Mounties climbing for kids
Foursome to tackle mountain for RCMP 125th and charity
By Chris Woodall
Four Canadian climbers, including RCMP Constable Cliff Chastellaine of the Pemberton detachment, are going to kick some ice in the new year by climbing a South American mountain for charity.
Joining Chastellaine are Gibsons detachment Const. Manuel Pizarro, Cpl. Jacques Maillet at Regina, Sask., and Coast Independent News advertising sales staffer Richard Getzkow.
The climb by the three Mounties and Getzkow will celebrate the 125th anniversary of the world-renowned Royal Canadian Mounted Police and will give something back to the community by raising money for the Children's Wish Foundation of Canada.
The goal is to scale the tallest peak in the Americas, 22,841 foot Mount Aconcagua, raising money in corporate or individual donations for each foot of elevation.
Aconcagua sits in Argentina, although the base camp lies on the border between Argentina and Chile.
Pizarro and Getzkow are familiar with Mount Aconcagua, but for different reasons.
The two attacked the mountain together in 1995. But while Chilean-born Pizarro reached the pinnacle, Getzkow couldn't get beyond the 21,000-foot level.
Getzkow is determined to touch the top this time.
"I'm training a lot more now," he says. "I had been smoking for 10 years and had just quit smoking two months before the climb, but I haven't smoked since."
Both Getzkow and Pizarro have been climbing for 10 years and frequently scale mountains together.
While Pemberton's Chastellaine has been away on a police course and wasn't able to talk about his role in the attempt to ascend Aconcagua (he and Pizarro were RCMP cadets together at Regina), Getzkow says Chastellaine and Maillet are in fierce training to be ready.
"It's a relentless pursuit," Getzkow says.
One important first stage has been completed. McDonald’s restaurants in Gibsons and Sechelt are onside as sponsors, as is Sussex Realty on behalf of its 23 offices across B.C.
Their participation means equipment and other operating budget items have been covered, Getzkow says.
The next step is to raise money for the Children’s Wish Foundation through sale of commemorative T-shirts and stickers, individual donations and so on. The McDonald’s franchises involved, for example, will donate a portion of their sale of Big Macs to the cause.
The climb should take about 25 days, Getzkow says. "January is their summer."
The mountain, while no mole hill, is only 80 per cent the height of Mount Everest, which is a good thing.
"About 20,000 feet is where most of the problems start to occur," Getzkow says of the need for oxygen and other strains on the human body just being that high up in elevation.
The final day of the ascent will take the foursome from the 20,000-foot level to the peak 3,000 feet away, where the team will plant flags and do the tourist thing with a video camera so they can show the folks back home where they were.
If all goes well, when the mountaineers return they'll continue with plans for "Children’s Wish II", a climb up Alaska's Mount McKinley in May, 1999.