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May 23, 2013

OHS climbers eye state's highest peak

By Richard Whitby Staff Writer
The Daily Star

---- — Two Oneonta High School seniors plan to climb the state’s highest mountain Friday to raise money for a nonprofit that promotes female empowerment.

Erin Bischoff and Rachel Nader are calling their effort Girls Climbing High, a metaphorical association of empowerment and the physical challenge of climbing Mount Marcy. The money they raise will be donated to Girls Inc. of the Greater Capital Region, which “inspires all girls to be strong, smart and bold through life-changing programs and experiences that help girls navigate gender, economic and social barriers.”

Bischoff and Nader said they were inspired to undertake the effort by English teacher Michael Morelli.

He asked his class to consider “the project you were never assigned in high school but wish you had been,” Nader said.

“We knew that we wanted to do some sort of physical challenge, and Mr. Morelli … led us in the direction of Girls Inc.,” Bischoff said.

“We finally came up with the idea of climbing a mountain, and we decided to do Mount Marcy, the tallest one in the state,” Nader said. “It was the biggest one, so it was the biggest challenge.”

She added that the mountain climb meshed with “the idea of a female empowerment team going along with girls climbing and reaching new heights. That’s where the Girls Climbing High theme came from.”

Bischoff conceded that her experience is limited when it comes to climbing mountains or even hiking.

“I’ve been hiking, but for a couple of hours in a day,” she said. “Nothing on a mountain.”

Both young women said they had good hiking boots and had taken the time to break them in.

“That was pretty important,” Bischoff said. “We’ve been walking around in them.”

Their original fund-raising goal was $1,629 — or $1 for every meter of Marcy’s height. They achieved that by Tuesday afternoon, with about $1,000 raised online and the rest through offline donations, Nader said. But they’re still accepting donations at

“We’ll accept as much as people give,” Nader said.

The young women plan to climb the mountain and descend in a single day.

“It should take between seven and nine hours,” Bischoff said.

Bischoff said she plans to attend SUNY Fredonia in the fall, majoring in international studies, with a minor in public health.

“I’m interested in the Peace Corps, UNICEF and stuff like that,” she said.

Nader said she’ll be attending the Harpur College of Arts and Sciences at Binghamton University but hasn’t chosen a major.

“I’m thinking right now of some sort of social science, but I’m really undecided,” she said.