For most of us, climbing a single 8000 meter peak in a year is considered quite an accomplishment. Topping out on two, or more, is generally reserved for those elite climbers who have years of experience in the Himalaya. But this spring, 16-year old Matt Moniz has set an ambitious goal for himself. He plans to summit three Himalayan giants, making his first attempt at an 8000 meter mountain one to remember.
Matt, along with his dad Mike, will leave for Nepal on April 3, where their Himalayan adventure will officially get underway. First, they’ll travel to Tibet, where the teenager will test his skills on Cho Oyu, an 8201 meter (26,906 ft) mountain that is considered to be one of the easier peaks of that altitude. That ascent will also serve to acclimate the climbers to the extreme altitudes that are found in the Himalaya.
If all goes well, they’ll then transfer back to Nepal, and travel to Everest Base Camp, where they will then attempt to climb the tallest mountain on the planet. If they manage to successfully reach the 8848 meter (29,029 ft) summit, they’ll descend to Camp 4, briefly rest up, and then push for the top of Lhotse, Everest’s 8516 meter (27,940 ft) neighbor. The two peaks share the same climbing route for much of the way, and if the team is feeling strong, it won’t be necessary for them to descend all the way back to Base Camp before launching their third, and final, summit bid.
For most 16-year olds, an expedition of this nature would seem ridiculous to even contemplate. But Matt is no typical teenager. He first visited EBC when he was nine years old, catching the climbing bug in the process. From there, he went on to summit Kilimanjaro, Elbrus and Aconcagua, the tallest mountains in Africa, Europe and South America respectively. Along the way, Matt and Mike, who is a veteran of the Himalaya himself, also managed to reach the high point in all 50 U.S. states, including Denali in Alaska, a feat that earned him the honor of being named one of National Geographic’s adventurers of the year.
Even with all that experience, success in the Himalaya is not guaranteed. Matt will face some challenges he hasn’t seen before, such as moving into the extremely thin air above 26,000 feet – the region that has become known as the “Death Zone.” If he adapts well to those conditions, he’ll put himself into a position that few climbers ever get the opportunity to do. Pull off an 8000-meter triple header with a matter of weeks.