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Training: Mollie’s Nipple

Published by Don Gilman on

Looking northwest towards Zion

Climb to the Light seems to be really developing some traction lately. My Facebook friend Chris had reached out to me at the very beginning to see if we could find a way to put something together on film for the project and we finally met up to meet and do some filming.

My original plan had been to go somewhere in Snow Canyon State Park and film there, but after a week of unseasonably wet weather, I knew that we would have to go somewhere that was more of a trail hike in order to be safe, so we agreed to go to Mollie’s Nipple, a steep-sided mountain in nearby Hurricane, Utah. This little mountain is a short hike, but it packs a lot of punch in its short distance: 1,500 feet of elevation gain in a little over a mile. Perfect training for moutain climbing.

The summit cap beautifully back lit

I met Chris at his place (the first time we’d ever met in person) and after a quick run to the store for coffee and pastries, we were on our way.

I’ve hiked this mountain several times over the last four years, and it never disappoints. The trail starts out steep and doesn’t relent until you reach the summit plateau. Chris and I took our time, getting a wide variety of shots as we ascended through cliff bands of limestone. On the way we talked a lot about our lives, but especially about depression and suicide.

Chris checking out shots he took on our trip

There were a number of people hiking the mountain that day. One large group was hunting for fossils (being composed largely of limestone, a former sea floor sediment, the peak is littered with thousands of fossils.) We passed this group about halfway up the mountain and continued on.

The views are superlative. Much of southwestern Utah lies below you, and the east side of the massive Pine Valley Mountains was particularly lovely, with a fresh coating of snow. Below the mountain to the north lies a large slot canyon (called Mollie’s Cleavage, I learned that day) that makes for an impressive sight. Once on the summit plateau, views open up to the east revealing the nearby splendor of Zion National Park and the peaks surrounding Hildale, one of my favorite places around here (see my blog post about my recent hike up Water Canyon Peak.)

Looking up the steep terrain of Mollie’s Nipple

Once on the summit we recorded a series of interviews about why I am doing this campaign and what we are looking for from donors. As we recorded the fossil hunters arrived and then another couple of hikers but they saw what we were doing and respectfully moved to another part of the summit to allow us to record in peace.

On the way down, I asked Chris if he’d be interested in being Climb to the Light’s official filmmaker and he agreed. I’m really excited to add him to the team.

Chris is working on putting together several different videos for different aspects of the campaign, but here is the teaser promo video he created. I’m super happy with it and look forward to seeing more from him in the future! Thanks Chris!


Don Gilman

Don Gilman has been climbing mountains for 20 years, beginning with an ascent of Mt. Thielsen in Oregon in 1998. He has been dealing with severe depression and suicidal ideation since he was nine years old. He also deals with PTSD and anxiety on a daily basis, and uses climbing as a form of therapy. In 2014, he woke up to find his then-13-year-old son had hung himself. Fortunately, his son survived, but that event has become the motivating factor that has made suicide prevention the most important cause in his life.

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