How I climbed a mountain without making it entirely about myself

A little over a year ago, I headed to Mexico with a group of women who are, in one way or another, associated with Big City Mountaineers. I’ve written a fair amount about BCM before, since I’ve worked as an instructor and as a volunteer, but basically: BCM is a nonprofit that teaches critical life skills to under-resourced kids during the course of weeklong wilderness backpacking and canoe trips. One of their primary fundraising tools is a program called Summit For Someone, in which participants do cool stuff like climb mountains or embark on their own wilderness trips while fundraising for BCM.

A few months before the climb, I met my friend Elizabeth Williams (BCM’s Director of Programs) for a beer. She mentioned her plans to do a Summit For Someone climb of 18,491-foot Citlaltépetl (also known as Pico de Orizaba), and before I could stop my own word-vomit, I was telling her I couldn’t wait to quit my job and maybe this was exactly the excuse I’d been looking for.

“You should come!” she told me, “It’ll be fun!” Then the wheels started turning. Soon, we’d added Jessica Hamel, who does BCM’s social media, and Georgina Miranda, entrepreneur and BCM board member, to the roster.

In early March, we packed our bags and headed to Mexico City, where we drove several hours to a climbers’ hostel in a small village called Tlachichuca. The hostel, Servimont, is a century-old converted soap factory, and it’s where our guides, Ryan Waters and Dave Elmore of Mountain Professionals (who generously donated their time to BCM), have been bringing their clients for years.

Next, we took a nausea-inducing 4WD ride to base camp, a rudimentary hut just below 14,000 feet above sea level. We hiked to acclimatize, set up a high camp, and then, on March 10, made a successful summit bid. Talented filmmaker Josh Vertucci documented the climb, and now there’s a film about it.

Yes, I’m proud of having done the climb, but I’m more excited about the impact on BCM’s programming, which is life-changing for the kiddos it serves. Huge thanks to our sponsors, Deuter, Nemo, and La Sportiva.

Learn more about how you can Summit For Someone.


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