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How Can You Use Your Sense of Adventure For Good?

At The Cairn Project, we celebrate our Ambassadors and their Adventure Fundraisers that raise grant funding to support organizations that expand wilderness experiences to more girls+ and women+.

8 of our Ambassadors completed their Adventure Fundraisers in 2023. By designing their own adventures in mountaineering, trail running, thru-hiking, and paddling, these women raised $15,000 to share their love of the outdoors with the world and work toward a more equitable outdoors!

Take a look at what our Ambassadors did to get inspired for your next adventure in 2024:

Allissa Thompson: Mountaineering Aconcagua in Argentina

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In early 2023, Allissa returned for a second summit bid of Aconcagua: at 22,838 feet, the highest mountain in the Americas, the highest outside Asia, the highest in the Southern Hemisphere, and one of the Seven Summits. 

In 2022, COVID-19 derailed her first summit bid, and in a heartbreaking series of events, her team was forced to evacuate only 6 days into their expedition. But this year, Allissa reached her fourth of the Seven Summits through her Adventure Fundraiser!

Kiah Champion: Running an Ultramarathon in Philadelphia

Kiah took on her very first 50 kilometer ultramarathon race in May. Although she had originally pictured this milestone happening in the backcountry, she ultimately selected the Dirty German in Philadelphia, PA as a nod to her roots. 

Kiah found community, belonging, and support in this city and decided it would be most meaningful to run in a place so personal to her. As she says, “I believe that there is limitless power in community. Getting outdoors brings us together and brings out the best in each of us. I find so much joy and freedom in trying new things outdoors, so I ‘d love for more young girls to get that opportunity too, regardless of what they come from.”

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Song Seto: Glaciated Climb of Mt. Baker in Washington

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Song decided on an Adventure Fundraiser to Washington State’s northernmost volcano, Mt. Baker, in July. As a child of immigrants and a late bloomer, Song is a mountaineer and fairly new to skiing. She’s excited to inspire those who are new to outdoor experiences and committed to doing something extraordinary at older ages.

Song focused on sharing not only the story of her ascent, but also the equally important stories of preparation, community and belonging, and safely descending volcanoes as part of her campaign.

Kelly Gazarik: Four Pass Loop trail run in Colorado

Kelly set off on a one-day trail run in July to complete the 27.4 mile Four Pass Loop in the Maroon Bells in the Snowmass Wilderness in Aspen, Colorado. This Included a total elevation gain of 7,734 feet!

As Kelly says, “The outdoors have brought me so much joy, strength, and confidence, and I know those experiences were due to the generosity of numerous individuals. They showed me how to survive and thrive outside. I want to share this gift with others so they too can create their own adventures. Giving back to a community that gave so much to me has always been something close to my heart.”

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April Martinez: Mt. Rainier Summit in Washington

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In July, April, a first-generation Filipina-American residing in the Pacific Northwest, reached the top of the iconic Mt. Rainier, a towering glaciated volcano in Washington state sitting at 14,411 feet. 

Her deep love for the outdoors blossomed during her military days, where building skills from “field training exercises” evolved into an entryway to enjoy the outdoors safely and then sparked her passion for adventure through multiple avenues. 

Sharing her experiences and lessons with others brings April immense joy, always emphasizing the mantra “YOU did that!” to inspire and empower.

Melissa Luna: Superior Hiking Trail thru hike in Minnesota

Melissa thru-hiked 300 miles on the Superior Hiking Trail from the Grand Portage, MN to Duluth, MN over three weeks in September! 

Melissa’s self-identification as an “outdoorsy” individual emerged relatively recently, over the past five years, during which she wholeheartedly embraced this aspect of her personality. Her affinity for outdoor activities such as kayaking, running, camping, and, most recently, backpacking has become a defining part of her life. She is driven by an unwavering commitment to empowering individuals in leading more gratifying lives. 

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Liz Schultz: Red Desert Half Marathon in Wyoming

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In September, Liz ran the Red Desert Half Marathon on Public Lands Day. This race takes place in southeast Wyoming’s Red Desert on the Indigenous lands of the Eastern Shoshone, Crow, and Cheyenne people. 

As Liz says, “After learning how to backpack and rock climb from a supportive group of women and leading girls & gender expansive youth on backcountry trips, I have experienced and witnessed first-hand the transformative effects of being in nature with other women. I want to give back to future generations by raising funds to support programs that provide immersive, nature-based experiences for girls and gender expansive youth.”

Sophia Henze: Kayakpacking the Green River in Utah

In October, Sophia paddled the famous Green River with a few friends. The route wove through Stillwater and Labyrinth Canyons in the Canyonlands National Park, totaling 120 miles on the water.

Being able to be wild in the outdoors as a young woman has been incredibly powerful to Sophia. It taught her about resilience and personal strength, and brought peace and clarity through challenging times. She hopes to support the next generation of young women to experience that same power of outdoor adventure that she did.

Don’t know what kayakpacking is? Check out the article Sophia wrote!

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So, how would YOU “Get Out, Give Back”?

In 2024, Adventure Fundraisers will support youth Mt. Baker expeditions through the Summit Scholarship Foundation and Little Bellas youth mountain biking programming.

Whether you have an idea for a mountaineering project, a cycling trip, or any other adventure in the outdoors, we invite you to be a part of the mission this year and apply to join The Cairn Project as an Ambassador.

Applications are open through February 11th! Go here to learn more and apply to be a 2024 Ambassador.

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Angie Marie

Angie is an author, speaker, and recreational mountain athlete who's fascinated by the intersection of adventure and womanhood.
In 2022, she completed an Adventure Fundraiser for The Cairn Project during which she climbed five Cascade Volcanoes in Oregon and Washington, including Mt. Rainier.
Angie lives in the Columbia River Gorge, where she enjoys ultrarunning, mountaineering, and, recently, learning to whitewater kayak. Find her work at itsangiemarie.com or say hi at instagram.com/angvswild.