Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Himalaya 2014: Matt Moniz Summits Second 8000 Meter Peak of the Season

You'll have to forgive me for all of the updates from the Himalaya today. After the long weekend here in the states, there has been a lot to catch up on, and I felt each of these stories was deserving its own posting.

One of the climbers that I've posted about regularly this spring as been Matt Moniz, the 16-year old mountaineer from Colorado who had originally hoped to climb three 8000 meter peaks this season. Climbing with Willie Benegas, Matt, along with his dad Mike, had planned on acclimatizing on Cho Oyu in Tibet, before crossing the border back to Nepal for an attempt on Everest and Lhotse. But with the closure of the South Side, those plans seemed to be crushed. But, sticking to their schedule, Matt and Mike topped out on Cho Oyu last weekend, giving the teenager his first ever 8000-meter summit. He wouldn't have to wait long for his second.

This past weekend, Matt and Willie reached the top of the 8481 meter (27,825 ft) Makalu. According to the team's website, they set out for the summit at 8:45 PM and reached that point at 4:00 AM local time on Saturday, May 24. Perhaps more impressively, after acclimatizing on Cho Oyu, the boys spent just three days on Makalu to go from BC to Summit and back. They are now back in Kathmandu, and plotting their next move.

The dreams of an Everest summit this season may not be over just yet either. While Matt was climbing Makalu, Mike was attempting to work out the logistics of a climb from the North Side. There has been no word yet on whether or not they have cleared the logistical red tape that the Chinese government tends to throw at climbers, but progress in that department was said to be promising.

That said, the biggest challenge now may be the arrival of the monsoon. It typically hits the Himalaya  in early June, and a quick look at the calendar shows we're just a few days away from the start of that month. It would be great to see the team get an opportunity to have a go at Everest, but the weather may be the true deciding factor on whether or not Matt can still attempt his Himalayan triple-header this year.

Either way, major congratulations to Matt and his team on a job well done. This was an impressive Himalayan debut for a young man who already has a fantastic climbing resume. I suspect we'll be hearing much more about his expeditions in the years to come.

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