Off the Hill with Tricia Swenson: Climb for Literacy brings reading to new levels | VailDaily.com

Off the Hill with Tricia Swenson: Climb for Literacy brings reading to new levels

Not much stands in the way of Ellen Miller, who is a legend in the international mountaineering world.

Miller was the first American woman to climb Mount Everest along both the northern and southern routes. The same dedication and passion for climbing is what drives her to help promote literacy in Eagle County.

Since 2008, Miller has teamed up with the Vail Athletic Club as well as kids on their climbing team to raise money for Climb for Literacy. This year's beneficiaries are The Literacy Project of Eagle County and Vail Pet Partners Reading Education Assistance Dogs program.

During the early years of the event, Miller would send funds to organizations in Nepal to help literacy halfway across the world.

"I wanted to give back to the wonderful people and communities in Nepal who gave so much to me, but then I realized that there's a big need regarding literacy right here in Eagle County," Miller said.

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For over 30 years, The Literacy Project of Eagle County has been helping adults and children acquire English reading and speaking skills to help them thrive in our community.

Vail Pet Partners Reading Education Assistance Dogs are brought in to help kids relax when they read. These dogs don't judge or correct, they just listen. By having an impartial listener, kids build confidence and improve their reading ability.

HOW IT WORKS

Climb for Literacy is held at the Vail Athletic Club's climbing wall, which presents all sorts of routes and challenges for the young athletes. The climbing teams consist of grade school to high school-aged kids who will sometimes climb 6,000 vertical feet during the event to earn money for charity.

Kids can be sponsored in two ways, by vertical feet climbed or a flat rate. Adults can get into the action, too. Miller leads her outdoor fitness groups on climbs at nearby mountains.

"We don't spend any money to put on this event, so all the money raised goes to the charities. In the past, we've raised anything from $6,000 to $10,000 and that goes a long way for these nonprofits," Miller said.