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Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center's Big Expedition for Cancer Research Team Returns From Reconnaissance Flight Over Alaska's Glacier Bay Park
Date:3/14/2008

Team finalizes choice of mountain and route for June expedition

SEATTLE, March 14 /PRNewswire/ -- Members from Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center's Big Expedition for Cancer Research got their first aerial look at the peak they will climb this summer. The group returned today from a photo flyover to plan a primary route up the unnamed and unclimbed mountain in Alaska's Glacier Bay National Park. The Big Expedition for Cancer Research is a quest sponsored by the Hutchinson Center to raise national awareness of cancer research.

The 8,300 foot mountain, which had not been seen by a mountaineer in more than 30 years, had only been viewed from one side, making planning for the expedition difficult. It is in a remote location and features a precipitous peak.

This June, a team of four professional climbers from across North America will scale the unnamed peak as the kick-off event of this national awareness campaign. The climb mirrors the quest to eliminate cancer -- the route is uncharted, there are inevitable unexpected setbacks and exhilarating advances, yet the goal remains paramount.

"The remoteness of the mountain makes this an expedition in the truest sense," said Kevin Mahoney, expedition member from Madison, New Hampshire. "It's a classic peak, but one that offers no easy routes. Its location adds to the challenge. As climbers, we are all excited to climb this peak in the name of cancer research."

Using Air Excursions flying service out of Juneau, Kevin Mahoney; Jim Wickwire, an experienced Alaska climber and member of the Mountaineering Advisory Committee; and Kit Herrod, director of public relations for the Hutchinson Center, were on board for the flyover to finalize the mountain choice and route.

"After more than three decades, it was exciting to see this area of the Fairweather Range again," said Jim Wickwire, who first viewed the mountain in the late 1970s while climbing in the area. "It is truly a stunning peak."

The public will be able to follow the four mountaineers step by step during the planning stages and then through the climb itself on the Big Expedition Web site at http://www.fhcrc.org/about/bigexpedition. On a parallel track, the Web site will profile four Hutchinson Center scientists, all avid outdoor enthusiasts, to reflect the similarities between the quest to scale an unclimbed peak and the mission to eliminate cancer.

BACKGROUND

About the Big Expedition for Cancer Research

Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center launched the Big Expedition last fall to create public awareness around the monumental task of eliminating cancer. "The scaling of an unclimbed mountain is a good metaphor for cancer research because the challenges are unknown until you are in the middle of it and no one wants to turn back," said Nobel laureate Lee Hartwell, Ph.D., president and director of the Hutchinson Center. "Through the efforts of these professional mountaineers, we hope to build awareness for the critical need to support cancer research."

About the Big Expedition's Mountaineering Advisory Committee

This group of renowned mountaineers, expedition leaders and adventurers, consists of Phil and Susan Ershler, the first couple to climb the world's "Seven Summits," the highest peaks on each of the seven continents; John Harlin, a noted climber and editor of American Alpine Journal; Eric Simonson, leader of the historic Mount Everest expedition that found the body of George Leigh Mallory; John Roskelley, a public servant, conservationist, author and revered American Himalayan climber; Ed Viesturs, one of America's leading high-altitude mountaineers; and Jim Wickwire, a climbing legend and Alaska mountaineering expert who was the first American to climb K2, the second-highest mountain on Earth.

About Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center

At Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, interdisciplinary teams of world-renowned scientists and humanitarians work together to prevent, diagnose and treat cancer, HIV/AIDS and other diseases. Our researchers, including three Nobel laureates, bring a relentless pursuit and passion for health, knowledge and hope to their work and to the world. For more information, please visit http://fhcrc.org.

Video available: http://www.sidewalkcinema.com/alaska then Fred Hutch Mountain Video to download coverage.


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SOURCE Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center
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