Climbing high Businessman reaches pinnacles for charity
Winchester — There is nothing quite like looking down on the earth from the top of a mountain, especially one you have just climbed.
Steve DuBrueler, 42, of Winchester experienced that feeling twice during a recent trip to Mexico to climb two dormant volcanoes.
Unusually good weather and great climbing conditions made reaching the tops of Pico de Orizaba, 18,491 feet, and Iztaccihuatl, 17,160 feet, moments he will never forget.
Standing with six other climbers and a guide atop Pico de Orizaba in particular felt like he was on “an island to itself,” DuBrueler said.
“We are standing on the summit with the volcano opening on one side of us. It is probably 2,000 or 3,000 vertical feet down inside the volcano,” he said. “You are standing at 18,000 feet to the other side. It is a pretty dramatic view, being above the clouds that far.”
The nine-day trip was the culmination of months of work for the seven team members participating in Climb for Kids, a program in which a group of real-estate agents from across the country raise money for children’s charities in conjunction with mountain-climbing expeditions, said DuBrueler, president and chief executive officer of Coldwell Banker Premier Properties in Winchester.
The proceeds from this year’s fundraiser will go to Easter Seals’ Make the First Five Count program. The awareness campaign is designed to obtain — for children under 5 at risk of developmental delays, disabilities or autism — the support they need to be school-ready and start building on life lessons
The team has raised $57,250, and members will accept donations through the end of February, DuBrueler said. He has raised about $7,100 of the total.
The trip had great success, with six of the seven team members reaching both summits — one climber had problems with altitude sickness, said Rick Davidson of Bernardsville, N.J., who started Climb for Kids in 2006.
For three of the climbers who gained the summits, it was their first time climbing.
The team changes every year, although it has a few core members — he and DuBrueler, who always participate, are two of them.
DuBrueler was well-trained and prepared for the climbs, Davidson said, and “was instrumental in helping other members of the team to encourage them along at difficult parts of the climb to help them get to the top.”
The team was in Mexico by Nov. 23 and, after becoming accustomed to the altitude, began by climbing Iztaccihuatl, DuBrueler said. The going was tough, he added, as they entered through mountain meadows with high grass and encountered a rocky climb.
On the morning of Nov. 27, the team members broke camp, at about 15,500 feet, at 1 a.m. and climbed until they reached the summit around 8 a.m. The climb included significant travel across glaciers up the steep mountain.
It was a beautiful clear day, and the climbers had a great view of Popocatépetl, a nearby active volcano that “was pretty active that day.”
“We actually had some great views of it showing off and spouting some ashes in the air. It was pretty neat,” DuBrueler said.
The team descended the mountain to the trailhead that day and drove to Pueblo to stay the night.
For Pico de Orizaba, they camped for the night at 12,000 feet, but broke camp at midnight to begin a one-day assault up and down the volcano Nov. 30. The volcano had a headwall — a steep vertical ascent — of a few thousand feet almost straight up, but by midday, they were at the summit.
The temperature was about zero, but the wind was light — good conditions for the climbers, Davidson said.
“The weather was spectacular, which is a rarity to have that kind of fortune with weather on both of these mountains that create their own weather. We were fortunate that way,” he said.
The weather started to worsen during the descent, but everyone returned safely, and by the next day, Dec. 1, flew home.
DuBrueler said he was thrilled with the experience, and the team members are already discussing their next excursion, with Russia as a possible destination.
Steve DuBrueler is still acceping donations for Easter Seals’ Make the First Five Count program. For more information, visit easterseals.com/goto/climb2012.
— Contact Laura McFarland at firstname.lastname@example.org