FROM FLATLANDER TO CLIMBER…
I was born in Kansas without a mountain in sight. But luckily my grandparents lived in Colorado for the first 25 years of my life so we would often visit during school breaks and summer vacation. I was lucky to have Colorado as a “second home” growing up where I was able to form my love of rugged, high, steep things.
I began hiking/climbing high-elevation mountains around 12 years old on the Colorado Fourteeners and have consistently climbing since then. I fell in love with the outdoors, climbing experience, adventure, and sense of accomplishment when you do reach the summit—but the summit isn’t the ultimate goal (getting home safe is always the primary goal). I have experienced as many fond memories on hikes gone wrong as much as hikes gone well.
I was so excited on Kilimanjaro that moments before we left for the summit, I was shaking uncontrollably and couldn’t keep the tea in my tea cup! I had just three hours of sleep, we had hiked continuously for five days, we were sleep deprived, dirty, and you still couldn’t wipe the smile off my face—my favorite “kid in a candy store” moment from my mountain adventures.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. What’s your post-summit celebration Routine?
Step 1: Flip flops on the feet; car windows down
Step 2: Google search for closest beer and pizza.
Step 3: Eat lots of beer and pizza.
Step 4: Shower
Step 5: More beer
2. So…are you crazy??
Maybe a little. But I love it!
3. Any tips for aspiring climbers, hikers, and adventurers?
Start small and build up. Don’t try and climb things above your comfort or skill level. As cliche as it is: It’s a marathon, not a sprint. A good place to start for gear and techniques includes “Mountaineering: Freedom of the Hills”. I would also recommend classes from your local REI or community college which often put on 1-3 hour programs about specific topics (crampons, ropes, backpacking basics, etc.)
4. Doesn’t this cost a lot? ARE you rich? how will you pay for this?
Unfortunately, yes. And no, I am not rich. In the future I will be soliciting sponsorships and donors to help me cover the costs with this endeavor. Without their support there is no way I could do this on my own.
5. Don’t you have a job? How much time does it take to do this?
Mount Elbrus in Russia a one day hike from its base. It takes about three days to get to Russia. Aconcagua is about three weeks start to finish. Everest is about two months. Between taking paid vacation and unpaid vacation and longer term sabbaticals (in the future) I will be able to get it done with the help of some cooperative employers (hopefully). But it isn’t going to be easy. But most Seven Summits finishers are not professional climbers so they had the same challenges as me with regards to work obligations and balancing family, work, climbing goals, money, etc. Others have proven it can be done!
6. So…are you really capable of doing this?
Yes. None of the Seven Summits are out of my level of technical knowledge as far as the climbing. Although there are skills I will sharpen up on training hikes and classes and with the help of guides on specific mountains. Glaciers and fized ropes will be a new experience.
7. What’s your favorite mountain?
Mount Everest. I don’t really care that it’s the tallest. Something about the experience speaks to me: Life in basecamp, the adventurers that first tried to summit, its climbing history, the sherpa/Nepalese culture…the adventure of it all. I was fascinated by Robert MacFarlane’s “Mountains of the Mind” which traces our love of mountains from fearing them to idolizing them which uses George Mallory’s failed attempts to climb to trace the cultural and historical vlaue of Everest. I am also slightly obsessed with George Mallory anyway, the first person fully committed to summit Everest. His last attempt was in 1924—29 years before Sir Edmund Hilary and Tenzing Norgay successfully accomplished the feat of summiting Everest. It is very possible he made the summit—but did not return alive. That alone keeps me fascinating and interested in the tales that mountain can tell.
8. Don’t most people have to be the first, fastest, oldest/youngest to NOW do this sort of thing?
While there are many amazingly talented, courageous, or downright crazy people garnering attention for all kinds of feats and firsts, I will have to disappoint you now. I will not be the fastest, the youngest, the oldest, the first left-handed person, or the third left-handed person climbing them all blindfolded, or first American born west of the Mississippi on a Tuesday, or first to bungee-jump, ski, snowboard, etc. off the summit of each of the Seven Summits. I am not climbing to set records; I climb for other reasons.
With that said, based on independent research and numerous web searches, I will hold a number of accomplishments and “firsts” after successfully completing the Seven Summits.
• First person born in Kansas, USA (I have spent about 25 of my 31 years living in Kansas);
• First professional, licensed landscape architect;
• One of the youngest Americans;
• One of about 150 Americans and 425 people globally to complete the Seven Summits.
• First Kansas State University graduate (Kansas, USA) GO WILDCATS! Note: It is with utmost difficulty to verify above claims. I have done my best to accurately represent this information after thorough research and fact-checking. I have received significant help from this website and have researched each American on the list. Do not let your support or sponsorship be dictated by these claims. Instead, you should first and foremost support my cause.