In October 1993, San Franciscan Nancy Knoble should have been celebrating her father's birthday. Instead, she was informed by her doctor that she had breast cancer. Then, in a fairly ironic coincidence, she went to a fund-raiser for The Breast Cancer Fund.
"Laura (Evans) was the speaker and announced she was climbing Acongagua," Knoble recalled. Clearly, it was an omen. Determined to participate she trained hard in order to be chosen.
A year later, after successfully finishing treatment for her cancer, Knoble was one of 17 women who began preparing to climb 22,841-foot Acongagua in Argentina. All the women were also breast cancer survivors. They climbed in 1995, and Expedition Inspiration was born. Knoble was the least experienced of the climbers and the last selected for the team. Still, she and was one of only three, including Evans, who summitted.
Ten years later, Knoble continues to climb, she's cancer free (though another tumor was detected resulting in a bi-mascectomy in 1997), and is the board vice-chair of Expedition Inspiration Fund for Breast Cancer Research.
"EI has clarity of purpose," she said the day before EI's Hyndman Peak climb in the Pioneer Mountains, southeast of Ketchum. "It funds the (Laura Evans Breast Cancer) Symposium, whose intent is to stimulate true cutting edge research that will benefit those who have breast cancer and those who will, until we find effective treatment."
The Hyndman climb, on Saturday, Aug. 20, was one of the "Five Peaks in Five Years" fund-raising projects for the organization. Knoble missed the first two but will complete the cycle, she said.
"I am climbing with my partner sweetheart, who's climbing in honor of his mother who died of breast cancer," she said.
Of the 30 odd climbers, 21, including Knoble, summitted Hyndman Peak.
"EI has been through some ups and downs over the years, (notably Evan's death in 2000) but it's like breast cancer. Everything's okay, then you have a set back, but you emerge from that stronger and stronger."
More EI fund-raising climbs and hikes follow. On Sunday, Sept. 18, there is a Take-A-Hike in Seattle. On Sunday, Oct. 9, there is a Take-A-Hike in New Hampshire and on Saturday, Oct. 15, there is one in Los Angeles. The next three climbs are Ryan Peak in 2006, Castle Peak in 2007 and Mount Borah in 2008.
For more information on the Five Peaks Adventures, check out their Web site expeditioninspiration.org or call 726-6456.