Trevor Stuart knows firsthand that climbing mountains is dangerous, but not as dangerous as living with domestic violence.
The Lethbridge, Alberta realtor grew up in an abusive home, and as an adult, he's made it his mission to raise money and awareness for the YWCA Harbour House, the local women's emergency shelter. He's bringing attention to the cause by scaling some of the world's highest mountains.
Stuart, 45, says that climbing mountains is the perfect metaphor for the fight against domestic violence — he calls his journey the "Climb to End Family Violence."
Now, he's gearing up for his biggest climb yet — Mount Everest.
"I've taken on six big peaks in the world for the YWCA, and this is my finale, Everest. And this is going to be a real wild ride," Stuart told CBC News.
Domestic violence in Alberta claimed more lives than Everest last year
According to Stuart and the YWCA, 19 people died last year attempting to climb Everest. In the same span of time, 43 women in Alberta — out of 153 women in Canada — were killed by domestic violence.
“I was raised in a home where domestic violence was rampant. When I was little, I was so scared, confused, and wished someone would help. My father told our family if we reported the violence to the police that he would harm or kill us; so we kept quiet," Stuart wrote on the YWCA website.
"I didn’t know a Harbour House existed anywhere. I wish I had known then, but that’s behind me now. I want to help women and children experience freedom by learning that there is a place to go for them."
I want to help women and children experience freedom by learning that there is a place to go for them."
Stuart pays for his climbs out of his own pocket and with the support of sponsors. As of Tuesday, he has raised over $17,000 for the Lethbridge YWCA Harbour House.
The funding is much-needed in Lethbridge. In 2015, over 1,200 women and children were turned away from the Harbour House as beds were full. The YWCA housed 535 women and children, and helped another 1,468 women and 1,599 children access services.
Stuart said he'll be using the cause to motivate him every step of the way.
He leaves for Everest at the end of March, where he'll attempt to scale the mountain's north path with two sherpas. The difficult ascent could take between 40 and 60 days.
"I've really had to think about mind over matter, and the cause that I'm climbing for." Stuart said in an interview with Global News.
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