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ExWeb Everest Debrief: Dan Lochner Summit Video


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Jun 16, 2004 16: 31 EST
On May 19th, Dan Lochner and Dan Meggitt summited Everest from the North Side along with Ang Migma Sherpa and Mingma Dorje Sherpa.

Dan Lochner, who turned 22 on May 12th, needs only Vinson to become the youngest person to make the seven summits. But he's got to be quick and go for Vinson this year because Britton Keeshan, 22 and a half years old, summited Everest, and his seventh summit, on May 24th.

It will take time for Everest to sink in

“The top of the world is a very interesting place," said Dan in his post expedition report, "one that is quite different from the other peaks I have experienced. At the summit, I was very happy that I had accomplished my goal of reaching the top of Everest; however I was quite aware of the risks involved with it, so I was much more nervous about what might happen during my descent. And now, being home in Connecticut, my summit of Everest still hasn't set in. For me, I guess it's one of those things that if I didn't summit, I'd be disappointed because I did not accomplish what I set out to do. However, because I did reach the summit, now I am focused on Vinson this fall to complete my Seven Summit goal. I guess it will take time for Everest to sink in.”

Confident on the ridge and fairly confident on the first step

Recalling his summit attempt, Dan wrote “As we began to ascend, Man Bahadur Tamang led the way followed by myself, Meggitt and Ang Mingma. We made good time to the ridge although there were a few sections that were a bit hairy. The wind was stronger than I had anticipated and although the temperature was fair my feet remained rather cold until the sun rose around the time we reached the second step. I felt confident on the ridge and fairly confident on the first step, however the region between the first and second step totally wigged me out. Here, the ropes were horrible, the exposure was huge and the climbing terrain was shadier and narrower than expected.

If I slip off this section of rock, I am going to be seriously hurt or possibly die

During this section one particular spot was very narrow, being about one and a half feet wide, situated on flat slate rock which angled upward and pitched downhill to the right. I almost refused to cross this particular section of rock because when I first tried it my crampons slipped. I thought; ‘if I slip off this section of rock, I am going to be seriously hurt or possibly die,’ so I backed off and waited for Ang Mingma Sherpa. When he arrived, he convinced me that it wasn't as bad as it seemed. He crossed with ease after grabbing several ropes and then walked carefully between them as he transferred some weight from his feet to the ropes in both of his hands. Seeing how gracefully and confident he completed this section, I followed behind in a similar fashion without trouble, but I was truthfully scared.

I was taken back by the four or so bodies which I saw lying out like logs

The second step was not as bad as I imagined but it was still very tiring and I found the rightward move from the top of the ladder to the rock platform above to be tricky. Above the second step, the terrain was straight forward until the third step. However, enroute to the third step, I was taken back by the four or so bodies which I saw lying out like logs to the right side of me. Clearly Everest was not a game and this definitely put things into greater perspective for me.

Just before the third step, my energy was running severely low so I had a box of raisins, a Power Gel and some water, which did the trick. The third step was straight forward as well but it still required a sizable amount of effort given the altitude and my deteriorated stamina. Once above the third step, the summit pyramid was the final obstacle, which was definitely steep in nature. Three-quarters of the way up, we traversed around the right side of the summit pyramid on a narrow rocky ledge and then ascended back up the left hand side toward the upper limits of the pyramid. Here one is met with snow again on reasonably flat terrain and just above this section appears at first glance to be the summit.

The only life line here was your ice axe

In reality, once I climbed to the top of it, I realized it wasn't the summit which was now in the distance, slightly to the left. In order to reach the summit from here, one has to walk up and down several unroped hilly sections which are somewhat steep and precariously slant towards the North Face. The only life line here was your ice axe in the event that you slipped and began to slide toward the North Face. Meggitt and I took our time on this remaining section and by 10:45am, we finally stood on the top of the world. We finally made it.

I truly felt privileged to make the summit as there is definitely a component of uncertainty involved with it regardless of one's preparation.

Surprisingly, we remained at the summit for an hour, taking several summit photographs, video and calling loved ones.”

So knowing very little about mountaineering, I enrolled in a weeklong mountaineering course

In an interview with Dan back in February he spoke about climbing; “I began rock climbing in the Northeast while in summer camp back in junior high. After that, 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 climbing.

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.

My fair share of debt

One of the challenges that appeals to me is the difficultly in setting up the logistics for each climb. I find it very fulfilling and rewarding to plan everything on my own, making this Seven Summit quest quite the learning experience outside the climbing aspect of it. In terms of fund raising, I have managed all costs on my own; being one of the reasons I have planned my trips to keep costs at a minimum without reducing my chances of success.

Please don't get the impression I have a trust fund or what not as I definitely have my fair share of debt as well. To date, I have spent my entire savings from my prior internships, which was very difficult being a saver, however I felt money was nowhere near as important as living life to the fullest. In addition, I am taking out a loan to finance the cost of my Everest climb as well.”

“I chose the Seven Summits because it presented me with a rare opportunity to contend for the youngest Seven Summit position,” said Dan. “I felt this in turn would assist me in raising funds for Prostate Cancer through the publicity it would create, raising funds being my sole reason for pursuing the Seven Summits. Both my Grandfather and Uncle have experienced Prostate Cancer.

In general, I enjoy challenging myself on all levels and I constantly strive to push the limit. Taking this into consideration, I am interested naturally in the North Pole and South Pole and other 8000 meter peaks, however at the moment, time and money is a huge constraining factor for me.”

Dan Lochner and Britton Keeshan, climbing Everest from the North and South respectively, are in line to become the youngest to climb the seven summits. Britton Keeshan, the grandson of Bob Keeshan, a.k.a. Captain Kangaroo, is 22 years old and is climbing with Alpine Ascents on the South side.

Dan turned 22 May 12th. Vinson, his last mountain after Everest, is typically summited in November through January. He could potentially be 22 years and 6 months at the completion of his 7 summits.

Image of Dan Lochner (right) and Dan Meggitt on the summit of Everest courtesy of the team.

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