About to embark on an ambitious climb up the face of Mount Baker, Rob Rosenblum is wrestling.
The former Miramonte High School student and current Walnut Creek resident isn't worried about his parents, who support his mountaineering dreams.
"My mom is nervous, but I've given her information and she's getting over it," the 27-year old paralegal says. "My dad's really excited. When he was my age, he was a ski bum and took risks."
And he's not anxious about the climb itself.
"This is my first mountaineering experience, so the professional guides that will lead are making me more comfortable. One of the days of the trek is a school day where you practice the skills and learn the basics," he says, sounding confident, but distractedly rubbing his knee and frowning.
A Baker's cyst, inflaming the joint behind the knee and testing his ability to balance training with staying healthy, could rupture -- a possibility he admits "wouldn't be ideal." Still, even a sore knee is not his primary concern.
What makes him squirm, both internally and externally, is the attention he is receiving for his plan to scale Mount Baker's 10,781 feet to raise money for cancer research. The climb will be July 26-28.
The Climb to Fight Breast Cancer expeditions pair professional guides with nine to 10 team members whose efforts raise funds for breast cancer research at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle. Most of the participants
But Rosenblum, a strapping, physically fit, six-foot-plus man who graduated from San Diego State University before spending 11 months hiking in Nepal, has not lost a relative or friend to the disease. He is more reluctant hero than boastful braveheart.
"I stumbled upon CFBC on the Internet," he says almost apologetically. "In the beginning, I was just looking for a guide service and when I saw the added benefits of this one, I thought, why not do it for others, instead of just doing it for yourself?"
Rosenblum is often asked why, if he doesn't have a personal connection with cancer, he is preparing to "battle the elements for the cure."
"For some people, it's worth more to do this if you have been affected," he says. "But just because I don't have a close relative with breast cancer, it doesn't make me less genuine."
With a responsibility to raise a minimum of $3,000, (73 cents of every dollar goes to cancer research,) Rosenblum was split between two goals -- raising money and a personal quest to practice giving without calling attention to self. (He has since reached that money goal).
He attempts to dodge the generosity of his action by emphasizing what he will gain -- a stronger body after training with a 65-pound pack on his back; a notable addition to his résumé; a chance to redefine himself as something other than the self-centered kid he claims to have been.
"I wasn't angry, but empathy was not my strength," he says.
He outlines the details ... hiking 7,000 feet to base camp on day one; diving down mountains and stopping one's fall with an ax on day two; ascending and descending for eight to 12 arduous hours on day three.
In the end, he finds the answer--the comfort zone, if you will--in lessons learned in Nepal.
"When I was there, it was like I came home. The ideas I heard were things I had known, but not encountered in America. I spent a year in Asia and I came out with two things I wanted to do: outdoor challenges and helping people. This is a perfect fit."
Finally, Rosenblum relaxes, at ease with his journey.