Climb it 4 Climate began in 2016. At the time, I was planning an unsupported attempt to thru hike the 46 highest peaks in the Adirondack Park. So, I proposed to use the thru hike as a fundraising opportunity for a back to the earth/Homestead program I was beginning at Paul Smith’s College.
- Mountain ultra hikes grab attention. Lots of people want to know why and how you’re going to complete 200 miles and 96,000 feet of elevation gain in 8 days.
- The two initiatives paired nicely because there was a common theme of human energy and resiliency.
I set off on August 6, 2016. My pace was strong. My mind and body were sharp. On the fifth day, I was more than halfway through the hike and the temperature soared to 95 degrees. I received outside information that the next few days were going to set record highs and produce violent storms. A red flag went up. I didn’t want to be a back country rescue story. So, I called it quits. It was a hard decision to make and I sat at the trail juncture, cradled between Haystack and Basin for a good thirty minutes, pushing away the tears and emotion before I made my descent.
After the hike, it was hard for me to see the success of the campaign because I hadn’t completed the thru-hike and it has remained a personal “Everest” ever since. We raised $15,000 for our Homestead program and $15,000 for student scholarships. We crafted and shared a powerful message about our changing world and that communities can accomplish more positive change if they work together.
Our 2018-2019 campaign is focused on two summits: Kilimanjaro and Aconcagua. Our objectives are to collect climate stories from mountain communities and to raise scholarship money for Paul Smith’s College students. You can follow along at: https://www.paulsmiths.edu/climb-it-4-climate/