Matt Tredway calls himself
ordinary, an every-day kind of guy. But if he is ordinary, his aspirations
are anything but.
Thanks to a sponsorship by
FordDirect, this math and science teacher from Steamboat, Colorado, is
putting down the calculator and his textbooks March 31 to start a six-week
journey that he hopes will take him to the top of the world.
"Climbing Mt. Everest is an
opportunity for an ordinary guy to participate in an extraordinary event, to
witness one of the most pristine places on earth," Tredway said.
Marking the border between
Nepal and China, Mount Everest is the highest point on Earth. At its
summit, it is more than 29,000 feet above sea level, roughly the cruising
altitude of a commercial airliner. It's a dangerous environment marked by
high winds, treacherous icefalls, huge crevasses, potential blizzards and
Everest may offer climbers the
best view on the planet, but it's not the scenery that will take their
breaths away; it's the lack of oxygen. The air at the top of Mt. Everest is
thin, with only 1/3 the level of oxygen that's available at sea level.
Climbing to the top without acclimatizing would kill even top-performance
athletes within minutes. So why would anyone want to climb it?
"I've been thinking about it
for years and years, until I decided that I just have to try to get up that
mountain," Tredway said. "It's the most rigorous endeavors that a climber
can work toward and one of the most beautiful places on Earth. I'm in for
an incredible adventure."
In the back of Tredway's mind,
Mt. Everest has loomed as the pinnacle of achievement, a symbol of human
endurance and the soaring heights of the human spirit.
"For me, Matt represents what
it is to be built Ford tough," Bill Keith, dealer principal of Freehold Ford
in New Jersey and chairman of the FordDirect Board of Directors. "He's an
inspiration to all of us who dare to dream, aspire to reach new heights and
work hard to accomplish something."
Tredway has certainly been
working hard toward his goal. For the last year, he's been running 20 miles
a week, lifting weights, doing pilates and of course hiking and climbing the
mountains surrounding him in Steamboat. Just this month he ran a marathon.
But will it be enough?
In order to survive the trek
up Everest, climbers must become acclimatized. They simply have to give
their bodies time to adjust to an environment with a fraction of the oxygen at
sea level. At higher altitudes, first breathing increases and breaths
deepen, which raises the oxygen pressure in the lungs and allows more oxygen
to get into the blood stream. And in time, the body will make more red
blood cells, the cells that "carry" or bind to oxygen from the lungs.
"Because your body needs time
to acclimatize, climbing Everest is not as simple as progressively climbing
through all the base camps," Tredway said. "To get your body used to higher
altitudes, we'll climb to base camp two, then back down; then three then
down, then four then down. Up and down we'll go until our bodies are ready
to make a summit attempt."
Tredway is referring to the
base camps climbers stop to acclimatize as they climb up the Southeast ridge
of Mt. Everest, the more popular of the two main climbing routes. His team,
a No Limits climbing expedition consisting of five climbers, will fly into
Lukla, then hike to Base Camp, on the Khumba Glacier (17,600 feet).
From the Base Camp, the No
Limits team will face the seracs, crevasses and shifting blocks of ice know
as the Khumba Icefall, one of the more treacherous sections of the climb.
Advanced Base Camp, or Camp I, is located above the Khumba Icefall at 19,900
feet above sea level.
From Camp 1, Tredway's group
will make their way up the Western Cwm to Camp I at the base of the Lhotse.
