Life is all about mountains for Marybeth Dingledy — not just the kind you scale, but the rugged terrain you have to slog up, over, around or through when life goes sideways.
An accomplished outdoorswoman with a dozen major peaks under her belt, Dingledy has been hit by a car while bicycling (she landed on her face and bounced), suffered a close call with pulmonary edema and been blindsided by both an inherited BRCA2 gene mutation and breast cancer. The bike accident left her with a broken nose, broken teeth and a concussion. The BRCA mutation and cancer diagnosis took her ovaries, her uterus and her breasts.
It’s enough to make anybody curl up in a fetal position, but Dingledy just keeps climbing. As do the unsolicited donations her tenacity inspires. At last count, the 46-year-old Snohomish County Superior Court judge has brought in more than $100,000 for Fred Hutch’s Climb to Fight Breast Cancer, no small feat considering she hasn’t been able to ask anyone for a dime since being appointed to the bench in early 2012.
“For me, it’s all about moving forward and not letting something bring me down,” she said. “It’s about counteracting the bad with the good. I signed up [to climb] Denali the same day I scheduled my hysterectomy because it would motivate me to start working out as soon as that surgery was done. I focused on training to climb Denali instead of feeling sorry for myself.”
On July 18, Marybeth added another notch to her backpack by summiting Mount Shuksan, a stunning alpine peak located in North Cascades National Park.
“It was spectacular,” she said. “Surreal. And there was a wonderful surprise twist.”
We caught up with Marybeth while she was training for Shuksan — and again after the climb — to pick her brain about breast cancer, backpacking and her all-around audacity — and, of course, to learn more about that amazing surprise atop Mount Shuksan.