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Climbing to fight cancer
Local man scales Mount Adams to benefit Harrison Foundation.
Chris Henrickson will climb any mountain put in front of him.
His Aug. 28 and 29 climb of Mount Adams was probably the most important climb of his life.
“My dad received prompt, attentive and knowledgeable care,” Henrickson said. “I just want to make sure that cancer care is ever-evolving at Harrison.”
Henrickson, who lost his father, Glen, to metastatic melanoma in August 2001 at the age of 52, decided to climb Mount Adams in an effort to raise money for the Harrison Foundation, the gift-receiving arm of the medical center.
“I wanted to do something for the Foundation in my father’s name for cancer care education efforts,” he said. “‘Climb for Cancer Care’ was my vision.”
As of press time, the Climb had raised nearly $3,500 and pledges were still rolling in.
Stephanie Cline, executive director of the Harrison Foundation, said the foundation depends on the generosity of people like Henrickson and his climb was a big boost.
“It’s tremendous,” Cline said. “I think a lot of people don’t realize the hospital is a charitable destination and is not only worthy of, but needing, support from the community.”
The 32-year-old Henrick-son grew up in Silverdale. His father was a member of the Bremerton Rotary, the Kitsap Golf & Country Club, the Harrison Foundation and the Washington State Funeral Director’s Association. He was president and owner of The Stone Chapel Poulsbo Mortuary at Cherry Grove Memorial Park, Forest Lawn Cemetery and Lewis Funeral Chapel, of which Henrickson is still president and co-owner.
Henrickson is an avid climber and trains for a major climb every year. After his 2008 summit of Mount St. Helens, he began to formulate the idea to make his climbs mean even more. Eventually, he decided to climb to the summit of Mount Adams via South Trail 183 on to raise funds for Harrison’s cancer care program and to honor the memory of his father.
Mount Adams, with a summit elevation of 12,276 feet, is the second most massive and the third tallest volcano in the Cascade Mountain range. It is the second highest peak in Washington state, located in the eastern Cascades, east of Mount St. Helens and north of Mount Hood.
The climb was to take place over two days and Henrickson would be joined by a friend. The plan was to climb to 9,000 feet and make camp, then finish the climb the following day, but that didn’t pan out.
“We made it to 8,000 feet and that is where we had to stop and set up camp because my climbing buddy injured his ankle,” he said. “He couldn’t walk on it too much anymore.”
Not one to quit, Henrickson decided he would finish the climb alone the next morning at 6:30, but weather conditions and his ailing friend kept the mountaineer from reaching his ultimate goal.
“I was able to make it to about 11,018 feet, but time constraints and weather conditions forced me to turn around at that point,” he said.
Henrickson said he estimated being about 90 minutes from the summit at the point he turned around, but with safety at the forefront of his mind, he did not want to push his luck. Climbing alone is dangerous and not recommended, but he felt he had to get as far as possible as to not let down the people who had made pledges. Without a GPS to guide him like digital breadcrumbs back to his camp, he said he never would have attempted the last 3,000 feet alone.
“I was pleased,” he said. “I wanted to definitely go as far as I could to give a better showing. I was a little disappointed I didn’t make it, but with what was going on, I just had to be safe about it. I plan to finish the climb in early summer next year.”