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  Everest 2006  Team No Limits:  Built Ford Tough Tackles Mt. Everest


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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 avalanches. 
 
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?
 
The Climb
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 corner." 
 
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 the summit.
 
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 rough weather.
 
"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!"

The Man

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 road.
 
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 rocky start.
 
"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 rich."
 
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 Everest News.
 
About Tredway
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. 
 
 
About FordDirect

FordDirect.com is a joint venture between Ford Motor Company and its Ford franchised dealers to create a comprehensive web presence for dealers and provide information and online vehicle sales quotes directly to consumers. It is the only dealer-manufacturer partnership in the industry.  Launched in August 2000, FordDirect has more than 4,500 participating Ford, Lincoln, Mercury, Volvo, Jaguar and Land Rover dealers located in all 50 states. FordDirect.com is headquartered in Dearborn, Michigan

Everest 2006:  Team No Limits Dispatches

 

 

 






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