High winds thwart Eagle River climber’s Everest attempt

Tuesday, June 6, 2017 - 22:29
  • Photo courtesy of Larry Daugherty/Facebook Eagle River’s Larry Daugherty poses for a photo on the slopes of Mt. Everest earlier this month. Daugherty recently returned to the U.S. after an unsuccessful bid to climb Mt. Everest. Daugherty and his climbing partners reached the South Summit of Everest, but couldn’t summit the world’s tallest peak due to high winds.

Eagle River’s Larry Daugherty will have to wait to become the first person to summit Mt. Everest and complete the Iditarod in the same year.

The Eagle River radiation oncologist was foiled in his attempt to reach the top of the 29,029-foot mountain on Wednesday when strong winds near the summit forced his team to turn back just 400 feet shy of their goal.

“Very, very heartbroken and disappointed,” Daugherty wrote Thursday in a Facebook message to his friends, family and fans. “But I promised my wive & many others before the climb that [I] would be at peace with the outcome. I’m getting there. We gave it all we had, the mountain just had other plans that day.”

Daugherty’s team reached the 28,705-foot South Summit of Everest, a peak Daugherty pointed out is higher than the world’s second-tallest mountain, K2.

An experienced mountaineer who has climbed some of the world’s tallest mountains, Daugherty was climbing both to complete the unprecedented adventuring double but also to raise money to fight cancer. He works with Radiating Hope, a nonprofit dedicated to bringing potentially lifesaving equipment and medical care to remote parts of the world. He is also carrying prayer flags for many of his former patients and others seeking inspiration as they battle the illness.

Strong winds near the summit of Everest have plagued climbers this season, and Daugherty said in his Facebook post his team knew Wednesday’s attempt would be tough.

“To my knowledge, we were the only team attempting the summit on that day. It’s been a tough weather year with limited opportunities to attempt the summit,” he wrote. “We knew wind was in the forecast, but were racing against it with an early start (8:45pm). We were in (we thought) perfect position at the South Summit around 3am, pletny of time (we thought) to top out and beat the ‘real’ wind. Well, the wind came earlier than we’d expected gosh darn it!”

Daugherty wrote that he and his climbing partners were able to safely turn back and had since returned to Kathmandu, Nepal.

To read more about his adventure, follow Daugherty on Facebook (where he has shared several videos from near the top of Everest) or visit Radiating Hope online at radiatinghope.org.

CORRECTION: A previous version of this story misspelled Daugherty’s last name.

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