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Young guns for Everest and the 7 summits: Part I of III
17:23 p.m. EST Feb 13, 2004
This year there are two young folks going for Everest as part of their quest for the seven summits. Today we’re publishing part one of an interview with Dan Lochner, a 21 year old who plans to have the seven summits completed this fall by the time he’s turned 22 (Dan’s got Everest and Vinson to go). 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 are on target to break the current record.

So Dan turns 22 in May and could potentially be 22 years and 7 months at the completion of his 7 summits – Vinson is typically summited in December or January. 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 becomes the youngest to summit all 7.

An ExplorersWeb interview with Dan Lochner:
Today, part one: The first climbs, the Seven Summits, Everest and age
Sunday, part two: The funds, the family and sailing to Vinson
Monday, part three: Alone on Aconcagua, training for Everest

Part one: The first climbs, the Seven Summits, Everest and age

ExWeb: Dan, how'd you get into this at such a young age? You've mentioned that in the beginning you'd done some climbing in the Northeast?

Dan: I began rock climbing in the Northeast while on a summer camp back in junior high. After, I climbed Mount Blue in Maine, a small 3,000ft peak I believe, with my Father and really enjoyed it. However, that was about the extent of my climbing experience other than climbing practically every forest tower in Minnesota while camping and growing up there.. So knowing very little about mountaineering, I enrolled in a weeklong mountaineering course in the Alaskan range after my spring semester to learn the intricacies of mountaineering.

One week later, after I finished my training, I joined a commercial expedition attempting the summit of Denali. After three weeks, I reached the summit. Since Denali, I have taken my senior year off from the University of Richmond and have been training and climbing the remaining six peaks of the Seven Summits. To date, I have climbed five; Denali, Aconcagua, Elbrus, Kilimanjaro, and Kosciuszko. Since Denali, I have personally been financially planning and guiding each expedition on my own and/or with my climbing partner.

ExWeb: Why the Seven Summits?

Dan: I became interested in the Seven Summit after speaking with a friend who invited me to join in on a Kilimanjaro climb. Although I was not able to go with him, it sparked my interest in the Seven Summits.

My motivation for choosing to climb the Seven Summits was sparked by the fact that the youngest person who successfully completed this mountain group was 23 years, 9 days, a record I was confident I could top. I chose such a goal because I believed it would greatly assist my fundraising effort through the media exposure I would receive, thereby amplifying the amount of funds I could raise for prostate cancer.

During my 2003 spring semester at the University of Richmond, my Uncle was diagnosed with prostate cancer, in addition to my Grandfather, who was already fighting the disease. Weeks later, my other Grandfather was diagnosed with prostate cancer, which was later confirmed to be colon cancer. In an effort to support my family, I decided to embark on a quest to climb the Seven Summits to assist in fundraising for the research and awareness of prostate cancer.

ExWeb: How old were you when you realized that Everest could and would be a reality for you?

Dan: Last year, at age 21, I decided that Everest was within my grasp after reaching the summit of Denali. In saying this, I am confident I have the athletic ability and maturing to attempt the summit of Everest. However the question of whether I can and will reach the summit will depend on my health and willpower, but nonetheless, I believe, God will decide my outcome.

ExWeb: There typically aren't too many early 20 year olds on Everest during season. How do you feel about being so young and also about being on a relatively small expedition?

Dan: Age is not a factor for me in terms of my climb outside of my aim to become the youngest to complete the Seven Summits. Age, in a sense, is an arbitrary number that does not hold much significance after a certain point other than to relative one person to another in broad terms. More importantly, I believe, are qualities such as teamwork, judgment, strategy, knowledge and humility.

I enjoy climbing in pairs, especially with my partner, Dan Meggitt, who I completely trust and enjoy being around. Climbing in a small expedition, I believe, makes a climb less complicated and more pure.

Sunday: Part two - The funds, the family and sailing to Vinson

Image of Dan from his Denali expedition courtesy of Oath7.com.

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