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Learning to rock climb with a purpose

Published September 9, 2013 9:24 am

Nonprofit teaches scaling skills while raising funds for ovarian cancer research.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Debbie Seaver had been looking for a way to properly introduce her two preteen sons to climbing when a friend mentioned Climb4Life.

Seaver immediately liked the idea of professional climbers guiding her boys into the sport, but it was the other half of the event that clinched the Seavers' participation.

"We had done a little rock climbing, and I thought it sounded great to get into it this way," Seaver said. "I didn't know about the cancer part of it until I started looking into it. Once I found that out, I was really interested because my grandmother died of ovarian cancer."

Seaver likes the fact that she and the boys are learning the proper way to climb from experts while raising money for a great cause at the same time.

The 12th Annual Climb4Life Utah is being held Sept. 13 to 15. It's presented by the nonprofit

Climb4Life">HERA Women's Cancer Foundation and hosted locally by Black Diamond.

"Twelve years ago, HERA founder Sean Patrick started Climb4Life in Salt Lake City with the vision of putting a different face on ovarian cancer — one of health, strength and empowerment," said Meg Steitz, executive director for the HERA Foundation. "For 12 years, we've been inspired by the Salt Lake City community, who has come together year after year to celebrate Sean's life and to keep fighting ovarian cancer, which continues to take far too many lives each year. Climb4Life Utah has become our longest running and largest event of the series, and we're looking forward to our best event yet in Salt Lake."

Climbing is not the only activity associated with the fundraiser. Hiking and outdoor photography workshops also are offered. Climbers will be guided by professionals from Utah Mountain Adventures and hiking groups will be led by representatives from SPLORE.

Professional photographers will guide participants on a half-day of shooting then help people learn how to store, organize, edit and publish photos.

Other Climb4Life events are scheduled in Boston; Washington, D.C.; and Boulder, Colo.

Organizers have a goal of raising $70,000 for ovarian cancer research and awareness. If the goal is reached, Climb4Life Utah will have raised more than $750,000 in its 12 years.

"What I like is the education aspect and early testing," Seaver said. "The best way to prevent it is with early detection."

Black Diamond Equipment in Salt Lake has hosted Climb4Life since the inaugural event in 2001. Company officials look forward to many more in the future.

"While the goal of the event is to raise funds and awareness for ovarian cancer research, it has grown into something much larger. It's now developed into a very strong Salt Lake community event that brings together kids, women and men to celebrate life, share friendship and have fun climbing at our local Wasatch crags," said Jonathan Thesenga, global sports marketing manager at Black Diamond. "We look forward to hosting the Climb4Life event every year as it provides inspiration to us all."

The Seavers, including Luc, 12, and Grant, 10, found out about Climb4Life just before last year's event, and it was a bit of a scramble to figure out how to make it work, but organizers made it happen.

"Luc is scared of heights, and he hated the idea that I signed him up," Seaver said. "But we had one of their friends join us at the last minute, and the three boys had a blast climbing and at the party afterward."

With more time this year, the Seavers have formed a team and called in a special leader — Brent Martin — from California to led their charge up the rock wall.

"I was telling him about last year after we did it, and he said he would have liked to have done it and that he had always wanted to climb in Utah, so we decided to do it this year," Seaver said.

The Beezmeisters, as they will be known, will be busy working on pledges for their climb. Telling other people they are climbing to raise money for cancer awareness and early detection is good for her sons, Seaver said.

"I don't think they really understood at first what it was all about," she said. "It was good to see the impact once they realized what they were doing."

Seaver has asked the boys to work on gathering their own pledges and set a goal for each of collecting at least five donations.

Besides all the other benefits of participating, Seaver also is looking forward to being on belay.

"I just like being out there challenging myself and conquering my fears. It is a great way to bond with my sons and I'll be thinking of my grandmother," she said. "Besides, it is still less expensive than hiring a guide to teach you to climb."


Twitter: @BrettPrettyman —


O The 12th Annual Climb4Life event is Sept. 13 to 15 as a fundraiser for the HERA Women's Cancer Foundation and hosted by Black Diamond. Registration ends Sept. 9. Activities include a social and climbing, hiking and outdoor photography sessions with professionals. Visit http://www.herafoundation.org/c4l-utah-2013/ for details.