For those of you who have never heard of us, we are brand-new nonprofit, but we’ve been climbing mountains since 2013, and have raised over $100,000 for charity: Mount Baldy, CA (2013), Mount San Jacinto, CA (2014), Mount Whitney, CA (2015), Half Dome, Yosemite NP (2016), Buckskin Gulch, UT (2017), Mount Saint Helens, WA (2018), and in 2019, Mineral King, Sequoia NP.
In 2018 we incorporated as a public benefit corporation and officially became al 501(c)3 nonprofit in 2019.
This year, we picked Camp Brave Trails as the financial beneficiary of our fundraising. CBT provides educational services and an inclusive environment for LGBTQ+ teens to flourish. It was with this thought in mind that we climbed over 6,000 feet on weekend of July 19-21, raising $25,000 (way more than we expected) in our first fundraiser as a new nonprofit.
July 19 - Day One
It was a travel day for most of our ten climbers, since Sequoia National Park is a five-hour drive from Los Angeles. For those who were able to travel the day before, the morning was for discovery: In the morning, three of us took a short drive from the lodge to Mineral King's valley floor, where we hit a short trail that followed along the East Fork Kaweah River, we were welcomed by the bluest skies and the greenest trees and mountains – still covered in snow in July, which put on a beautiful cascading water show for us.
Late in the afternoon, as the rest of the group arrived, we took a short four-mile hike along Evelyn Lake Trail with waterfalls and a grove with these majestic sequoias seen here. It was definitely a perfect way to start the weekend and warm up for the big climb next day.
July 20 - Day Two
Finally, the day arrived to take on the summit climb for which we had all been training for months: Sawtooth Pass! After protecting the undersides of our vehicles at dawn with tarps (to keep out the marmots!), we set off on the very steep trail up the side of the valley.
Things got hairy after a couple hours when we realized the trail we intended to take to the summit was impassable due to record snow. We decided to take an unmaintained service trail up the opposite side of the bowl and to trailblaze our way to the crest of the ridge below the summit. It was an extremely steep climb as we ascended 4,000 feet in four miles.
By the time we got to the ridge, it was 2:00 PM and the 12,400-foot summit of Sawtooth Peak was in view. Normally we like to be off the mountain summit before noon, as thunderstorms tend to come in the afternoon. Also, many of our climbers were exhausted and suffering from the lack of oxygen at 11,700 feet. So out of an abundance of caution, we decided not to summit.
Dinner that night was prepared by Rick Gilles, an accomplished chef. It was a night of great food, lots of drinks and laughter.
July 21 - Day Three
Day 3 was our "fun" day. Well, sorta… Some climbers chose to relax at the cabins or do short hikes. About half of us decided to climb another ten-mile/2000ft to White Chief, a huge outcropping of pearl white quartzite in the middle of a glacial cirque. This trail lead us through alpine meadows and up the gleaming white monolith where we had a 360-degree view of the surrounding pristine mountain scape.
What's next? We don't know yet. We are about to start planning Trailmixer 2.0. As the dust settles from this amazing year, we definitely want to climb up to new heights, literally and figuratively.
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Trailmixer, John Binninger