Known as the "Valley of Silence," the Western Cwm is a relatively flat,
gently rising glacial valley that blocks the wind. It is marked by huge
lateral crevasses that climbers avoid through a narrow passageway known as "Nuptse
From Camp 2, the group will
climb the Lhotse face using fixed ropes to a small ledge known as Camp III
(24,500 feet). Between camps III and IV, they will face The Geneva Spur and
The Yellow Band. When they reach camp IV at 26,000 feet, they will be in
the "death zone" of the South Col. Typically, climbers only have two or
three days in which they can endure the altitude and complete the climb to
From Camp IV, the climbers
will attempt a summit climb, a 10 – 12 hour trek where they will face a
series of rock steps that will force them into waist deep snow and the
threat of an avalanche. They will have to go over the "Cornice traverse," a
narrow section with an 8,000 drop on one-side and a 10,000 foot drop on the
other. The Cornice traverse ends in a 40 foot rock wall know as Hillary
Step. And all that's left then is moderately angled slopes covered with
snow and a loose, rocky section with fixed ropes that can equal trouble in
"After it is all said and
done, and only if we're really lucky, we'll have a half hour max at the top
of the summit, before we have to descend to avoid the rough afternoon
weather and the onset of darkness," Tredway said. "It's a matter of luck
between weather and health. The stars must align!"
He may not be able to align
the stars but everything else in his life has been pointing him toward the
Everest climb. Growing up in Gunnison, Colorado, with his three brothers,
Tredway said he's always been attracted to the outdoors. One of his
earliest adventures with his family was driving and camping over the famous
Alcan highway in Alaska, then a 2,000 mile drive along a dirt and rocky
In fifth grade, Tredway
started venturing into the mountains by himself and with friends. He still
remembers his first overnight mountain trek.
"Armed with a little canvas
tent and a good sleeping bag, my friends and I explored the mountains
surrounding Gunnison," Tredway said. "We skied in several miles, but
couldn't figure out how to pack out a site for our tent. We ended up
pitching the tent in the middle of the trail. And after a cold night, we
were awakened the next morning by a pair of Nordic skiers, very surprised to
find our camp and gear blocking the track."
Skiing and hiking in the
mountains was one thing, but what Tredway really wanted to do was rock
climb. He finally convinced the owner of a local outdoor shop in Gunnison
to teach him. Don Carroll ended up becoming his mentor.
"The climbing was terrifying
and I recall thinking, 'what am I doing here?'" Tredway said. "But those
feelings were always replaced with exhilaration and a feeling of
accomplishment. Funny, I still have all those same feelings today."
Tredway attended Western State
College in Colorado were he played football. He received training, and
subsequently taught mountaineering skills, at The National Outdoor
Leadership school in Lander, Wyoming. And it was in Wyoming where he met his
future wife. The relationship, like the mountains he climbs, got off to a
"My relationship with my
future wife got off to a rough start in the early 80s," Tredway said. "Dana
and I we decided to climb the Grand Teton in Wyoming. As a former college
gymnast, she was plenty strong, but after a 15 hour successful trip, I had
only packed apples for dinner. The lesson is no matter what, bring lots of
food, including chocolate."
The relationship survived the
hunger pains, and the couple spent their honeymoon summer working at a cow
camp in Tincup, Colorado. At an elevation of 10,200 feet, the couple was
high on life.
"We watched over 600 cows on a
range 63,000 acres large," Tredway said. "A true test of a marriage, living
in a single room log cabin, wood burner stove as the only heat source and a
pump for water and an outhouse out back.. We made $600 a month, but felt
Figuratively, Tredway may
already feel on top of the world. But to track his literal progress to the
top of the Earth, Mt. Everest, we will all be watching his progress on
Matt Tredway lives in
Steamboat Colorado with his wife Dana. They have passed on their love of
the outdoors and adventure to their two daughters, Danielle and Ariel.
Danielle is a freshman art major at Cal Poly. Ariel is a sophomore at
Steamboat High School and a member of the Pro Am snowboard team. Tredway
is a teacher and a coach and has started an organization, Everything
Outdoor Steamboat (available online at eosteamboat.com) to offer children in
the community a way to experience the outdoors.
FordDirect.com is a joint
venture between Ford Motor Company and its Ford franchised dealers to create a
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than 4,500 participating Ford, Lincoln, Mercury, Volvo, Jaguar and Land Rover
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Everest 2006: Team No Limits