2012 Summit For Someone registration is now open

Big City Mountaineers, the non-profit organization that provides urban youth with opportunities to build life skills through wilderness mentoring experiences, has announced that registration is now open for their 2012 Summit For Someone program. SFS gives adventurous travelers the opportunity to climb some of the world’s most iconic peaks, while raising funds to support the Big City Mountaineers program.

The process is simple. First, you select a mountain that you’d like to climb, such as Mt. Hood in Oregon or Mt. Whitney in California. Each of the mountains has a pledge value assigned to it ranging from $2400 for alpine rock climbs up to $8500 for a full blown mountaineering expedition. By signing up to climb a particular peak, you agree to raise the pledge amount for Big City Mountaineers. Once you’ve reached that goal, you’ll join a Summit For Someone climb on that mountain.

The SMS website has a full list of 2012 climbs which can be viewed here. Some of the mountains available include Grand Teton in Wyoming, Mt. Rainier in Washington, and Kilimanjaro in Tanzania. Difficulty levels range from beginner, meaning no mountaineering experience at all, to advanced, which is reserved for those who already have a variety of technical climbing skills. There are a number of intermediate options as well, offering something for everyone.

The beauty of the Summit For Someone program is that it gives travelers an opportunity to take part in a true mountain climb and a real adventure, while also raising funds to support a fantastic youth program. If you’re considering options for travel in 2012, perhaps an SMS trip would be the perfect opportunity for you.

[Photo credit: Walter Siegmund via WikiMedia]

Mother of all relay races takes place today

The 29th annual Hood to Coast Relay will take place today when more than 12,000 runners will descend on Mt. Hood in Oregon to take part in the largest relay race in the world. The event gets underway with the first wave of runners setting out from Timberline Lodge, located at 6000 feet on the mountain, at 6:30 AM. After that, more teams will follow every 15 minutes until the final runners hit the course at 6:45 PM this evening. The race will end tomorrow when the final teams reach the town of Seaside on the Pacific Coast.

The Hood to Coast Relay more than lives up to its moniker as “the mother of all relays.” The race runs for 197 miles and is broken up into 36 different legs, each between 3.7 and 7.4 miles in length. The teams taking part in the race consist of 8 to 12 member, and each member must run at least three of the legs. The number of teams that can take part in the event is limited to 1000, and in a testament to how popular the relay is, the event has filled its capacity, on the first day that registration opens, for the past 12 years running.

While the Hood to Coast looks like it would be a lot of fun in and of itself, the entire event is also used to raise funds for their charity of choice, the American Cancer Society. Last year the event raised more than $360,000 for that charity, and fans of the race can contribute to that worthy cause on their donations page.

And when the race is finished tomorrow, organizers wrap up the weekend with the largest beach part on the west coast, which includes live music, dancing, and an awards ceremony, not to mention plenty of things to eat and drink.

Anyone want to organize a Gadling team for next year?

[Photo credit: Hood to Coast Relay]

Two climbers missing, one dead on Mt. Hood

It was a long and tragic weekend on Oregon’s Mt. Hood, where search and rescue teams combed the area searching for three missing climbers. That search turned tragic on Saturday when one of the climbers was found dead high on the mountain, while his two companions remain missing as of this writing.

On Friday, 26-year old Luke T. Gullberg, Kattie Nolan, 29, and Anthony Vietti, 24, set off to climb the 11,249 foot Mt. Hood, which is a popular mountaineering destination in all seasons, although obviously more challenging in the winter months, when deep snow and unpredictable weather can cause all kinds of problems. The three climbers were due back at 2 PM that afternoon, but when they didn’t arrive by Saturday, the search teams went into action.

Gulberg’s body was discovered on the Reid Glacier at about 9000 feet, along with some climbing gear, but no trace of Nolan or Vietti was discovered. The recovery team said they found a digital camera in Gulberg’s pack, which gave clues to the location of the missing climbers, but due to bad weather, heavy snow, and avalanche conditions, finding them won’t be an easy task. That task will be made all the more difficult by an incomplete climbing registration form and conflicting reports on the route they were taking to the summit.

The search is expected to continue today, with a National Guard and Coast Guard helicopter reporting to the area. The Coast Guard aircraft comes equipped with thermal imaging that should prove helpful to SAR teams, despite the adverse weather conditions. Search teams remain hopeful that Nolan and Vietti will still be found alive.