One of my favorite beneficiaries is an outfit called Big City Mountaineers, which takes inner-city kids who have done well in school to places like Yosemite or Wyoming, where they can hike or fish for the first time in their lives. Most inner-city youths have never been in anything like a wilderness, never paddled a canoe or camped in the woods. If only one out of ten kids is affected enough by that experience to change his or her life, it’s well worth it.
~Ed Viesturs, Mountaineer (From his National Bestseller, No Shortcuts to the Top)
Big City Mountaineers (www.bigcitymountaineers.org) is a Colorado-based charity that transforms the lives of under-resourced youth from cities like Denver and San Francisco through outdoor and wilderness mentoring programs, teaching them valuable life skills and broadening their horizons. By improving kids integrity, self-esteem, responsibility, decision-making abilities and communication skills, BCM has been able to increase kid’s likeliness to stay in school as well as decreased violence and drug use.
The core Big City Mountaineers program is a week-long wilderness mentoring expedition where urban youth are given the opportunity to experience the beauty and challenges of the wilderness alongside supportive adult mentors. What had begun as a simple backpacking trip with an urban, at-risk teen 20 years ago has now evolved into a documented and well-tested progression of experiences coupled with opportunities for reflection and learning.
“I’ve never experienced anything like that, and it opened my eyes to a lot. It allowed me to truly appreciate nature and all the beauty that surrounds me.”
BCM raises the vast majority of it’s donations through its annual Summit For Someone (www.summitforsomeone.org) fundraiser. Climbers raise a pledged amount (exact amount depending on the chosen peak) and are rewarded with a guided climb of that peak. Now in its 9th year, SFS is the #1 mountaineering fundraiser in the country featuring climbs of 14 of the world’s premier mountains. Funds raised by SFS climbers directly affect the number of lives BCM is able to change each year.
At 14,410 feet, Mount Rainier is the most extensively glaciated volcanic peak in the continental United States. Home to Rainier Mountaineering Incorporated, one of the most respected guiding services on earth (and guiding all throughout the world!), Rainier is widely considered to be the premier mountaineering/glacier travel peak in the lower 48. Because of that, when combined with an RMI guide service, it has become a perfect first step towards larger and higher mountaineering objectives.