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Team of Women and Men Touched by Breast Cancer Climb Mt. Shasta to Prevent the Disease

CONTACT: Shannon Coughlin, 415-336-2246;

The Breast Cancer Fund's twelfth Climb Against the Odds team, made up of 34 breast cancer survivors and individuals touched by the disease, successfully completed its June 21 expedition of Northern California's 14,179-foot Mount Shasta. To date, the event has raised $568,000 to support the Breast Cancer Fund’s work to identify and eliminate the environmental causes of the disease.

The 2011 Climb Against the Odds team hailed from 13 states—California, Colorado, Connecticut, Montana, Washington, Texas, Indiana, Vermont, New Hampshire, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia and North Carolina—and the District of Columbia. Participants trained in regional teams since January, and came together from June 19 to 25 at the foot of Mt. Shasta, the second-highest peak in the Cascade Range.

The summit attempt began on June 21 hours before sunrise when the whole team departed Hidden Valley base camp (9,400 feet), making their way across the snow with their headlamps and by the light of the moon and stars. They left in small rope teams at staggered intervals and headed across the first snow field on the approach to the west face under moonlight. There was a blanket of fog covering the peak of the mountain in the early morning, somewhat limiting visibility at the crest of the west face, and winds of about 20 to 25 miles per hour further challenged the climbers. But the fog burned off by the time the teams made it to the aptly named Misery Hill. Ultimately, 22 of the 34 climbers made it to the summit; all returned to base camp tired but in good spirits.

Each team member had very personal motivations to climb—often to honor their own or loved one's experience with cancer; and all climbers shared a commitment to breast cancer prevention. One in 8 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer, and only half of these cases can be tied to traditional risk factors like genetic inheritance, diet and reproductive history. More and more scientific evidence is linking breast cancer to the chemicals in our everyday environment. More than 80,000 synthetic chemicals are registered for use in the United States, and fewer than 10 percent have been fully tested for their health effects. The Breast Cancer Fund is the only national breast cancer organization focused solely on breast cancer prevention through working to identify and eliminate the environmental causes.

"The Breast Cancer Fund embraces mountain climbing as a metaphor for the critical work we are doing to prevent the environmental causes of this devastating disease," said Jeanne Rizzo, R.N., president and CEO of the Breast Cancer Fund. "We apply our courage and faith that anything is possible, if taken one step at a time. And we do it all as part of a team, knowing that there is more that we can achieve together than apart."

This climb followed in the tradition of the Breast Cancer Fund's past expeditions: Mt. Aconcagua, Argentina (1995); Mt. McKinley, Alaska (1998); Mt Fuji, Japan (2000); Mt. Rainier, Wash. (2005); and Mt. Shasta, Calif. (2003, 2004, 2006-2010).

Note to reporters: Climbers are available for interviews. High-resolution images from the climb are available.


The Breast Cancer Fund is the leading national organization working to identify and eliminate the environmental and other preventable causes of breast cancer.