment of triumph for all of us. We stood together at the top, looking out over the breathtaking landscape, knowing that we had achieved something remarkable. It was a reminder that with support, determination, and a strong sense of community, we can overcome even the most daunting challenges.

Want to read more about this year's climb? Check out BCPP's Climb Against the Odds blog.

Words: Paz Mendelevitch
Photos: Danny Kern


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