Climbing mountains for mariners

The rugged terrain and spectacular peaks of western Maine will be the testing ground for about 120 hikers from Sept. 19-22 as they huff and puff their way to a better understanding of similar physical challenges faced by mariners at sea.

Organized as a fundraiser by the Seaman’s Church Institute (SCI) in New York, the charity endurance test will cover 25 miles of terrain and 10,000′ of ascent up five of Maine’s most challenging mountain trails at Burnt, Sugarloaf, Spaulding, Baker and Jordan mountains.

While the SCI Mountain Challenge will involve lots of sweat equity and heart pumping on land, the event is meant to parallel many of the challenges faced daily by U.S. mariners, including extreme weather, physical endurance and isolation, according to SCI organizers.

“Everyday mariners push themselves in a race against time to deliver the world’s commerce,” SCI says on its website. The U.S. event — the first ever  — mirrors a similar challenge held annually by Seafarers UK, which sends competitors up 24 peaks and involves 20,000′ of climbing.

The event is partly sponsored by Cargill and is expected to attract about 120 participants, mostly business executives involved in global shipping. Two teams from The American Waterways Operators will be participating. Ingram Barge and American Commercial Lines are also sending teams.

SCI will award prizes based on cumulative times and philanthropic dollars raised to support mariners.

Contributions will finance SCI activities, such as chaplain visits to vessels, including a program on inland vessels, and legal services for mariners.

Time is running short, but there is still time to form a team.

You can sponsor the AWO team, which so far has raised about $10,300 of its $100,000 goal, by contacting Ann McCulloch at

This is a great initiative for a great cause. Try to help by climbing or contributing!



About the author

Pamela Glass

Pamela Glass is the Washington, D.C., correspondent for WorkBoat. She reports on the decisions and deliberations of congressional committees and federal agencies that affect the maritime industry, including the Coast Guard, U.S. Maritime Administration and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Prior to coming to WorkBoat, she covered coastal, oceans and maritime industry news for 15 years for newspapers in coastal areas of Massachusetts and Michigan for Ottaway News Service, a division of the Dow Jones Company. She began her newspaper career at the New Bedford (Mass.) Standard-Times. A native of Massachusetts, she is a 1978 graduate of Wesleyan University (Conn.). She currently resides in Potomac, Md.

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