Climbing to complete a promise |

Climbing to complete a promise

John GardnerGlenwood Springs, CO Colorado
SubmittedTim Danley of Rifle holds up prayer flags he carried with him during last year's expedition in June to summit Washington's Mount Baker with Alpine Ascents International. Danley and his group attempted to climb the mountain to raise money for the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, Wash., but the group was turned around 700 feet from the summit because of adverse weather conditions.

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado – With only 700 feet to reach the 10,781-foot summit of Washington’s Mount Baker, 40-year-old Tim Danley’s group of mountaineers stopped in their snowy tracks. They were at the base of the Roman Headwall, the last technical section of the climb.Their guide from Alpine Ascents International, took a knee and looked at the ground as he told Danley he was “pulling the plug” on the expedition. The June storm had won the round, but for Danley of Rifle, the fight was far from over.”We were there,” Danley said with disappointment in his voice. He spoke of the trip from the comfort of The Summit Coffee House in Glenwood Springs, nearly one year later.”It was sad,” Danley explained. “Mostly because of the people I was climbing for, but I respected his decision.”

He had to. He didn’t go there to die, which is always a fear when climbing any peak. Danley and the group of nine climbers, including his co-worker from Valley View Hospital in Glenwood, Dr. Ken Eckstein, were part of a Climbing for the Cure expedition organized through the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle.For Danley it was one of the best experiences of his life.”The weather was pretty bad the whole time,” Danley said. “But, it was an amazing time.”The three days spent on the mountain were cold and wet, Danley said. On the last day, the group started the summit push about midnight. It started snowing so heavily, the only way Danley knew he was moving at all, was by watching the rope he was tied-in to, moving through the carabiner on his safety harness.”It was rewarding, even though we didn’t reach the summit,” Danley said. “But we did what we wanted to do.”It was Danley’s second trip in as many years with “The Hutch” as he calls it, climbing for the cure. He does it for one reason, in hopes that one day the money he raises will aid in finding a cure for cancer.”I just love doing this,” Danley said. “I love to climb, so why not do it for a reason?”As a laboratory technician at VVH, Danley said he sees a lot of cancer patients, it’s a part of the job. But he has also been touched more closely by the disease. His mother is a cancer survivor, losing a breast to the disease several years ago. Danley also has two friends currently making the expedition through chemotherapy. Climbing for those who are trying to summit in their climb over cancer is the only way Danley knows to help.

“I am doing this for those who are too weak to get out of bed, or lift a spoon to their mouth,” Danley states on his expedition web page. “My fight to plant their (prayer) flags on the summit is symbolic of their fight for life.”Last year Danley raised $3,000 for research and is closing in on his goal of the same amount this year. Currently Danley has raised another $2,500 for this year’s trip. The money doesn’t pay for the expedition, but goes directly to cancer research at Hutchinson, Danley said. He pays his own way for the expedition, in more ways than one.”It’s not always fun doing it,” Danley admitted. “You want to give up. You get to a point where your legs are so tired, you’re wet and cold, but you have to go on. Then when you get to the top – Wow.”Over the past 10 months Danley has been biking, hiking, and climbing to keep in shape. Images of the Roman Headwall linger in his memory on a daily basis.”There were a few moments where I felt that I had failed those I was climbing for,” Danley said. “But we didn’t. We went as far as we could, safely. We came back to lend support for another day.”

Come July 19-21, Danley will return in hopes of finding his footsteps upon Mt. Baker’s summit this year. Not only for his stubborn self but to show those that need hope that he never gave up.”I made those people a promise that I would carry their prayer flags to the summit,” Danley said. “And I’m going to keep that promise.”Contact John Gardner: 384-9114jgardner@postindependent.comPost Independent, Glenwood Springs, Colorado CO

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