A Screamin' Good Deal

How you can help kids, climb a peak, and win a plane ticket anywhere in the United States

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Some deals are too good to be true, and some are good because they’re true. This one falls into the good-and-true category–and maybe the win-win bucket, too. As we detail in the January issue of BACKPACKER (on newsstands now; see my editor’s note of page 9), the first six readers who sign up for a Summit for Someone peak climb in 2010 and raise $1,000 above the charity’s individual fundraising goal will receive a voucher for free roundtrip on Southwest Airlines from outdoor retailer Mountain Gear.

Never heard of Summit for Someone? The short version: It’s a fundraising program that’s part of a larger nonprofit called Big City Mountaineers. BCM is a national program that provides wilderness mentoring for under-served urban teens, and it’s results have been repeatedly proven out by independent testing. I’m a longtime board member and extremely passionate advocate for BCM’s work, which I’ve experienced first-hand as a volunteer on four trips with teens from South Central L.A., Oakland, and Florida. A number of other BACKPACKER staffers have contributed time and money to BCM, and BACKPACKER has been a title sponsor of Summit for Someone since its inception six years ago.

What is a Summit for Someone trip? Here’s an example: Our publisher, Kent Ebersole, is organizing a group of five clients to join him on a climb in the Sierra this summer. He’ll ask each member of the team to raise $3,500 in contributions for Big City Mountaineers. In return, the climbers will receive a guided and fully-outfitted multiday trip, gear from other SFS sponsors, and a ton of life-list memories. After guide costs, about $2,500 of the contribution goes directly to BCM’s program — it’s enough to underwrite a complete weeklong wilderness trip for six teens.

So, back to the win-win. I would offer that a Summit for Someone climb is a good deal all by itself — one of those doing-well-while-doing-good rarities that happens to have a backpacking angle. But Paul Fish, the owner of Mountain Gear and a supporter of BCM for years, generously offered to up the ante this year by offering the free airfare. Now, I spent some time with Paul touring pack factories in Vietnam earlier this year, and I can tell you that he’s one of the real good guys in our industry. He’s taking those tickets out of his own pocket, which sure isn’t an easy thing to do in this economic climate. 

Pretty cool, eh? As I write in my January column, I’m constantly blown away by the selflessness of readers and people like Paul who start giving of themselves once they learn about BCM. I don’t know about you, but I’m going to do some of my Christmas shopping at Mountain Gear this year, just as a small way of saying thanks. Paul tells me they have some smoking deals going on right now, which I guess makes this whole thing a win-win-win. –Jonathan Dorn