An Interview with Steven Reinhold

Editor: You are an Ambassador for the Summit For Someone program, what can you tell us about this program?

Steven Reinhold: The Summit For Someone program is the primary fundraising vehicle for a charity called Big City Mountaineers. Big City Mountaineers (BCM) takes under-served urban youth on wilderness mentoring trips across the country. Their core program involves a week-long wilderness expedition in which five urban teens and five adult mentors embark on an epic backpacking trip. These trips help instill critical life-skills like courage, resiliency and team work into each kid’s persona. The aim is to have the youth incorporate these life-skills learned from “trial by trail” into their own lives, as well as the lives of those surrounding them.

The Summit For Someone program (SFS) allows aspiring mountaineers, of any skill level, to join Mountaineering expeditions on some of the world’s most iconic peaks! In exchange for meeting a fundraising goal, all of which goes towards BCM, climbers are rewarded with an awesome gear package and a guided trip on the mountain of their choice.

Editor: That's truly wonderful. Which mountains have you climbed with SFS?

Steven Reinhold: In 2012 I joined Backpacker Magazine and a team of nearly 50 SFS climbers on Mt. Whitney in southern California. Whitney is the highest peak in the lower 48 and a truly majestic mountain. At first, I thought the Whitney, and its surrounding peaks, looked like a fortress of spires and I had no idea how we would reach the top. Our group split into 5 separate teams and were skillfully led to the top by the incredible guides at Sierra Mountaineering International. Being part of the expedition team on Whitney had a profound impact on all the members of our team. The expedition also had a profound impact on BCM’s cause by raising $280,000 for Big City Mountaineers!

The following year Backpacker decided to host another expedition on Mt. Shasta in northern California. I joined the campaign without hesitation, had a successful fundraising campaign, and was handsomely rewarded with a classic climb on an iconic American peak. Shasta rises abruptly from the black forests of northern Cali; it stands “lonely as God and white as a winter moon.” On the Shasta climb we had the incredible opportunity to climb with Shasta Mountain Guides and a couple athletes from The North Face. Climbing stars Sam Elias and Cedar Wright joined our expedition and made the experience truly memorable. With their help we were able to raise nearly $200,000 to benefit BCM.

Last summer I was given an implausible gift from the directors at BCM. As a thank you for volunteering at the Outdoor Retailer a pair of the directors, Darin Fearday and Jeff Weidman, surprised me with a spot on an upcoming climb of The Grand Teton! The Grand was at the top of my bucket list for years and after the show I headed to Wyoming to embark on an expedition with Jackson Hole Mountain Guides. I joined Graeme Esarey, the president of Industrial Revolutions (a huge supporter of BCM) and the 2013 AMGA Outstanding Guide of the Year award recipient Joey Thompson on this climb. The expedition was more fun than I ever could have imagined and I am truly grateful to Darin and Jeff for their unbelievable generosity. Check out the video from our Grand Teton climb to see exactly what a SFS climb entails!  

Editor: Great video! Can you tell us about your favorite moment from these trips?

Steven Reinhold: Without a doubt my favorite moment from these expeditions came at Base Camp, after climbing Mt. Shasta. Our large team was split into several groups due to wilderness regulations. My team had a great climb and a successful summit. On our way back to the trailhead we passed our next team on their way to base camp. Somewhere along the way it occurred to me that I wanted to spend some quality time with members of that team. We continued down to the town of Shasta for showers and a celebration! Early the next morning I loaded my pack with a case of PBR and headed back up to base camp. When I arrived at camp the team was midway through their own summit bid, the camp was empty so I buried the beer in a nearby snow pack and awaited their return amidst the beauty of Mt. Shasta’s Hidden Valley. I was able to get a GPS message to the team while they were on the summit and let them know they had 24 cold beers waiting on them at camp. As each team member returned I would shake one hand and fill the other with a cold beer. The beverages boosted moral and the group gathered in a large circle as our guides entertained us with tales from their trade. We celebrated for hours and I wish that moment would never have ended.

It’s important to note that the following morning I was gathering the empties into a trash bag when Cedar Wright proved the depth of his larger-than-life character. He adamantly insisted on carrying the empties down since I brought them up! Cedar stuffed the loaded trash bag into next year’s high end, prototype, North Face pack and won my life-long adoration with that act of chivalry!

Editor: It sounds like you guys have a great time with the SFS program! How can others get involved?

Steven Reinhold: The beauty of SFS is that anyone, anywhere of any skill level can join the cause! Truly the only necessary requirement is to possess the desire to make a positive impact on the lives of the youth that Big City Mountaineers works with. I don’t want to say the fundraising takes care of itself, but you will be surprised how willing people are ready to support this cause. People who embark on outdoor adventures tend to be deeply impacted by their journeys. Once you make it clear that your endeavor provides the opportunity for urban youth to be deeply impacted by journeys of their own, then people become eager to contribute.

Editor: Is there anything else you would like to share with us?

Steven Reinhold: This year Backpacker Magazine has decided to host their annual climb on The Grand Teton! They have four groups set up to climb with Editors and photographers from the Magazine. Another super interesting climbing opportunity with SFS is going down in the Wind River Range this summer. Climbing Magazine has teamed up with SFS and Jackson Hole Mountain Guides to offer a 5-day climbing expedition in the Winds. Climbing Magazine’s editor, Shannon Davis will join the expedition and the gear package has been beefed up with some sweet climbing gear from Mammut!

Editor: Congratulations! Thank you, Steven. Good luck with this excellent program.

Steven Reinhold: Thanks for your time, Climb On!

Interview conducted by Vera Kaikobad L. Ac.
Editor of the Facebook Page: 'An Interview With'.
Editor-in-Chief of 
Interview © Vera Kaikobad L. Ac.
All images © used with Steven's permission.

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Thank you!

A message from Steven Reinhold

The world has recently become fascinated with the idea of a “Challenge” for the sake of charity. Through the Summit For someone program outdoor enthusiasts have the unique opportunity to attempt a truly life changing “Challenge” of their own while raising funds for a worthy cause. In exchange for meeting their fundraising goals every Summit For Someone (SFS) climber is rewarded with a guided expedition on one of twenty iconic mountains as well as a great gear package from our sponsors. The money raised from our climbers directly funds the Big City Mountaineers program which takes underserved urban youth on wilderness mentoring trips across the country. Last year, with the help of 150 SFS climbers, we were able to take over 1,500 kids on life changing week long trips. Our core program consists of five kids and five adult mentors embarking on a week-long high adventure wilderness expedition.

We also offer a week-long canoe outing on the infamous Boundary Waters Canoe Area! Kids are challenged physically and mentally as they navigate through the rigors of the outdoors on each trip under the care of positive adult mentors. With over 30 different routes on the world’s most famous mountains the SFS program has the right challenge for any level climber, mountaineer or complete beginner. Join us on The Grand Teton next year or any of our other climbs for the adventure of your life time and a chance to build up your “karma account.”

For more information please check out our websites or hit me up on Facebook or Twitter.


Steven Reinhold

Sam Elias (Left) and Steven Reinhold (Right) on Mt. Shasta

Photo Credit: Steven Reinhold

On the Cover: Steven Reinhold

Summit For Someone