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Everest 2005: Guys climbing for breast cancer
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Feb 8, 2005 15: 40 EST
Apa Sherpa, world record holder of most Everest summits with 14, will go for 15 this April. American climbers Chuck Huss, Dan Smith, Rob Chang, and John Gray will join him on the “Everest Climbing for a Cure Expedition 2005”.

The expedition is part of an organization dedicated to helping stop one of the world’s deadliest diseases by climbing the world’s tallest mountains.

In an interview with ExWeb, Rob Chang explains what the deal is with the breast cancer, and why this Everest summit could prove that a number of lost battles still can win the war.

“Mr. Everest”

Apa is known as "Mr. Everest" because he has visited the top of the world 14 times in 14 years. He has worked in the mountains as a trekker, porter, guide, and climber for many years. With his vast experience, and gentle but powerful leadership, there is no question why Apa Sherpa will be the Sirdar for this Everest climb. "If anybody can get us to the top, it's Apa,'' Huss said.

"The mountain has won all three times"

But the other members of the expedition, such as Rob Chang and Chuck Huss, will also be bringing extensive Everest knowledge to the table. While this will be Rob’s second attempt, Huss also has had a few experiences on the mountain. “Everest is well known, and to me this is a personal battle I have with the mountain,'' Huss said. "I've engaged it three times, and the mountain has won all three times."

ExWeb caught up with Rob Chang, with a few question before the team leaves for Everest:

ExWeb: How is this climbing expedition help find a cure for cancer?

”Our climb is the start of a project that we hope to maximize exposure to the cancer issue in the United States…Through our Everest ascent, its our intention to commit to a speaking series nationwide to reach a target audience of 100,000 individuals after we return."

"We will be promoting a few key things, one will be 6 important steps to prevent cancer. Another is a breast self exam, BSE, for women, as a large percentage of breast cancer is detected from this--and if through our program, one person finds cancer and is able to take steps to live a longer and healthier life; then our mission to help is met.

"The last is to promote a healthy lifestyle - with an emphasis that this can save your life - through good food choices and some really basic exercise. It's also very unique that we have four male climbers, truly climbing for a female health issue, and it truly states our commitment to those we love in our lives. That is one of the lasting lessons I have learned after my own sister died of cancer in 2001, was to make a positive out of something that can be so sad and difficult.”

How many Sherpas will be on the climb?

“We will have one climbing Sherpa per climber, so for our direct team, we have 4 Sherpas and one head Sherpa - our Sirdar, who happens to be the famed Apa Sherpa…He is our good friend that we have climbed with before and who holds the world record with 14 summits of Everest. It really will be special to climb with Apa especially if he gets his 15th summit.”

This is Chuck Huss's fourth attempt at summiting Everest. What does he hope will be different this time?

“Chuck, our most venerable Everest veteran has had a run of the typical Everest maladies that keeps someone from the summit -- bad weather, helping an injured climber and burning up valuable reserve energy for the summit push and of course, stomach problems high on the mountain."

"From many perspectives, these things have kept a lot of people off the summit, and hopefully in Chuck's case, and our team's, we can avoid these issues of the past and just stay healthy, have some luck with the weather, and not eat or drink something that wipes our stomachs out. I think Chuck would agree with this too.”

Will Cross is attempting to be the first type 1 diabetic to reach the summit. What must he do different because of his illness?

“Will is sharing our permit with us - but our projects are separate. His goal is no less daunting, especially when you take into consideration what he has to do in terms of being on top of things in monitoring and regulating the elements of being a type 1 diabetic."

"He truly has to look at his blood/sugar levels and really stay keyed to his intake and what types of food he eats and things he drinks. Put that together with the challenge of climbing Everest and it just makes it all more of a great accomplishment for him and diabetics who think things like Everest are out of their reach.”

Do any of the climbers have any personal experiences with cancer? If any climber has the disease, what precautions will they be taking?

“None of the climbers have had cancer themselves, but almost all the team members are affected on a direct level. I've lost my older sister to cancer, my father was just diagnosed and treated for late stage prostate cancer this past year…so it really has hit close to home and that's why I've found my calling in creating ClimbingForACure.com and promoting its cause… "

"Team member Dan Smith's father passed away from complications related to prostate cancer. Our Base Camp Manager, Paula Stout, lost her grandmother to breast cancer and her mother and cousins are breast cancer survivors."

"So there is a very strong bond amongst our team members in terms of how cancer has been represented in our lives and how this has forged our team into a strong voice for cancer awareness and prevention and to promote a healthy lifestyle.”

Do you have any previous summits of 8000ers in the team (except for Sherpas)?

“Aside from our Sherpas, Dan, Chuck and I have been on Everest to varying heights but no summits on other 8000ers - yet!

What else should we know about your expedition?

“Well, I really like to emphasize how important it is to our climbing team, that four males are truly dedicated to promoting a critical female health issue such as breast cancer. Recently a friend jokingly quipped, 'four guys climbing for boobs', and she, being a breast cancer survivor found it very fitting that our climbing team has taken the effort and time to promote something that affects people that we love."

"Aside from this deep message, you still have to look out for Dr. Chuck walking on his hands ( I think he's done it on numerous continents and countless expeditions including Everest - I only saw it at Monte Pissis Base Camp at 16,000+ feet) and of course, our ritual gummi bear road show that we present in Base Camp every trip as well.”

Image top to bottom: Apa Sherpa, Rob Chang and Chuck Huss, courtesy of climbingforacure.com.
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