Teton Inspiration

"Ballet is like rock climbing on a flat surface."
            -Bill Liberatore, Mountain Guide

team of climbers in show A team of men and women from all over the United States gathers at the base of the Grand Teton to fight breast cancer. Looking up at the towering peak that straddles the Idaho/Wyoming border, it's easy to feel intimidated and start to worry about the adventure ahead. From that vantage point, staring straight up more than 13,000 feet, it's particularly daunting if you've never climbed a mountain. And if you know you're going to try in three days.

Veteran mountain guide Cara Liberatore put this trip together. A decade after her mother died she's leading this team on an expedition of adventure and hope. "Ten years ago I lost my mum to breast cancer. At that time I made a promise to do something to fight this disease."

rock climberLiberatore connected with Expedition Inspiration based in Ketchum, Idaho. It's a non-profit organization which sponsors and coordinates mountain adventures to raise money and awareness for breast cancer research.

Idaho Public Television captures the heart and strength of the team in "Teton Inspiration," airing Thursday February 13 and repeating Sunday February 16.

Producer Jim Peck and Videographer Alan Austin followed the team every step of the way on this remarkable journey. "It was the most physically and mentally challenging shoot of my life," says Peck. "Not only did we have to learn to climb, tie ropes and then attempt an assault on the Grand Teton, we had to do it while carrying heavy camera gear and trying to produce a TV show!"

jim williamsNeither Peck nor Austin had ever climbed anything higher than a stepstool. And neither ever had the desire. They started from scratch, learning from experts at Exum Mountain Guides in Grand Teton National Park. Their teacher, Jim Williams, is a veteran of numerous Everest climbs and was the leader of the 1989 expedition to the South Pole. He is also the first person to have successfully guided all "Seven Summits" in less than one year.

The team on this expedition range in age from 17 to 59. What began as a group of strangers and first time climbers soon evolved into a close-knit band of fellow adventurers.

some of climbers"I have been on a lot of trips, but I have never seen a group of strangers come together so quickly and so tightly," says Dr. Jerry Maida of Florida.

This is a team that set out to do something, but found even more than they bargained for. Watch as they literally learn the ropes in the first uneasy days of rock climbing school and follow them up the side of the Grand Teton.

For Cara Liberatore this is an emotional end to a long journey of her own. For years she tried to make this climb a reality. Now, standing at the trailhead leading to the top, she's brimming with her usual enthusiasm. "I can't believe it, I can't believe we're actually here. Going up the Grand Teton!"

prayer flagsTeam members carry traditional prayer flags used to pay homage and show respect to the mountain gods. Emblazoned on the flags they carry are names of cancer victims and survivors. Their goal is to fly them high above Idaho and Wyoming in honor of fallen friends, lost loved ones and admired survivors.

"I have a flag with my mum's name on it." For Cara, carrying the flag is a bit like carrying her mother with her, each step of the way, up the mountain. "I know she'd be proud."

Her husband Bill is one of the guides on this trip. "Cara always said she was going to do something for her mom. And when she says she's going to do something, she will do it. And it'll be big."

view from mountainsIn addition to the personal cost of the trip, team members held fundraisers to come up with the extra $2500.00 they each need to contribute to the cause. "I hate having to ask for money, but I know it's for such a good cause," says Stacey Gibson from Ocala, Florida. "But it was actually pretty easy. I was amazed to find out how many people have been personally touched by breast cancer."

"Teton Inspiration" is part adventure tale, part travel essay and part human- interest story. Join us on this expedition and see how this kind of event does so much for those touched by the insidious disease of breast cancer.

To purchase a videotape of the program, visit our video sales website
or call us at 1-877-224-7200.

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