South Bay climber’s third Denali summit try benefits climber Mark Parella


by Garth Meyer

It was etched on a desk in a junior high home economics class in Holden, Mass.

It was 1993 and the desks were old then.

He said, “Live to dream, but it’s a dream to live.”

Mark Parella was a seventh grader assigned to sit in the office this fall.

He is now 42 and is traveling to Anchorage, Alaska on June 1 with a group of Nepalese climbers to climb Denali, marking the 75th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the United States and Nepal – while raising funds for Cancer Support Community South Bay.

“We just want to try to get as much as we can,” said Parella, a five-year Navy veteran and resident of Hermosa Beach since 2008. is on.”

This is her fifth Climb Against Cancer, which has already raised $13,162.

Parella works as an agent for the Department of Homeland Security, based in El Segundo.

His first major mountain was Mount Whitney in 2012. Previous peaks in his benefit schedule were Denali twice (did not summit), Mount Everest in 2019 and (Mount) Ama Dablam in Nepal the last year.

This year is a third try at Denali. The first two were weather-scratched, for a mountain above the Arctic Circle known for its storms coming in from the Bering Strait.

“We never had a window at the top,” Parella said.

Raised in Massachusetts – Holden is a suburb of Worcester – he hiked, camped and climbed out of town at Mount Wachusett at an elevation of 1,996 feet.

“It’s a mountain, six feet,” Parella said, referring to a minimum qualifying height for a mountain.

He then progressed to the Presidential Range in New Hampshire’s White Mountains.

Now embarking on a major climb every year, he chose Cancer Support Community South Bay as his beneficiary because of a former fiancé, who was diagnosed with leukemia in 2016. She and Parella found help in this then called Cancer Support Community Redondo Beach, located at the Redondo Beach Pier.

“It gave us a lot of hope – that light at the end of the tunnel that we needed,” he said. “That really helped.”

She recovered. The relationship did not last.

“And I wanted to pay it forward. The only thing I know really well is climbing,” Parella said. “Climbing can be seen as selfish. I didn’t want everyone in climbing to be portrayed like that. I wanted to use it to give back to society in some way.

Mark Parella at a Donor Appreciation Open House for the South Bay Cancer Support Community, April 22. Formerly based at the Redondo Beach Pier since 1987, the organization moved to Torrance earlier this year. Photo by Tiffany Lin

Now he is training.

Last week it was the Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook stairs in Culver City – two hours up and down with a 35-pound weight vest. Tuesday was two hours up the stairs in the five-story parking lot at Parella’s workplace, with 82 pounds of weight in his (climbing) backpack.

Two to three times a week, he drags a tire across the beach from Hermosa Pier to Manhattan Pier and back again. He imitates pulling a sled on a glacier.

It takes him an hour.

What makes a climber?

“When you’re up there and really feeling free,” Parella said.

Cancer Support Community South Bay, in its 35th year, with its new name, is now located in Torrance. They helped 23,000 patients. The organization offers free classes, programs and support services to anyone affected by cancer, whether they are patients or loved ones.

“I think he’s wonderful; that he continues to live these adventures and that he makes us the beneficiary of them. We are so grateful,” said Theresa Plakos, Public Relations Representative for Cancer Support Community South Bay. “We can’t thank him enough for making a difference in the lives of our participants.

He flies away on May 31 for Anchorage.

Once the nine-man climbing team is assembled and supplies are prepared, an air taxi takes them to base camp, from where they will have a 21-day supply of food.

In good weather, it may take 14-16 days to reach and establish Camp Four at 17,000 feet, summit on the eighth or ninth day and descend with their gear.

“I learned that this mountain doesn’t give you anything you want,” Parella said.

What if it was day 21 and the forecast for the next day looked great?

“We’re going,” Parella said.

Day 22, 23, 24?

” We will visit you. I will win for sure,” Parella said. “I’m sure everyone will want to go.”

One of them is Jangbu Sherpa, a veteran of the 17 summits of Mount Everest and who claims the record for the time spent at the summit without a shirt (four minutes, 40 seconds).

A dream to live, while someone scratched in this office. Emergency room


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