Trying to climb one of the world’s deadliest mountains is a heck of a way for a “life skills coach” to spend the week before Christmas. But Matt Bancroft is not a foolhardy man. He knows all the terrors of New Hampshire’s Mount Washington and is prepared to survive them or avoid them. He is secure enough in his knowledge to convince his girlfriend, mountaineering neophyte Chantelle Honaker, to go along with him.
Mount Washington’s summit elevation of 6,288 feet is hardly daunting, but the weather up there is like Everest’s—subzero temperatures that can turn boiling water into a Popsicle in a matter of seconds, and the mighty wind: It hit a velocity of 231 miles per hour, the highest ever recorded on the earth’s surface, one day in 1934.
“It’s a moderate climb, but the wind can blow you off,” said Bancroft, a native New Englander. “The wind will stop us at the tree line if it’s blowing like crazy.” Knowing that most of the fatalities on the mountain have been caused by hypothermia, he and Honaker will be wrapped in insulated clothing. “People die there in the summer when they don’t have protective clothing and a quick storm makes the temperature drop,” he said. “It snows there year-round.” According to Backpacker Magazine, there have been 137 deaths on the mountain since 1849.
Bancroft prepared for the elements by running in light gear on Santa Barbara’s chilliest nights. Honaker built up her strength by pounding a treadmill with a 20-pound pack on her back. The two of them “climbed everything we could get our hands on between Figueroa Mountain and L.A.” on their days off. They have the necessary ice axes and crampons to climb in ice and snow.
Their method of climbing—helping and encouraging one another—is an extension of their work. As a mentor to physically challenged people for UCP/WORK Inc. (United Cerebral Palsy/Workship Organized for Rehabilitation by the Kiwanis) in Santa Barbara, the 27-year-old Bancroft is like a rescuer who pulls them up with a rope. “He gets fantastic results,” said UCP program director Marty Kinrose. “He’ll do whatever it takes to improve people’s lives.”
Bancroft and Honaker, a part-time aide with UCP/WORK Inc., say that at least 60 percent of the money donated to their cause will go to the nonprofit organization. Bancroft can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at (603) 501-8242. Contributors will be given a link to follow the team’s progress on the slopes.
SPIRIT OF THE SEASON: If there is a basketball fan in your family or if you have a family of fans, here’s a last-minute gift idea: Tickets for UCSB’s game against Long Beach State on Tuesday, December 28, at the Thunderdome. Tipping off at 8 p.m. (it’s being televised on ESPNU), this Big West Conference opener matches the teams predicted to finish at the top of the standings. Because the students are away for the holidays, UCSB is counting on the community to lend vocal support to Orlando Johnson, James Nunnally, and company.
The Gauchos split back-to-back games against nationally ranked teams last week. Any chance that they could sneak up on San Diego State was erased by their 68-62 victory at Nevada-Las Vegas. The forewarned Aztecs scored a resounding 90-64 win that elevated them to No. 7 in the polls. UCSB’s goals of winning the Big West and returning to the NCAA tournament remain intact. Besides single-game tickets, it is offering a package deal for all the conference games. Call 893-8272 (893-UCSB).
The year ends with a feast of college basketball. On December 29 and 30, Westmont College will hold its 35th annual Tom Byron Classic for men and the GSAC Challenge for women’s teams. Alternating between the two tournaments, the game times each day will be 1 p.m., 3 p.m., 5:30 p.m., and 7:30 p.m. On New Year’s Eve, UCSB will host Fresno Pacific in a 2 p.m. game.
AUTUMN HONORS: UCSB’s senior setter Dana Vargas was deemed an All-American in women’s volleyball for the second consecutive year. She received honorable mention along with her teammate, junior hitter Stacey Schmidt. Michael Boxall, senior defender on the Gaucho soccer team, was a third team All-America selection. … Westmont senior Chrissa Trudelle ended her collegiate cross-country career as an NAIA All-American by finishing 29th out of 331 runners at the Nationals. … Dos Pueblos High harrier Sergey Sushchikh realized his goal of making it to the State Championships, where he placed fifth, and then he ran in the Foot Locker Western Regional (10th place) and ultimately the National Championship, where he finished 28th and outran five of the nine runners who bested him in the regional. … SBCC’s fall standouts included freshman soccer forward Jessica Domenichelli (school-record 25 goals) and sophomore volleyball setter Kelsey Soos (conference MVP). n
MORE CAUSES: Aikido Kenkyukai Santa Barbara (AKSB) has broadened its reach in the community by offering lessons in aikido (“the art of peace”) through the Police Activities League and Santa Barbara Council on Alcohol and Drug Abuse. It is within reach of a $20,000 fundraising goal to acquire a larger training space. Head instructor Lia Suzuki said AKSB, in existence since 1999, is modeled after the traditional Japanese dojo: “a place to shape youth into contributing and upstanding members of society and offer further growth and development (both spiritual and physical) to those older.” Donations can be made through this Web site: bit.ly/Aikido2010. … The Santa Barbara Breakers have been invited to be the sole U.S.-based team in the 58th annual Haarlem Basketball Classic, a year-end tournament in the Netherlands. They will be competing against the Dutch and Belgian national teams, as well as clubs from Israel and Kazakhstan. Past MVPs of the Haarlem Classic include Don Ford, a former Santa Barbara Don, Gaucho, and L.A. Laker who is a radio commentator at UCSB games. The Breakers are seeking sponsorships and donations. Call 969-7542 or email email@example.com.