A story of Climbing For Change by Guest Contributor Landon Faulkner
The crunch of the snow was muted by the ripping wind that bit at our faces. The final push to the summit of Brokeoff Mountain seemed overly laborious due to the wind and snow that seemed to encircle us with each step. I stopped to catch my breath and check our altitude, "400 vertical feet to the summit" I yelled to Andrew who was about 30 feet behind me. He gave me a thumbs up letting me know the message had not gotten lost in the wind. Looking around me everything was white; Lassen Volcanic National Park was living up to the winter wonderland that I had read about.
We continued on and then just a hundred or so vertical feet from the summit the snow stopped and the sky opened up like Moses parting the Red Sea. Blue sky and a warm December sun revealed the summit and a glorious view of a sea of clouds below us and Mount Lassen, a still active volcano, peaking through the low lying clouds on the other end of the park. Taking in the unreal splendor it felt like 9,236 feet might as well have been the summit of Mount Everest. Climbing Mount Brokeoff in late December of 2013 had made an impression on me that I would not soon forgot, a memory of amazing beauty that would be etched in my mind like an ancient hieroglyphs and an unquenchable desire to do it again, only better.
Over the following year my mind worked over the trip and my goal to return to climb Brokeoff again while upping the ante. All of my planning and scheming brought me to one conclusion; my cousin and climbing partner, Andrew, and I would climb Brokeoff again, but with the addition of a second peak, an active volcano, Lassen Peak, all to be climbed in two days. The trip would require over 30 miles of travel during winter in a park that sees an average snowfall of over 40 feet per winter. It would be a grueling trek on snowshoes carrying full packs in the heart of winter and it would be the perfect way to “up the ante.”
However, as our plans evolved into climbing two peaks in two days so too did the goals associated with the climb. Since our initial winter summit of Brokeoff Mountain Andrew and I have not only decided on the goal of summiting both peaks, but doing so to raise $5,000 for a non-profit organization that provides outdoor adventure programs for under-served and “at-risk” teens through our “Climb for Change: Two Peaks, Two Days, Two Beards” campaign.
Our campaign began with an idea to use our climb as a platform to help others. Andrew and I spent a number of month researching different organizations. We were driven to pick an organization that worked with teens in an outdoor setting. I have felt inspired and spiritually uplifting in the outdoors and wanted to be a part of allowing that same spiritually edifying catharsis to take place in other individuals lives. After looking at a number of different non-profits we found Peak 7 Adventures who provides the exact services we were looking for in an organization. We liked what we saw from our research and after I spoke to a Peak 7 representative over the phone I knew we had made the right choice.
We then partnered with Peak 7 Adventures who serve the youth of the Pacific Northwest region. They provide adventure trips like whitewater rafting, rock climbing or alpine climbing at an extremely low cost for teens that would likely never have a similar opportunity in their lifetime. Our goal is not only to successfully summit both peaks, but also raise $5,000 for Peak 7 Adventures. Every donation made goes directly to Peak 7, and every donation makes a huge difference in their ability to reach and support more teens.
We will embark on our backcountry trek and climb on February 21 and summit Brokeoff the first day followed by Lassen Peak on the 22. We look forward to being in Lassen Park once again and experiencing the amazing beauty that the park quietly holds. We hope to safely reach our goal of summiting both peaks while also successfully reaching our fundraising goal.
This Climb for Change has been an amazing experience. It has been time consuming and difficult work (and we still have to climb!), but extremely rewarding work. While this Climb for Change: Two Peaks, Two Days, Two Beards campaign may be the only episode of it's kind I am excited about other plans I have to reach out and help my community in other ways.
If you would like to support getting under-served youth outdoors please visit www.active.com/donate/climb4change and make a donation of support. For more information about the event visit www.landonfaulkner.com or www.peak7.org.
Landon Faulkner is an outdoor enthusiast and blogger. He grew up in Northern California but attended college at the University of Utah were he studied psychology and spent every spare minute in the Wasatch mountains running, hiking and snowshoeing. In Salt Lake City he met his wife, Kyra, and the two now reside in Northern California with their one year old daughter, Paityn. Landon works as a social worker for a foster family agency and spends his free time exploring the outdoors, mountaineering, trail running and writing. He enjoys reading non-fiction tales of survival and the outdoors, watching comedic television with his wife and listening to folk music.