#RealTravel: Climbing the Himalayas at 16? A Father and His Teenage Son Eye Mount Everest
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Mike and Matt Moniz overlooking Camp One on Cho Oyu. (Photo: Mike Moniz)
Who: Mike Moniz, 52, and Matt Moniz, 16 —a father/son climbing duo from Boulder, Colorado
Where: The Himalayas, Nepal
(Mike) For the love of climbing — we’re both passionate about the mountains, and we’ve traveled around the world climbing some of its highest peaks. Also to raise awareness…
(Matt) My best friend, Iain Hess, has Primary Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension (PAH), a rare lung disease that makes breathing really tough. At extremely high altitudes, climbers have many of the same breathing difficulties due to a lack of oxygen. I climb to relate to Iain and to raise awareness for his disease.
(Mike) Back in 2010, Matt climbed the highest peak in every U.S. state in 43 days, becoming a National Geographic Adventurer of the Year. We’ve both climbed Aconcagua (South America), Denali (North America), Mount Kilimanjaro (Africa), and Elbrus (Europe).
(Matt) I love the challenge, the travel and adventure of big mountain expeditions.
Matt climbs the serac barrier on Cho Oyu below Camp Two. (Photo: Mike Moniz)
The Original Plan: To do what had never been done: climb three 8,000-meter peaks back to back. We planned to start on Cho Oyu, the 6th-highest mountain in the world, to acclimatize our bodies to the lack of oxygen. After summiting, we would head to the south side of Everest, summit, and go straight to Lhotse, the adjacent mountain. We called our expedition “Triple 8” in recognition of our goal.
The Heartbreak: On April 18, sixteen people died on the first day of climbing season in what would be the deadliest and saddest day in Everest’s history. Our sherpa guides were related to some of those who died. We were incredibly sad, shaken, and worried. While we mourned the dead, we also struggled with what would become of our expedition on Everest. In fact, after several days, the south side of Everest was effectively closed — and continued that way for the season — and we realized we’d have to give up on that dream.