The North Face climber gains new perspective on climb



When Marlyss Bird signed up to represent The North Face at Climb Against the Odds, she didn’t really know what she was getting herself into. She’s not a breast cancer survivor and nobody in her immediate family has had the disease. Summiting a mountain was on her bucket list and she wanted to do it for a cause.

But after arriving at Mt. Shasta and learning about some of the stories driving her teammates, she started to understand the significance of the Climb.

Her rope team included Leslie Kelly and Bridget Vanoni, a mother-and-daughter pair from Sonoma, Calif. Leslie has survived two breast cancer diagnoses and has climbed Mt. Shasta three times with the Breast Cancer Fund.

Marlyss was inspired by Leslie’s determination and strength. “Just to see her strength out there- after what she’s been through and going through. And just to see Bridget’s quiet strength and to think about how scary that must be to have your mom go through that twice and to see mom sick and struggling. It was really impressive to see them work so hard to get to the top.”

Marlyss, Leslie and Bridget were the first to summit Mt. Shasta that day.

“I was not aware that we were on our way to being first to the summit until our guide, Eric, said something at the top of the West Face,” Leslie said.  “It made me smile; not in a competitive way, but at the ease of which it was happening.”

The three women barely spoke.

“There was this quiet focus about the three of us…almost eerie, but beautiful,” Leslie said.  “Marlyss and I didn’t know each other well, we barely spoke the entire climb, but we know each other now. I don’t know how to explain that feeling; there were no words, we didn’t need them.”

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