Franconia, NH—While most people would be content to climb a mountain once and then check it off their list, Ian Dowling’s motivations are far different. Dowling, 48, has committed himself to climbing the same mountain every day for a year to raise funds for Adaptive Sports Partners of the North Country.
Dowling’s decision to begin this daily ritual was the result of a number of factors; this fall, both of his kids left for college, and being single, he found himself with more time on his hands. Dwelling says he was looking for a challenge.
“I figured, ‘What the heck?’” he says. “Why not try and achieve something more substantial?”
Cannon Mountain is a convenient 15 minutes from his house and his season pass to the ski area would allow him to make his descent on skis in the winter. When he started in September, and the fall air made for an enjoyable trail run, he was in trail running shoes, making it to the 2,200-foot summit in about half an hour. He also made the hike carrying a downhill mountain bike to ride back down the trail.
Since September, temperatures have plummeted to temperatures well below freezing, and the mountain has accumulated 73 inches of snow to date. Lately, Dowling skins to the top or relies on snowshoes.
He also decided to use this hobby as a means for fundraising. While working as a volunteer with the Adaptive Sports organization, he observed a need for equipment for their programming.
“I figured if I’m doing something like this, then I might as well raise money for them so they can get some better equipment,” he says.
Dowling’s goal is to raise $10,000 for the ASPNC, but he waited until he had logged over 100 ascents before he went public with his plans.
“I waited so people would think I was legitimate,” he says. “I think if I came out and told people that I’m going to climb Cannon Mountain every day for a year and I’m going to start today, I don’t think people would believe me,” he says.
He’s faithfully held himself to that commitment and has raised more than $400 so far. But as the conditions have become more rugged and the ascent takes more time, juggling the daily hike with the responsibilities of a full-time job has proven more difficult. Dowling works as a nuclear medicine technologist and drives a mobile nuclear medicine unit between five different hospitals in northern New Hampshire, leaving him enough time to complete the hike either before or after work, in the dark.
On top of that, he’s also raising a puppy at home.
He says he’s finally realized what he’s gotten himself into.
“It’s proving to be a lot harder than I thought,” he says.
But like all tough ascents, Dowling says the descents have been rewarding, whether it is on mountain bike, skis, or his latest method, a shovel that he has converted into a sled. While the hike up takes about an hour in the winter, he can ride down on his shovel in a record time of 8 minutes.
“It’s adventurous,” he says. “I’ve had to start wearing a helmet.”
To donate, visit crowdrise.com/TouchTheTower/fundraiser/iandowling