In July 2006 I am planning to take part in the first Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center Climb of Mount Elbrus in the Caucasus in Russia to raise money to help to fight cancer.

I shall once again be relying on your generousity in giving to this very worthwhile cause.

I shall keep you posted with my preparations and progress on the climb on this web site.

From the Originally published on: Friday, March 10, 2006

" In 2004, Laurie Normandeau, a personal trainer and athlete, buoyed by the strength of those she was raising money for, reached the summit of Africa's Mount Kilimanjaro with the Climb to Fight Breast Cancer Team.

For that trip, she raised $21,000, $16,000 of which went to the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, Washington.

Two years later, Normandeau, who works at the Northampton Athletic Club and also at The Mountain Goat on Main Street in Northampton, is at it again, this time hoping to ascend Mount Elbrus, in Russia. Elbrus, at 18,500 feet, is Europe's tallest peak, located near the border of Russia and breakaway nation Georgia.

She is hoping to once again raise at least $10,000 to go to breast cancer research, and is holding a fundraiser March 21, at the Garden House in Look Park, starting at 6 p.m., to help meet her goal with a silent auction featuring donated goods from local merchants

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Earlier this month, Normandeau said she had already raised approximately $8,000, nearing her minimum donation goal of $10,000.

''The interest is there for sure,'' said Normandeau, who lives in Cummington. ''People's hearts are definitely in it."

Normandeau talked about having to come up with additional money this time around, as the travel and climbing experience are so different.

Elbrus, unlike Kilimanjaro, has a year-round snow cap, and is pocked with ice fields and crevasses.

''There are additional costs,'' said Normandeau, who must also take some classes at the Glacial Mountaineering School, in the Cascades in Washington. There she'll learn the art of stopping if she starts to slide down icy slopes, and what to do if she or someone in her party falls down a crevasse.

Normandeau, though, was confident the money would be raised. ''I have full faith that it's going to happen.''

The climber added that this time around she wasn't reinventing the wheel and having to educate people as to what she was doing. ''The climbs are getting more exposure now. I'm not starting from scratch.''

The fundraiser will feature Carsten Braun, a geoscientist from UMass Amherst; who will speak about climbing and his experience gathering ice cores from glaciers around the world.

A.J. LaFleur, who owns The Mountain Goat, will display older alpine mountain-climbing equipment and talk about advances made in the field, showing off new gear.

The evening will be emceed by Northampton brewer Chris O'Connell, whose brewery will also be serving refreshments.

The silent auction will feature goods and services donated by Pioneer Valley businesses. "