For Immediate Release
July 9, 2009
Contact Ken Malik @ 415-675-5661

Prostate Awareness Foundation Tackles Mt. Cotopaxi, Ecuador
PAF Banner Planted at 19,350-Foot Summit

Quito, Ecuador (June 23, 2009) Four members of the Prostate Awareness Foundation’s Cancer Climbs for Prostate Awareness team made it to the top of the world’s highest active volcano in the early morning hours of Tues., June 23, 2009.

Among the successful climbers: Brad Neal of Austin, TX, who carried the ashes of his deceased brother to the summit of the 19,350-foot Ecuadorian mountain and released them into the thin air. Tim Neal died of prostate cancer in 2008. The Mt. Cotopaxi expedition was dubbed the Tim Neal Memorial Climb.

“I am certain that I would not have made the summit if not for knowing that my brother was with me every step of the way,” said Brad Neal, who participated in previous PAF cancer climbs on Mt. Kilimanjaro, Africa; Mont Blanc, France; and El Misti, Peru.

The 10-man, two-woman team arrived in the capital city of Quito on June 15 to begin their weeklong acclimatization program. They summited nearby Mt. Ruminahui—a 15,500-foot peak named after the famous Inca general—and one day later took shelter in the high altitude Jose Ribas Refuge on Mt. Cotopaxi, where the final summit attempt would be staged. Departing the refuge under the darkness of midnight, the climbers began inching their way up Cotopaxi’s unforgiving glacier. Winds were light and climbing conditions were good. But the steep climbing pitches, which required adept use of ropes, crampons and ice axes, began taking their toll and many team members were forced to return to the refuge.

“Around 17,000 feet I was on a very narrow ledge going uphill and made the mistake of looking to my right with the headlamp and saw nothing but a straight drop,” said Neal, who would be the first to reach Cotopaxi’s famed cone summit. “I had a bit of a panic and started wondering why I was here. I thought about my new little daughter and wife and home and wondered if it was worth the risk.”

Neal’s mood turned brighter as he reached the summit soon after sunrise and peered inside the mountain’s giant crater. He was followed to the top by Darren Paul and Darryl Loewen of British Columbia, and Steve Swindell of Hingham, MA, whose prostate cancer-stricken father was part of the inaugural 2001 climb on Mt. Aconcagua, Argentina.

PAF climbers in various stages of the disease have tackled some of the world’s most challenging mountains without trepidation. Taking part in the Cotopaxi climb was 66-year-old Rick Mohovich of Upper Saddle River, NJ, a 12-year prostate cancer survivor and climb veteran who views each expedition as a new mountain of hope in his struggle against the disease. Mohovich’s daughter, Lynette Fraser of Minnesota, joined him on the Ecuadorian climb. Doug Menelly of Wantagh, NY was climbing for his father, Mario Menelly, who died from prostate cancer in 2004. The younger Menelly was injured in a falling rock incident while climbing Mt. Ruminahui and had to be taken to a Quito hospital by team doctor Tom Hyde. He suffered from a bruised kidney and broken rib.

The Cancer Climbs for Prostate Awareness are supported by the San Francisco-based Prostate Awareness Foundation (, a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization. For more information about future climbs and how you can take part, please call PAF Director Ken Malik at (415) 661-2691 or e-mail