Archive for Tuesday, July 3, 2001

Dentist to scale peak for charity

Operation Smile provides dental treatment to people in need

July 3, 2001

A Tonganoxie dentist is taking his practice to new heights.

The practice of mountain climbing, that is.

On July 26, Grant Ritchey will join 25 dentists from across the country for a two-day climb up Mount Adams, a 12,276-foot-tall peak in Washington.

Ritchey says the climb is a chance for dentists to get out of the office it's also a fund-raiser for Operation Smile. The charity is a private, non-profit volunteer organization that provides dentistry, reconstructive surgery and related health care to the underprivileged.

Ritchey said he has to collect at least $1,500, and hopes to raise $2,500 to contribute to Operation Smile. In June he mailed 70 letters to people whom he thought would be interested in contributing. A week later, he was well on his way.

"It was amazing," Ritchey said. "I just sent out my marketing letters one week and the next Monday when we opened the mail we had almost $1,500 which is just fantastic."

All of the funds raised go to charity, Grant said.

"None of them fund my trip," he said.

This climb, Ritchey said, will be a new experience for him. He has climbed mountains before, but this time he'll be traversing glaciers.

The team will utilize expert help, Ritchey said.

"We pay a fee, which hires guides," he said, laughing. "The guides go along with the bumbling dentists."

The guides also provide tents and meals. The climbers provide their own gear, including specially made shoes with metal cleats, and sleeping bags.

The team will spend the first night part way up the mountain, and will start climbing at 3 a.m. the next day, climbing in the dark using helmets with headlamps to guide the way.

"We need to get to the summit around noon in order to have time to get back down," Ritchey said.

Although the climb is in July, there's danger from winter-like weather, including blizzards.

"Even in July you can get white-out conditions," Ritchey said.

Ritchey said he sees the upcoming trip to the mountain in Washington as a challenge.

"The team will be using ice axes and will be roped together," he said. "There are certain techniques that we have to learn, such as how to stop sliding down a glacier so you don't crash at the bottom of a mountain."

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