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Boulder’s Heidi Wirtz climbs at a previous Climb for Life event. This year s session runs this weekend.

CORRECTION 6/10/10: This story incorrectly reported when the event started; it was launched in 2001.

If you go

What: HERA Climb for Life Boulder

When: Friday and Saturday

Cost: $75

More info: herafoundation.org

When the HERA Women’s Cancer Foundation started nine years ago, a friend asked Cathy Badell to get involved with organization’s climbing fundraiser in Boulder.

“Cancer activism is near and dear,” said Badell, of Boulder.

Badell has watched what a good friend went through as her mother died a slow and painful death from ovarian cancer, she said, and her own mother had leukemia.

Now she’s the event chairwoman of the Boulder Climb for Life event for HERA — a nonprofit that funds ovarian cancer research. Climb for Life starts Friday night and continues Saturday with either hiking or climbing instruction nearby Boulder.

With early detection, Badell said, the survival rate for ovarian cancer is 93 percent. But because early detection is uncommon, the overall five-year survival rate is less than 46 percent.

“The reason ovarian cancer is so deadly is because it is caught so late,” Badell said. “There’s no specific test for ovarian cancer.”

HERA funds research for developing such a test.

“Being a charitable event that’s intended to benefit research for ovarian cancer, it’s really emotional for a lot of people,” said Chris Schulte, a Boulder-based climber who has taught climbing at Climb for Life before. “Because they have some pretty deep roots that they’re either experiencing firsthand, or someone they know.”

That said, Schulte added that there’s always good energy at Climb for Life.

“We’re still doing something that we really enjoy,” he said. “We’re living life.”

The event kicks off Friday night with happy hour at Avery Brewing Company. On Saturday, participants will divide up to either go for a hike, or go climbing in Eldorado or Boulder canyons. Guides from Colorado Mountain School will set up topropes (and supervise) at several crags, Badell said, but pro climbers like Schulte will be out there teaching, too.

After climbing, Badell said there are skills clinics, from geology lessons to wilderness first-aid basics to bouldering skills. Saturday night, parties follow the climbing, at Foothills Community Park, then Bacaro.

Badell encourages people who have never been climbing before to try it at Climb for Life.

“We have so much great gear to give away, it’s a great way to get gear,” she said.

Schulte said he loves teaching people to climb.

“For me, the coolest thing, the biggest reward, is when you’re working with these people who have climbed just a little bit, and they have an idea of what to expect from themselves,” Schulte said.

“Most people, when they’re beginners, they have an idea of the limitations they have. And 90 percent of the time, after a clinic, they’re blown away, they say they had no idea they could do this, they had no idea they could climb a V4 or a 5.11.”

“People tend to get shocked.”

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