If all goes well, by nightfall Pat Connolly will have been to the mountaintop — and back.

Connolly, a fourth-grade teacher at Portland’s Longfellow Elementary School, planned to lead 21 climbers up Mount Washington today for this year’s Climb for Cancer Care fundraiser.

Connolly started the effort five years ago to honor his uncle, “Rockin’” Rod Scribner, who was a salesman for Pine State Trading Co. by day and a music-loving DJ by night.

Scribner died in 2005 from bladder cancer, Connolly said.

Connolly said he and his family knew that music would help keep Scribner’s and their spirits up, but they needed permission to play it in his room in the Gibson Pavilion, where cancer patients stay at Maine Medical Center.

So it came to Connolly, while he was climbing Mount Washington a few days after his uncle’s death, that he should do something to help other families who might see music as therapeutic for patients and their family members.

He lined up sponsors and climbed Mount Hood in Oregon, raising the first batch of money, which went to buy CD players and CDs for rooms in the Gibson Pavilion.

The next year, he recruited other climbers and expanded the fundraising. Since then, Climb for Cancer Care groups have scaled Mount Hood and Mount Rainier in Washington, raising money to buy DVDs and DVD players, coffee makers and other amenities for Gibson Pavilion rooms.

The fundraising took a break one year for Connolly to get married. He wanted this year’s climb to be close to home because his wife is pregnant with the couple’s second child.

The first climbs raised nearly $79,000, and Connolly expects to add $10,000 from this year’s climb.

He initially wanted to raise a total of $100,000. Now that he’s within sight of that goal, he has decided he’ll keep climbing as long as he can raise money.

As far as mountain climbing goes, Connolly admits that Mount Washington, New England’s tallest mountain, is not in the same league as Hood or Rainier.

“But in terms of sheer weather, it’s its own separate beast,” Connolly said.

The forecast calls for wind chills of 30 below zero at the summit today.

“It’s the cause, not the climb,” he said.

To learn more about Climb for Cancer Care, go to: https://fundraising.mmc.org/NetCommunity/SSLPage. aspx?pid=263.

Staff Writer Edward D. Murphy can be contacted at 791-6465 or at: [email protected]