Brokers and Realtors will Climb for Kids

Posted: November 13, 2012

The Winchester Star

Steve DuBrueler, president and CEO of Coldwell Banker Premier Properties in Winchester, leaves for a trip the day after Thanksgiving to climb Pico de Orizaba, the highest mountain in Mexico, for the Climb for Kids. Proceeds from the climb will benefit Easter Seals’ Make the First Five Count program. (Photo by Jeff Taylor/The Winchester Star)
The Climb for Kids team traverses a ridge in June 2011. This year, the team will climb the summits of Pico de Orizaba, which is 18,491 feet tall, and Iztaccihuatl, 17,160 feet.
Climbers Steve DuBrueler (left) and Rick Davidson take a minute in May 2009 to celebrate reaching the summit of Mount Hood in Oregon.

Winchester — For the moment, Steve DuBrueler, 42, of Winchester has a little trouble pronouncing the names of Pico de Orizaba and Iztaccihuatl.

But by early December, the two dormant Mexican volcanoes will have made a lasting impression on him. DuBrueler is participating in Climb for Kids, a program in which a small group of brokers and Realtors from across the country raise money for children’s charities in conjunction with ambitious mountain climbing expeditions.

DuBrueler departs Nov. 23 for a nine-day trip to Mexico that he hopes will result in his teammates and him making it to the summits of Pico de Orizaba, which is 18,491 feet tall, and Iztaccihuatl, 17,160 feet.

“They are both volcanoes, which is pretty cool,” said DuBrueler, president and CEO of Coldwell Banker Premier Properties in Winchester. “There will be a lot of glaciers, which also makes for an interesting climb.”

The proceeds from this year’s fundraiser will go to Easter Seals’ Make the First Five Count program. It is an awareness campaign designed to get children under age 5 who are at risk of developmental delays, disabilities or autism the right support they need to be school-ready and start building on life lessons.

Every year, more than a million children with unidentified disabilities enter school with learning and health issues that put them far behind their peers and have a lasting, negative effect on their ability to meet their full potential, according to the Easter Seals website.

DuBrueler has been asking friends, looking for corporate sponsorships and organizing restaurant sprit nights to raise the money, 100 percent of which will go to the charity. By the time he is done, he hopes to have raised about $7,500 for the program.

“Anything we can do to raise money for the charity and the kids. I am not proud when it comes to that,” he said with a laugh.

It takes months of physical training to prepare for the climb, as DuBrueler has learned on past expeditions. He trains four days a week with a personal trainer, which still pales next to the conditions on the mountains, he said.

The climbers will deal with extreme weather conditions, high altitude, and possible sickness and injury, said Rick Davidson of Bernardsville, N.J., who started Climb for Kids in 2006. The expeditions don’t always make it to the summit or at least not in their entirety if someone has to turn back.

By the time the team reaches the glacier on the volcanoes, members have to be roped together because there is the possibility of a slip or a fall into a crevasse, Davidson said.

“Steve has always been a very strong climber. He certainly comes well prepared and has done the necessary training in order to make it to the summit,” Davidson said. “He is a rope teammate that I have a lot of trust and confidence in and that I can count on. And I expect that to be the case when we get to Mexico.”

The team members will meet Nov. 23 in Mexico City and drive out the next day to begin the climbs.

They are spread throughout the country and include a core group of climbers who have been doing the expeditions since the beginning and several first-timers, DuBrueler said.

The climbs are not just straight treks up the mountains, he said. Especially once they reach the higher elevations, the members employ a method called acclimatization. They conduct day hikes that gain significant altitude and then return to sleep and recuperate at lower altitudes.

“We will have to acclimatize several times on Pico de Orizaba,” he said. “It is no walk in the park. This is a pretty serious mountain.”

For the last push, the team members probably will leave camp at around midnight to make the summit during daylight and try to make it back to camp by about dusk, he said.

Mountain climbing can be a humbling experience, DuBrueler said. One thing he has learned for certain in the expeditions he has been on is that the team makes it to the summit “if the mountain lets us.”

On the first climb he ever went on — Climb for Kids’ first expedition in 2006 — apparently Washington’s Mount Adams answered no. The weather was atrocious, and the team was turned back. If that had been his only experience of climbing, DuBrueler said, he probably wouldn’t still be doing it.

Fortunately on that same trip, the team went to Mount Hood in Oregon and had a “uniquely clear day” where the participants could see all around the mountain from the summit, he said.

“Sometimes you make it to the summit and you can’t see your hand in front of your face,” he said. “It is great to make the summit, but you could be standing 10,000 feet lower and nobody would know any different.”

In the years that followed, it took DuBrueler three attempts to make it to the summit of Mount Adams and two times on Mount Rainier. Other expeditions have taken DuBrueler to Mount Baker and Mount Shuksan in Washington, Alaska’s Eldridge Glacier, and Mount Aconcagua in Argentina.

At 22,837 feet, Mount Aconcagua is the tallest mountain in North and South America. DuBrueler made it to 19,500 feet before he had to be flown off because of kidney stones and altitude sickness.

Even with the cold, the injuries and the heavy toll the climb takes on his body, DuBrueler and several other climbers keep coming back year after year. Partly it is helping the charity, which always has to be related to children, but partly it is simply an amazing experience, he said.

“As silly as it sounds, it is really rewarding,” he said. “It is a very unique adventure where you have to pull from our own strength but also rely on our team. And how many people can say they have stood on top of the world almost?”

Information

A fundraiser is under way through Friday at Frenchies Frozen Yogurt Lounge at 5-Star Auto Spa off Pleasant Valley Road in Winchester. A percentage of yogurt and car wash purchases will be donated to Climb for Kids. Call 540-667-2014.

For more information on how to contribute to Climb for Kids, go to easterseals.com/goto/climb2012.

— Contact Laura McFarland at lmcfarland@winchesterstar.com