Young guns for Everest and the 7 summits: Part III of III
11:14 a.m. EST Feb 16, 2004
Today in the final installment of ExplorersWeb’s interview with Dan Lochner, he talks about his recent experience on Aconcagua as well as his training regiment for the upcoming Everest expedition.
Dan has completed 5 of the 7 seven summits, with only Everest and Vinson to go. If he makes both on time, (this spring and fall) he'll be about 22 years and 6 months old – potentially the youngest to complete all seven.
Coincidentally, there’s another young guy going for the 7 seven summits who lives just down the road, 22 year old Britton Keeshan – he’s only got Everest left. The current record for the youngest 7 summiter belongs to Japanese climber Atsushi Yamada, who completed the feat at 23 years, 9 days. Both Britton and Dan are on target to break the current record and should they make their next peaks as planned it'll be very close to see who will become the youngest.
Part three: Alone on Aconcagua, training for Everest
ExWeb: Starting last May, you ticked off Denali, Elbrus, Kili, Kosciuszko, and then Aconcagua this past January. That one you had to go for twice after not making it in the fall. What was it like going back to South America do that one by yourself?
Dan: I happily returned to Argentina to climb Aconcagua again. Argentina is a beautiful country with very nice people and I would enjoy returning again. Since I had already climbed on the mountain, I felt at ease returning to solo the mountain. I, however, hoped that the weather would be better. While on Aconcagua in November, the weather experienced at Camp Two on the Polish Glacier route was horrible, with recorded winds in excess of one hundred miles per hour. Needless to say, my Bibler tent took a beating but held up great.
Here I gained firsthand experience of the Viento Blancho. Although I didn't reach the summit this time, I definitely earned every bit, as we did not see one other person during the entire climb, until returning to Plaza Argentina Base Camp. Familiar with Aconcagua from my November climb, I felt more confident returning in January, even though I was returning solo. To ease my curiosity of the other side of the mountain and to shot new photographs, I chose to take the Normal route.
My first summit attempt was on Jan 23, in which I climbed to approximately 22,500ft before making the decision to turn back. It heavily snowed the night before so I was breaking trail all the way toward the summit and by the time I reached 22,500ft, it started snowing and the clouds began to roll in.
Breaking trail really tired me out and I was really feeling the affects of the altitude so turning back was a wise decision although extremely frustrating. I began to feel cursed, as this is very similar to what occurred in November. During the next two days, I rested at high camp (Berlin; 19,000ft) waiting for the weather to clear and watched many expeditions retreat, frustrated with the weather and forgoing their summit attempt.
Two days later the weather cleared up so I prepared to go for the summit the next morning. I woke up at 4:00am, had breakfast and cooked three liters of water, hitting the trail by 6am. As I left high camp, the sky was perfectly clear and the temperature read minus twenty-five Celsius. The first two hours were the worst as my hands and feet were constantly freezing, however by 9am the sun was shinning and my body began to warm up. The climb was considerably easier this day and I attribute this to my failed attempt three days earlier, allowing me to acclimatize to the higher altitude.
By approximately 3:30pm, I reached the summit. I celebrated by calling my family and friends on my Iridium phone to tell them I had reached the summit, finally. The descent was interesting though, as I was involved in a rescue of a Korean climber who had fallen and badly cut his forehead after striking a rock. For some reason, his friends didn't help him so a mountain guide, a climber I met on the mountain and myself assisted in carrying him down to where help was waiting. All in all, I am thrilled to be done with Aconcagua!
ExWeb: Out of all the climbs within the last year, what was the most difficult to do?
Dan: I found Denali to be the most difficult due to its bitter weather and tuff days, however it was my most rewarding climb.
ExWeb: What's training like for your upcoming Everest climb between now and when you take off in March?
Dan: For training, I am running 6-7 miles a day on varying terrain for four days straight, with one or two days of rest in between. I am also going to the gym four days a week to work my upper body and lower body when it is not in pain from running. My plan is not to train too much that I become injured but to build up a high level of endurance and stamina. In conjunction with my training, I have boosted my daily calorie intake to add some heavy weight in anticipation of weight loss while on Everest.
ExWeb: What are your biggest concerns about the climb?
Dan: My greatest concern in regard to Mount Everest is the weather; being a factor I have no control over. I am equally concerned about how my body will react above 7000 meters, the highest approximate height I have achieved to date while on Aconcagua.
So Dan turns 22 in May and could potentially be 22 years and 6 or 7 months at the completion of his 7 summits – Vinson is typically summited in December or January, but possibly as early as November. A local newspaper has Britton Keeshan, “eclipsing the previous record by 6 months,” if he makes it. If you do that math, that means if Britton makes it this May on Everest, he’ll be roughly 22 years and 6 months old. It’ll be very close to see who will become the youngest to summit all 7.
Image of Dan courtesy of Oath7.com.