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Mountain to climb: Freeland man pledges $5,000 on Baker hike

Chris Kesler of Freeland holds a thank-you T-shirt atop Mount Adams last summer. The 48-year-old man will summit Mount Baker later this month as a fundraiser for the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. Mount Rainier looms in the background.  - Photo courtesy of Chris Kesler
Chris Kesler of Freeland holds a thank-you T-shirt atop Mount Adams last summer. The 48-year-old man will summit Mount Baker later this month as a fundraiser for the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. Mount Rainier looms in the background.
— image credit: Photo courtesy of Chris Kesler

Chris Kesler started mountaineering with his work last year.

It culminated in a 12,200-foot summit on Mount Adams with $3,000 raised for the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center.

That challenge wasn’t big enough for the 48-year-old Freeland man. This year, he will tackle a $5,000 fundraising goal to summit Mount Baker.

“It was very satisfying last year so we decided to sign up again,” Kesler said.

“This one’s got a lot more ice apparently. It looks gorgeous. I’ve never been there.”

Kesler’s hike will begin July 26 and wraps July 28. His group will hike to base camp Thursday and spend Friday working on falling and self-arresting with ice axes. Then late Friday night or early Saturday morning, they wake up and begin their ascent to the 10,800-foot summit.

He spent at least one day each week hiking around with a fully-loaded pack the past two months. Coupled with his running and exercise routine, the conditioning is all but over at this point.

“Most of the hard work is done now,” Kesler laughed. “I’m not going to get in any better shape in a week, any stronger.”

Fundraising encourages participants to earn their way on a guided summit of Washington’s most famous peaks. Other groups will summit Mount Rainier and Mount Adams for example.

As of July 19, Kesler raised $4,155 and was $845 shy of his goal.

He climbed Mount Adams with a work group from Lydig Construction last summer. A couple of his co-workers joined him in the Mount Baker trek this year, though it’s not an official company activity.

Cancer had not struck Kesler’s family, he said. Though he had not lost a family member to cancer, he said he believed Fred Hutchinson’s work was important to support any way he could.

“This is money that basically goes directly to research with only them as the watchdog,” Kesler said.

“People are pretty supportive if you’ve got the enthusiasm.”

With two of Washington’s top 10 highest peaks reached, Kesler said Mount Rainier is on his wish list. Though, he didn’t want to get too far ahead of himself — he still has Mount Baker in front of him.

“I’ll do this one,” he said. “There are a lot of options out there.”

To donate, visit http://getinvolved.fhcrc.org/site/TR?px=1381723&fr_id=1260&pg=personal

 

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