In 2016 after summiting Aconcagua, the highest summit in South America, I decided to climb Mt Denali, the highest summit in North America. Not only did I want to climb Denali for its height but also to experience the beauty of the Alaskan Range and the challenge of facing the extreme weather the mountain is notorious for.
Based on my lack of knowledge about Denali and the specific skillsets involved in climbing it I used the Guide service Alpine Ascents International (AAI). During my expedition I met some amazing people and learned a lot about Denali, its weather patterns, terrain, and everything it takes for such a expedition. Unfortunately, being faced with days upon days of bad weather, our team was unsuccessful in getting the opportunity for a summit bid. It was not hard for me to decide to return again.
This was the first year that I began the campaign Climb Against Cancer. In 2016 I discovered Cancer Support Community Redondo Beach when my fiancé at the time was diagnosed with cancer. Scared, looking for support and answers, we found both at the Community. I decided that climbing for myself only satisfied me so much. Mountaineering can be a selfish endeavor but I believe like so many others do that it does not have to be. As grateful as I was to the center, and seeing first hand how it helps so many affected my cancer, I found it my mission to give back.
I never looked at not making the summit as a failure but as an opportunity to return. It was painful not having the chance to go for the summit after the months of training and the time and money invested in it. I felt robbed by the mountain’s extreme weather yet at the same time it is something you must respect. Success is defined as being able to keep trying more times than you fail. It is a hard lesson to learn when climbing mountains, but a valuable one.