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Pleasanton teen reaches Mount Shasta summit

'If you push yourself and try your hardest, you can achieve anything,' she says

Foothill High's Kylia Van Horn climbed to the summit of Northern California's Mount Shasta for the first time during the Memorial Day weekend.

"I feel great about this accomplishment. This accomplishment will help me overcome more difficult challenges in the future," Van Horn, 15, said in a recent email interview. "I believe that if you push yourself and try your hardest, you can achieve anything."

Van Horn, who completed her freshman year at Foothill last week, reached the 14,179-foot summit accompanied by her father, Kim G. Van Horn, during a 34-hour, 15-minute round-trip May 23 and 24.

Though only developing an interest in mountain-climbing about a year ago, Van Horn pointed to her training in other sports as key to her successful preparation for Mount Shasta.

"The mountaineering experience was not tough physically or emotionally," she said. "I was in condition because of track and Girl Zone (AAU) basketball. I handled the acclimatization process quite well."

The Memorial Day weekend trip featured Van Horn's first attempt climbing on the Avalanche Gulch route and her second time sleeping overnight at the Lake Helen base camp, 10,400 feet.

Van Horn and her father left the trail-head parking lot at 8:30 a.m. on May 23 and reached the base camp around 2:30 p.m. They left Lake Helen at 5:15 the next morning and made it to the summit around 11:15 a.m.

The pair began their descent a half-hour later and arrived at their vehicle in the parking lot at 6:45 p.m.

Mount Shasta has been a family tradition of sorts, with Van Horn's younger brother previously reaching the summit when he was 9 years old with their father -- something Van Horn said motivated her to attempt the climb.

Her interest in mountaineering began last summer while on a family backpacking trip on the north side of Mount Shasta, during which she eclipsed 11,000 feet on the Hotlum Bolam Ridge with her father and younger sister Claire. She said that's when she set her sights on reaching the summit this year.

As for goals going forward, Van Horn said she's focused on academic and athletic success at Foothill.

She played on the freshman basketball team and was a hurdler for track last school year. With her sophomore year on the horizon, Van Horn said she plans to improve her basketball skills to make the junior varsity squad and also earn spots on the cross country and swim teams in 2015-16.

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