Brittney Woodrum stood facing Colorado’s Little Bear Peak with a large green box strapped to her back and a decision to make. She could hike the technically difficult Alamosa County mountain as part of her months-long journey to climb all 58 of the state’s fourteeners, or she could quit. The box on her back propelled her to keep going.
The DU graduate student made a commitment to raise money for the emergency aid organization Shelter Box. Her challenge was to summit the mountains, each towering at 14,000 feet and higher, while carrying the green box affixed to a metal backpack frame.
She was on the second day of her journey in July when she encountered Little Bear. Helmet on, armed with experience, but without the safety of ropes, Woodrum felt shaky and nervous. The box’s added surface area compounded her unease.
“It’s bulky and it’s heavy, but really that box was what was driving me forward. I think if I hadn’t had that box on my back, I probably would’ve quit on [Little Bear]. But I was doing it for a greater cause; that’s what inspired me to keep going,” she says. “I made it up and I made it down. After that day, the bar had been set—I knew what I could do.”
Woodrum accomplished her goal when she ascended Pikes Peak on Sept. 26 and raised nearly $85,000 for Shelter Box in the process. (Shelter Box deploys its containers to communities needing emergency disaster relief. Each box is packed with lifesaving gear: a tent, tools, lighting, blankets, pots and pans, wash basins and soap.)
“Just because we are in the midst of a pandemic doesn’t mean disasters have stopped,” Woodrum says.
Her mission had resonated with people everywhere. Woodrum’s project was featured on CNN and in People magazine, among others, inspiring audiences to give, get outside and make a difference during a particularly challenging time.