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If you go

What: HERA Climb4Life Colorado

When: Friday and Saturday

Where: All events are in or near Boulder

More info: herafoundation.org

HERA founder Sean Patrick knew intimately what some of us only glimpse: Climbing is a wonderful metaphor for life.

This weekend, the fifth HERA Climb4Life Colorado takes place here in Boulder. Though Patrick lost her long battle with ovarian cancer in 2009, her legacy lives on in this organization that not only raises funds for ovarian cancer research, but also teaches people that wonderful metaphor, climbing.

You can still sign up to either climb or hike during Climb4Life Colorado with guides from the Colorado Mountain School and pro athletes at nearby crags this weekend. It’s inexpensive — $75 for a day of climbing, with a guide is a steal on its own.

There’s also yoga, food, drinks, massage, gear giveaways…but forget all of that other stuff. Your money goes to cancer research.

If you’ve been thinking about trying rock climbing but can’t seem to find the perfect opportunity, look no further. Seriously. Don’t wait on your always-too-busy pal to take you. Take it from one of those always-too-busy pals: It took me months to take my pal Mel rock climbing. That was last summer. I haven’t taken her again since. So don’t wait.

It’s not just for beginners — experienced climbers are welcome too. So give it a try. Besides, I hear the after party is awesome.

Even Climb4Life veteran Emily Clarendon, who splits her time between Eldorado Springs and Denver, mentioned the party…after saying how great the people are, how the guides make her feel safe, how it feels good to increase awareness about a relatively silent disease (the symptoms, like indigestion and pelvic discomfort, are generic).

“And the sense of community — I see the same faces every year,” Emily said as she listed what she loves about Climb4Life. “And the party’s a lot of fun,” she added, with a laugh.

Emily said she had a powerful experience at her first Climb4Life three years ago. She met an ovarian cancer survivor who had never rock climbed before, but was out learning to climb.

“I felt really good helping her, and we since have been reconnected every year, so that’s powerful, knowing what she’s gone through,” Emily said.

Climb4Life is one of those events that bring out the best in the climbing community. I’ve been watching a woman I know from Chicks With Picks, Hillary Nitschke, of Golden, send out requests for HERA donations on Facebook for a month or more. She’s nearly met her $1,000 goal. I think it’s not just because she’s turned her Facebook presence into the equivalent of an NPR fundraising drive (relentless!), it’s that the community is supportive.

Hillary told me she’s excited about climbing (“I’m always inspired by the climbing community!” she said), but that’s not why she signed on for Climb4Life this year.

“I enjoy getting involved in fundraising, because it is so easy to remain self-centered and myopic in our everyday lives, but there’s always more to life,” Hillary said. “This gives me the opportunity to reach outside of myself and to ask for others to do the same. In doing so, we recognize that when we give, we enrich our own lives as well.”

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