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Benjamin Lee's Fundraiser:

Mt Whitney Benefit Climb

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BENEFITING: Big City Mountaineers

Benjamin Lee


In the August 2012 issue of BACKPACKER, editor-in-chief Jonathan Dorn invited readers to join him on a great adventure: climbing 14,505-foot Mt. Whitney, the highest peak in the Lower 48, in April 2013. He’d worked with guides from renowned outfitter Sierra Mountaineering International to reserve 20 spots on the classic Mountaineer’s Route, thinking he’d be thrilled to have that many readers join him—not because Whitney isn’t popular with BACKPACKER readers, but because this climb came with a greater-than-usual cost. Dorn conceived of this event as a benefit for Big City Mountaineers, a nonprofit that provides wilderness mentoring for under-resourced urban teens, and told readers that he expected each one of them to commit to a fundraising goal of $4,000. Readers would receive great guiding, free gear, and other benefits, but he knew that the fundraising goal really raised the bar.

Then the unexpected happened: BACKPACKER readers responded in droves, flooding Dorn’s inbox with entries—far more than his wildest dreams. They represented every sector of BACKPACKER’s audience: young and old, rural and suburban, Ohio and California, men and women, experienced and beginners, and from every background, ethnicity, and profession imaginable.

Ultimately, we couldn’t take everyone. Because of USFS quotas for camping on that route, we had to cap the number of climbers at “only” 60. But those spots filled up instantly, and BACKPACKER will now take over the mountain for almost the entire month of April, with six consecutive climbs on the Mountaineer’s Route, each with 9-10 climbers and 3 SMI guides. It will be a remarkable show of support from BACKPACKER’s reader on behalf of the youth that Big City Mountaineers serves.

Over the next several months, we will update this page with more news about the climb—plus live feeds from our training and the climbs themselves courtesy of DeLorme, which is joining the climb and providing inReach 2-Way Satellite Messaging devices (a BACKPACKER Editors’ Choice Award winner) for our climbers to use.

Scroll down past the news updates to see the BACKPACKER readers who are participating. If you’d like to contribute to their fundraising efforts, head to


November 15, 2013: Polar explorer Erik Larsen to join Whitney expedition. BACKPACKER and DeLorme announced today that Larsen—the only person to have reached the North and South Poles plus summit of Mt. Everest in one 365-day period—would be joining one or two of BACKPACKER’s Climb for Kids trips as a guest leader.



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