For Puyallup tribal member Ryan Tuttle, the idea of scaling Mount Rainier was a bit intimidating to say the least. But after learning of the Climb to Fight Breast Cancer fundraiser that has outdoor enthusiasts climbing some of the most storied peaks in the world – all in the name of cancer research – he knew he had to consider it.
"I was a little nervous," he admitted. "But after training for a few months, I felt like I was ready."
After losing his sister-in-law and grandmother to cancer, the idea of climbing to fight a disease that touches so many people meant a great deal to Ryan and his family.
Climbers have a goal to raise at least $5,000 – last year Ryan raised just over $10,000. "This climb has so many challenges wrapped into one event," he said. "There is the challenge of raising the money, the challenge of getting yourself physically ready, and the challenge of climbing a mountain. But it's all very attainable. And getting to the top of that mountain is like no other feeling in the world."
Last year, Ryan's climb consisted of four guides and eight climbers. The team spent part of the first day climbing to base camp, where huts were already prepared for the climbers. The first part of day two consisted of training on the mountain, learning how to use ice axes, crampons and more. "We did not climb very far on the second day, but we were able to hang out, have a wonderful dinner before the guides told us to go to sleep at about 5 p.m.," he laughed.
The team woke up at about 11 p.m., fueled up with some breakfast, and scaled the rest of the mountain in time to reach the top at dusk to enjoy the sunrise.
"Then, you look at each other and realize you have to climb all the way back down," he said. "It takes a little bit of training to be able to climb, but the wealth of knowledge and support these guides have is amazing."
Last year's climb made such an impact on Ryan that he joined the committee to help organize this year's event. He and brothers Thomas and Spencer Burnstead are gearing up to scale Mount Baker this year to raise even more money.
"Fred Hutchinson is an institution I totally believe in, and they're right in our backyard, curing and changing lives," he added. "To be a part of that in any way is amazing."
To learn more about participating in the Climb to Fight Breast Cancer, visit getinvolved.fhcrc.org/site/TR. You can also make a donation to Ryan's team by searching for "The Baker 10."