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Boise man battling terminal cancer climbs Idaho's tallest peak for his bucket list

"He really had a lot of determination and fight going into this, more than I have ever experienced anybody has before," Clint Barg said.

BOISE, Idaho — Bill Powlishen is a hospice patient with terminal pancreatic cancer and his wish before he passes was climbing to the top of Idaho's tallest peak, Mount Borah.

"I never explored out in eastern Idaho, so this is my bucket list," Powlishen said.

Powlishen has trouble speaking but you don't need to hear him to see his determination.

"He is so encouraging and inspirational for all of us," Jim Schmidt, a chaplain with hospice, said. "He may not think that himself, but he really is."

Several months ago, Schmidt asked Powlishen if there was anything he wanted to cross off his bucket list.

"So, when I asked this of Bill, of what his goal was in life, based on he has a terminal illness I was not expecting to hear him say he wanted to climb Mount Borah but I said let’s see what we can do and let’s make it happen," Schmidt said. "This is the first time in 14 years of hospice I have had this kind of request."

Climbing Idaho's tallest peak is a challenge for even the most experienced hikers.

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"He knows the challenges and I think that is part of the inspiration for our team is he knows it’s a difficult thing he is trying," Schmidt said.

To orchestrate the climb, it took several months of planning. Eventually, a team of expert hikers and nurses were assembled to help Powlishen make the journey.

"It was a while back that we didn't know for sure health-wise he was going to make it really," Schmidt said.

They arrived at the trailhead at 5:30 a.m. Friday morning and began the steep trek upward.

"He really had a lot of determination and fight going into this, more than I have ever experienced anybody have before," Clint Barg, who was tasked with leading the hike, said. "He led us up the mountain honestly."

The team made it as far as Chicken Out Ridge, just 1,200 feet shy of their goal.

"Chicken Out Ridge sits at about 11,400 feet and he made it to that spot and at that point, a lot of thunderstorms were starting to blow in and that is really not a place you want to be when there is lightning," Barg said.

While Powlishen didn’t quite make it to the top, his journey was an inspiration for everyone who helped along the way.

"It's about living until we die, and this is what Bill is doing he is living, he's not just rolling over in his bed," Schmidt said.

"He certainly inspired me in many ways," Barg said. "The amount of determination and fight and strength that he displayed on this entire hike, going up and coming down is hard to describe. "It helped paint a better picture of what is important and what's not important."

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