The Seventh Summit
On May 22nd, 2018, WVU alumnus Brian Cheripko and his partner, Geneva Keaton, made
the final push to the summit of Mount Everest – the last piece of an 8-year journey
to the top of each of the Seven Summits. From their first expedition up Mount Kilimanjaro
in Africa to Mount Elbrus, Aconcagua, Denali, Vinson Massif, and Carstensz Pyramid,they
had reached the summit of the highest peak on six continents and they only needed
to check the 29,035 ft. Everest off their list.
“We’ve been told by our guides that have done Everest that it’s about six to eight
breaths for every step that you take,” Cheripko explained, “so you have to be able
to deal with feeling like you can’t get a breath and at the same time, exerting
the most energy that you have ever exerted in your life.”
The Everest Expedition, which they had been training to complete for more than a
year, began in March with an 83-mile trek to Everest Base Camp. Once there, they
took a fewdays to get organized and train in ladder-crossing, one of the most dangerous
parts of an Everest attempt, before starting on their first cycle up the Mountain.
“Many people don’t realize that you have to take Everest in cycles.
You have to go from Base Camp to Camp 1, maybe Camp 2, then come back to Base Camp.
Then you’ll make your way up to Camp 3, then back. Your body needs the time to
deal with the altitude and the lack of oxygen...” said Brian.“You end up heading
through Icefall over and over.”
The Khumbu Icefall lies toward the bottom of the South Col route to Everest’s summit
and consists of large crevasses and towers of ice that are likely to move or
collapse at any time. Climbers cross the crevasses using metal ladders and ropes.
“Everest is in the Jet Stream and the Jet Stream shifts south for about two weeks.
So when that happens,you’re looking for a good weather window to make the summit
attempt. You want to be in the right position within the cycles to catch that
Once climbers reach Camp 4 (8000m), they don’t have long to make a summit attempt
before their window ends. To get to the summit they’ll make a 15-hour round trip
climb along a razor ridge line with an 8,000 ft. drop on either side.
“There’s just a little mound (at the summit) where you can see everywhere. It was
cold, but it was a beautiful day, sunny with blue skies. For summit days,Everest
was probably one of our best,” said Cheripko. “I want everybody to know that
I don’t think I’d be here if it weren’t for my upbringing in West Virginia and
what I learned going to WVU.”
To read more about the Seven Summits and to follow Brian and Geneva’s full journey
to the top, check out their blog from the Mountains here.