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Mazur speaks about Everest climb, rescue

Shelby LeDuc, General Reporter

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Contemporary mountain climber Dan Mazur visited the University of Wisconsin-Platteville on March 12 where he spoke about his mountain climbing adventures and involvement in helping create charities for the surrounding communities of Mount Everest.

As an introduction, Adam Stanley, Director of the Social and Environmental Justice Program, spoke about how Mazur exemplifies the virtues and values that members of the SEJ program want to instill in students.

“I hope that students listen to Dan’s story and apply what they have learned in the classroom to go out and make a difference,” said Stanley.

With the organizational help of summitclimb.com, Mazur has lead more than 50 mountain climbing expeditions worldwide with nearly half a dozen at Mount Everest.  Located in the Himalayas, Mount Everest is the world’s tallest mountain measuring approximately 30,000 feet above sea level.

Mazur has given speeches at nearly 20 universities across the United States.  He uses his inspirational story to enlighten audiences about decision making in stressful situations and how one should react and help others.

In May 2006, Mazur made headlines when, while leading a small group of climbers on Everest, he discovered an injured climber named Lincoln Hall.  Hall had been left for dead by his own climbing group a day prior. Mazur and his group risked their lives to save Hall’s.

“When the story became international news, I was really surprised,” Mazur said.  “I didn’t do anything different on that climb than I normally would have in that type of situation.”

During the rescue, Mazur attempted to flag down two passers-by for help.  The climbers claimed they did not speak English and continued on their journey to the top. Mazur later discovered that they did in fact speak English.  Mazur explained that the urge to reach the top often effects the decision making of mountain climbers.

“They said they didn’t stop because they were working on a research project and didn’t have the time to,” Mazur said.  “I then asked them in a non-confrontational way what they thought about people who climb to the top and can’t make it down on their own.”

Mazur further explained that the two hinted that if people are not strong enough to get back down on their own, they essentially deserve to die at the top.

“Every one of us has the ability to stop and help someone out, every last one of us,” said Mazur.  “However, every last one of us also has the ability not to stop.”

During his visit, Mazur made an appearance in a Cultural Anthropology class taught by Karen M. Gagne, assistant professor of sociology and anthropology.

“I’m part of the SEJ faculty that helped bring Dan here,” Gagne said.  “His story talks about environmental and sustainability issues that those students who do field projects know about.”

Gange’s Cultural Anthropology class not only deals with biological and psychological issues but also social science and what it means to be human, which is what Mazur’s is comprised of.

“I would hope that students take away some factual things and tie them into the subjects they are interested in,” Mazur said. “I would like to see this become a forum for their issues to be discussed and for students to get involved.”

Since saving Hall, Mazur has helped develop and support numerous charities that benefit the communities of Mount Everest that are in need. One charity in particular, the Mount Everest Foundation, works to build schools and medical facilities throughout Nepal and Tibet.  These areas that have long been without roads and electricity are now seeing the addition of water quality testing laboratories, recycling techniques for treated waste products and improved orphanage conditions.

“I got to talk to him about his involvement in human rights activities in Nepal and Tibet,” Gange said.  “At the reception before his speech, he had little individually wrapped packs with things like soap made by groups from Nepal and Tibet. He was asking for donations and there was a card inside each of them with the story of the foundation.”

On a side note, Mazur shared some expert advice to those looking to take up mountain climbing.

“Get started in your local area with hiking and biking,” Mazur said.  “Start out small, and then increase on hill size.”

For those wondering why some are so intrigued by the journey to the top of a mountain, Mazur relates it back to how influential the symbol of the mountain really is.

“References to mountains can be found everywhere, in religious texts, music, movies and more,” Mazur said. “They are a part of who we are; they are a part of everything.”

 

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Mazur speaks about Everest climb, rescue