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EVEREST’S LURE HAS UTAHNS CLIMBING WALLS

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Everyone has a dream. One person dreams about writing the great American novel. Another about having his or her own highly rated TV series.

Whatever it is, everyone should pursue the dream. You know. Climb every mountain.At least that's the opinion of Doug Hansen, 35, who owns and operates Hansen Mountaineering Inc. in Orem. For 20 years, Doug has been infatuted with mountain climbing. He has read everything he could find on the subject, and has led dramatic climbs from Mexico to Alaska as well as in Europe. He has several first ascents to his credit.

His lifelong dream is to climb the highest mountain on Earth.

Named for Sir George Everest, a British surveyor-general of India, Mt. Everest is 29,028 feet tall. Sir Edmund Hillary became the first man to conquer it in 1953. He and his party scaled the southeast ridge in a little over 2 months. They battled avalanches, crevasses and strong winds, plus extreme steepness and thin air.

In early 1986, Doug began corresponding with the Mountaineering Association of the People's Republic of China in an effort to secure permission to climb Mt. Everest. Initially his requests were denied, but by July 1987 the officials wrote him a prized letter, granting him permission to climb the north face of Mt. Qomolangma, as the Chinese call it, in the fall of 1992.

Doug Hansen flew off his chair. Since receiving that letter, he has been preparing.

But it is not just for himself. He wants to put another Utahn on Everest.

So he has carefully assembled a team of 10 hard-working, intelligent Utahns who share his dream. They hope to demonstrate a rare synergy, proving what a dedicated team can do if it is not caught up with hopes for individual glory.

Currently, they are following a rigid training schedule at the Orem Fitness Center and in several organized climbing projects.

They have been to Mr. Rainier in Washington twice, most recently in May. They have done rock climbing in Little Cottonwood Canyon, ice climbing at Bridal Veil Falls, winter skill training at Timpanogos. And they have accomplished an ascent of Mt. Orizaba (18,800 feet) in Mexico.

There is more group training ahead at Timpanogos, the Grand Tetons, Longs Peak, Colo., the Wind River Range in Wyoming, the Peruvian Andes, Eiger North Face in Switzerland, Mt. McKinley in Alaska and Bei Peak in Tibet.

That last one is 25,700 feet.

Besides Hansen, the team consists of nine people who share his zeal for the elusive mountain. Howard Lewis, 39, is deputy team leader. He is a conference coordinator at Brigham Young University and a licensed professional whitewater river guide.

Keith Hooker, 50, director of the emergency room for Utah Valley Regional Medical Center, is the team physician. Hooker is also a pilot and has served as medical director of many survival outdoor programs.

Leland McCullough, 45, attorney with Callister, Duncan & Nebeker, has had extensive climbing experience in the Western United States. Robert Weston, 37, marketing director at Teleflex Defense Systems, has climbed most of the 14,000-foot peaks in Colorado.

Howard Chuntz, 43, is an Orem attorney who for several years owned and operated a climbing store in California. Craig Bishop, 34, has a business finding and selling fossils worldwide. He is a graduate of the combat diver course, reputed to be the most physically demanding offered by the U.S. Army.

Dennis Chapman, 42, is a teacher in the Provo School District and an emergency medical technician. Pamela McCullough, 41, is a registered nurse and stockbroker who has climbed mountains all over the West and in Mexico. Corey Child, 25, is a BYU student in public relations who has been climbing mountains since he was 17.

The team's average age is 38, which Doug regards as ideal. Although most people would guess that young people are the best bet for an Everest expedition because of strength, Doug says people in their 30s, 40s and 50s have more perseverance. They are also not fancy free.

Most team members are married with children, and work in stressful occupations that cry out for a sense of release through climbing.

They want to share the excitement and accomplishment of this experience with all of Utah. And if they are to succeed, Utahns need to offer moral and financial support. To date, only $100,000 of the fund-raising goal of $500,000 has been reached. Anyone who would like to contribute can write to Doug Hansen, 757 N. State St., Orem, UT 84057.

In the meantime, the hard work and training continues. But don't kid yourselves. To these expert climbers, whose lifelong dream seems suddenly within reach, it is just plain fun.