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Mountain Tutus: Breast cancer and life lessons
posted by John : January 17, 2015

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When I'm out adventuring I've been getting one of five different reactions lately.

  1. Daaad!

  2. <Looks away awkwardly>

  3. Nice tutu. (sarcastically)

  4. Nice tutu! (genuinely)

  5. What's the deal with the tutu?

I can understand the first. My kids are young and when I was their age I wouldn't have wanted my father drawing attention to himself by wearing a pink tutu either.

I can understand the second, too. After all, today's society has trained us to look at our phones rather than at other people. I'm guilty of this. I plug in and look down for 30 minutes every morning on the bus rather than talk to the person sitting next to me.

The third tends to be my hiking companions. I think they're just jealous.

The fourth response is a fun one. These are usually fellow adventurers interested in enjoying the company of other people on the trail. We don't have in-depth discussions because it's a comment in passing. I'm heading down, they're heading up or vice versa. They tend to be older and usually women.

The last group are the curious and they include you. They're willing to stop me on the trail or at the summit and question my sanity. "So... Why exactly are you wearing a pink tutu out here?" It's an invitation to engage.

The pink tutu, my mountain tutu to be precise, is my version of a pink ribbon. I wear it on adventures because it's an outward symbol of my commitment to a cause I think is important.

Breast cancer has affected my family in the past and continues to do so today. With so many women in my immediate family, including my wife and daughters, it seems fool-hardy to believe that we will be immune.

Even before I became affiliated with Tubbs Snowshoes as an ambassador we participated in the Romp to Stomp, the Race for the Cure, and the 3Day. So I wear the tutu and post pictures of me in it to raise awareness and raise money to support the cause. (And, who am I kidding, to get a few laughs.)

However, perhaps the most valuable result is that my kids get to see that our family believes in supporting something bigger than ourselves. A lot of our charitable "work" is in the form of donations. They're not as much as we might like, but they are there. The kids never see them, though. What they do see is that every time I'm out on a mountain or in the snow I break out the mountain tutu and make them take a picture. Or they see it hanging in the garage next to my gaiters and raingear, drying after a wet adventure.

Breast cancer may not be ended because I posted a couple of photos of me atop a mountain wearing a tutu, but if the kids understand there's more to care about than themselves it's served its purpose.

You can help fight breast cancer by joining Team Moosefish at the Romp to Stomp on February 7 at Steven's Pass or forming your own team at a Romp in Ontario, Vermont, or Colorado. If you can't make it to an event, consider joining as a Virtual Snowshoer or making a donation.

And of course, feel free to wear your own mountain tutu next time you go adventuring. Just make sure to send me a picture.

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