COEUR d’ALENE — Hiking up and down Canfield Mountain 16 and a half times for suicide awareness, Aaron Rittenour was not alone.
"It was 54 miles," he said Monday. "There were so many people who showed up on the mountain, just strangers who were there to show support. It was so cool."
Rittenour started his 29029 Challenge — a challenge called "Everesting," where people hike or bike the equivalent of the elevation of Mount Everest from sea level — at 5 a.m. Sunday. He pushed through until 9 a.m. Monday, stopping only for a 30-minute nap at 3 a.m.
"I was shocked at how well my body took it," the Rathdrum athlete said Monday. “The biggest thing was the fatigue from lack of sleep. Overall, it went really well. I was so happy."
Rittenour, an athlete from Rathdrum, knows Canfield Mountain well. He can make it to the top in about 32 minutes and back down in half that time. He kept each jaunt to about an hour and 15 or 20 minutes, with the longest taking him an hour and 45 minutes.
He created his version of the 29029 "Everesting" Challenge to shine some light on the suicide epidemic in his community. He lost a close friend to suicide in February 2017, and then his uncle about six months ago.
"It’s like every single month I know somebody that’s committing suicide, and countless others who are attempting to commit suicide,” Rittenour said in a May 23 Press article. “At that point, I was just like, ‘This is just insanity.'"
Having so many experiences with suicide, Rittenour wanted to do something to raise awareness and funds for the Northern Idaho Crisis Center. It’s a local, state-funded crisis center that helps those experiencing behavioral health or substance abuse issues.
At press time, Rittenour did not have the total amount of funds raised, but plans to report them as soon as he gets the final numbers.
"I just want the conversation to keep going," Rittenour said. "I'm really not sure how much donations came into the crisis center through this, but even if they didn't get a ton of donations, at least more people know about the crisis center."