Minnesota man reaches goal of climbing 7 summits

- A Minneapolis man has finally accomplished his goal. After ten years, and after trekking mountains on every continent, Andrew Towne finally climbed to the peak of Mount Everest, meaning he’s climbed the highest mountains on every continent.

In Towne’s closet are memories of worlds most of us have never seen. For over a decade, the 35-year-old has been trekking the globe.

“The seven summits took me to seven bizarre corners of the world,” Towne said. “And, I guess the things that distinguish an Everest expedition from everything else are the down suits that are kind of famous on the mountain.”

On snow covered landscapes well past the reach of helicopters and wifi, Towne’s goal brought him to place overwhelming in both beauty and danger.

"You really have to visualize as many scenarios as are possible, including worse case scenarios," he said.

First came Mount Kilimanjaro in Africa, and eventually Mount Aconcagua in South America, Delani in Alaska, and in 2015, Mount Everest.

"I'm terrified of heights, so mountaineering was natural outgrowth, and it was  a combination of endurance sports and pushing my physical limits along with my new found interest in overcoming mental barriers," he said.

Towne recalls a moment at base camp at 17,500 feet.

"I thought the guy next to me was jiggling the table, but our expedition guide – who’s a Californian - immediately recognized it and said ‘earthquake.’"

It was a moment he will never forget, a wall of snow and debris tearing through base camp, killing more than 20 and injuring many more.

"I saw a cloud of snow and ice almost a quarter mile tall rushing towards us,” he said.

Towne and his expedition were lucky, leaving Everest unhurt. And in the years that followed, he reached all the mountains left on his list and returned to Everest this past April.

"Nothing could have prepared me for the emotions I felt at the summit," he said.

And unlike his first try, there were no earthquakes or avalanches.

"To look at other mountains, you are dwarfing and realize one is the fourth tallest mountain in the world, one is fifth tallest mountain in the world and then there's a third 8,000 meter peak just on the other side," he said. "It was just, ‘I can't believe I'm here.’"

Towne does plan to keep climbing, but nothing too intense with his attention now turning to other possible hobbies including salsa dancing.

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