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Author Topic: Cancerclimber Sean Swarner climbs 2 more summits with 7summits.com  (Read 4740 times)

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From MansfieldsNewsJournal, the story of Sean Swarner. He was told he had a few weeks to live due to cancer, later he climbed Everest and is now on a 7summits quest. He just climbed Kilimanjaro and Elbrus on a combined personalized 7summits.com trip and will be off to Carstensz next.

"One man, one mission, 7 mountains
Sean Swarner aims to reach highest peak on each continent
By Jon Spencer
News Journal

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------


Swarner's quest
Three down

In his quest to climb the highest peak on each continent, these are the three mountains Willard native and two-time cancer survivor Sean Swarner already has scaled:

Mountain Feet Location
Everest 29,029 Nepal/Tibet
Kilimanjaro 19,339 Tanzania
Elbrus 18,481 Russia

Four to go

The four remaining summits for Swarner to climb:
Mountain Feet Location
Carstensz 16,023 Indonesia
Aconcagua 22,840 Argentina
McKinley 20,320 Alaska
Vinson 16,067 Antarctica


When you've climbed the mother of all mountains -- Everest -- everything else is just a molehill, right?

Not exactly.

"It's not a 'snap,' " said Sean Swarner, who as an encore to his ascent of Everest in 2002 recently climbed the highest mountains in Europe (Elbrus) and Africa (Kilimanjaro). His goal is to climb the highest peak on each continent within the next year.

"The others are considerably easier than Everest, yet hard in their own right," said the 28-year-old Willard native, a two-time cancer survivor. "You always have to be aware of altitude because you never know how your body is going to react.

"I still have people telling me I was a fool to climb Everest with the little training I had, but they can't deny I made it to the summit. Now, I'm trying the other ones."

As he did atop Everest, Swarner planted flags with the names of cancer survivors when he reached the top of Kilimanjaro and then Elbrus. His goal is to raise $10 million through sponsors for cancer research.

"If you shoot for $10 million and get $1 million, that's still a good chunk of money," Swarner said.

Kilimanjaro (19,339 feet) and Aconcagua (22,840 feet) in Argentina require no prior climbing experience, but excellent physical condition. Snow-covered Elbrus (18,481 feet) is considered a technical peak, as are Vinson (16,067 feet) in Antarctica, McKinley (20,320 feet) in Alaska and, of course, Everest (29,029 feet), which usually is climbed last.

Swarner ignored convention and got the hardest climb out of the way first, but admitted on his Web site -- www.cancerclimber.org -- to being nervous as he prepared to scale Kilimanjaro.

"I keep this pressure on myself that comes from the reasons behind me climbing -- those affected by cancer," said Swarner, who twice beat terminal cancer as a teenager in Willard. "From climbing and putting flags on top of the highest peaks around the world, I hope people get some inspiration out of it and realize nothing is impossible.

"I know everyone has their own proverbial mountains to climb and I hope people see someone out here doing the actual physical climbing of spectacular mountains so they also can plan goals, dream big and never give up hope."

Swarner had to deal with a bout of hypoxia (brain oxygen deprivation) on Kilimanjaro, but he overcame much worse when he fell victim to High Altitude Cerebral Edema (swelling of the brain) on his way up Everest.

"I thought Kilimanjaro was fun, and Africa is ... absolutely beautiful," Swarner said. "I'd like to take some cancer survivors back and climb it again."

Kilimanjaro is considered a contradiction of nature. Its slopes feature five distinct climate zones and ecosystems, from equatorial to arctic. One day you're tromping through a lush rainforest, the next you're crossing barren desert plains and wind-whipped rock toward the snowfields and glaciers atop gaping volcanic craters.

The climb up Elbrus, in Russia, was less scenic and more scary, if only because Swarner was forced to begin his ascent in trail running shoes after the airport lost his luggage.

"It showed up the day before the summit push," he said. "It was a lot harder than I thought it would be. Elbrus is Russian for 'woman's breast.' There are two peaks. They're a little lopsided, so we went up the highest."

Swarner was part a 15-member expedition arranged through 7Summits.com. (Kilimanjaro was totally arranged through 7summits as well, HK)

"I love the way the Russians climb this mountain," he said. "You hop on two gondolas and then a chair-lift takes you up to 12,500 feet. The weather got a little foggy and cold and we weren't sure what would happen.

"On an acclimatization hike there was a white-out and temperatures got down to 30-below. But the fog cleared up and we had great weather most of the time."

May 28, Swarner summited Kilimanjaro. Eleven days later he stood on top of Elbrus. That's three down, four to go in his quest to become one of only about 100 mountaineers to scale the seven summits.

Texas millionaire Dick Bass, who in 1985 became the first to accomplish the feat, calls it "the equivalent of earning a super Boy Scout merit badge."

So why haven't more climbers done it?

"Everest is obviously a limiting factor," said Gordon Janow, an Everest expert and program director for Alpine Ascents International, which sets up climbing expeditions. "For other mountaineers, the other six summits are less challenging, and perhaps the cost and time involved in making the other trips keeps the number down. But I imagine many of the Everest summiters have done many of the other big peaks."

Next up for Swarner is Carstensz Pyramid (16,023 feet) in Indonesia. It's a rock climb of moderate difficulty. Swarner is seeking sponsors to help with the $15,000 in expenses for that August trek.

It's considered an "emergency" climb because there are reports of the mountain being closed to the public later this year, perhaps for good. So Swarner feels a strong sense of urgency.

"I'm sure cost and motivation have kept more people from climbing the seven summits," he said, "and maybe there was some bad luck with weather. I'm sure there are people who have climbed six of the summits and are waiting to climb Everest. It may seem scary to them ... and rightly so."

jspencer@nncogannett.com

(419) 521-7239


Originally published Wednesday, July 2, 2003
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"He who climbs upon the highest mountains laughs at all tragedies, real or imaginary." -- Friedrich Nietzsche
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