Oct 152002
Authors: Colleen Buhrer

The summit of Mount Everest sits at 29, 029 feet, towering over Tibet and Nepal as the highest mountain on Earth. In the spring of 2003 Ben Clark, a senior speech communications major, will attempt to be the youngest American, at 23, to climb the mountain.

Clark began climbing mountains five years ago at the age of 18. In four and a half years he has climbed mountains of several continents including North America, South America, Asia and Africa. The first major summit Clark climbed was Mount Ranier.

When asked why he climbs mountains, Clark refers to his personal motivation.

“I have always sought to push myself,” he said.

Since then Clark has summited Dhaulagiri, 26,788 feet, Aconcagua, 22,841 feet, Mount McKinley, 20,320 feet, Mount Kilimanjaro, 19,340 feet, Mount Ranier, 14,410 feet and more. In the spring of 2003 Clark will attempt Mount Everest with Kim Reiman and Slate Stern.

Clark will be speaking at the Aggie Theater today at 9 p.m., the doors open at 8 p.m. Admission is $5. The speech will cover a Mount Kilimanjaro safari on the Masai Mara and Dhaulagiri.

The Everest trip will raise money for Dreams Happen and the Babu Chiri Sherpa Trust Fund. Dreams Happen provides an opportunity for a graduating high school senior to get a fully funded college education and an adventure of a lifetime, Clark said. He is currently raising $300,000 for this fund.

Babu Chiri Sherpa was a local hero in Nepal.

“He did a lot for climbing,” Clark said.

Sherpa climbed Everest 10 times, holds the title for the fastest ascent from the south side at 16 hours and 56 minutes and holds the title for staying on the summit the longest at 21 and a half hours. He died in 1999 and the Babu Chiri Sherpa Trust Fund has been set up in his name.

Most of the money is raised through photographs Clark sells. Clark is a photojournalist. He takes pictures of his adventures and sells them to raise money. The money from these pictures is given to funds like Dreams Happen.

Clark has faced some struggles in striving towards his goal of climbing Mount Everest. Finding time to train as well as time for education and fundraising for the trip is difficult, he said.

“The hardest thing (about climbing mountains) is getting there,” he said. “Just getting there.”

Clark spends every Saturday in the mountains climbing.

When he is not striving to be the youngest American to climb Mount Everest, he is keeping busy in other places. He is a senior at CSU majoring in speech communication with a concentration in media curriculum. He plans on graduating in 2004.

He also runs his own company. His company works in Web-casting, which dispatches real-time messages to media sources using satellite telecommunications systems with laptop computers and solar powered charging units.

“The purpose (of web casting) is to speak the message of the culture and environment I am in,” Clark said.

Clark serves on the Board of Directors as an adviser to Little Red Book, as well, a television show that teaches children about ethics.

His speech at the Aggie will be sponsored by The Mountainshop, 632 S. Mason. Matt Evans, the owner of The Mountainshop, said he is always interested in supporting young mountaineers,

“Ben is going to go places in the long run,” he said. “He is going be one of the top mountaineers, if he keeps going like he is.”

-Edited by Vince Blaser and Ben Koerselman

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