The Jefferson Iowa News®


  RAGBRAI Experiences Inspire International High-Altitude Climbers to Attack Iowa

Over the course of the last several years, many internationally-renowned bicyclists have appeared in Iowa, tackling RAGBRAI and enjoying the incredibly scenic route which it follows through our state. This has spawned  an even more impressive development, as a group of world-class Himalayan mountaineers has decided to once again put Iowa on the map.

This close-knit group of climbers, headed by Ed Viesturs and Dave Breashears, are planning on adding to their already illustrious resumes. They have successfully reached the summits of the world's highest peaks on each continent, but are currently undertaking the seemingly impossible quest of reaching the highest points in each of Iowa's 99 counties.

Normally, a highly-skilled climber can only hope to summit a couple of these peaks in a given year, even with the aid of bottled oxygen and local sherpa help. Of course, all of their best-laid plans can go for naught if the weather does not permit success. This group of climbers was recently in the Jefferson area, preparing to match wits with Greene County's highest terrain.

They brought along extra oxygen (necessary at advanced heights), and all of the gear required to set up their base camp as well as a smaller camp at a higher altitude. All they carried with them was their necessary gear, such as crampons, caribiners, plenty of rope, down suits, and high-tech gear which would help prevent any occurrence of high-altitude sickness.

After arriving in the area, several brief forays were made part-way up the mountain, helping to acclimatize them to the lack of oxygen they would have to deal with on their final push. Any member of their group exhibiting symptoms of pulmonary or cerebral edema are not permitted to attempt the final, most brutal part of the climb.

Himalayan sherpas have been brought along, in order to lay out strings of fixed rope, as one fatal slip could send a climber tumbling down the face of the precipice, to almost certain death. Years of practice in the Andes and Himalayas are proving to be quite useful in mastering Iowa's 99 peaks.

   Cassady's Mound - Sac County. Successful summit on October 4.


  Sioux Hilltop - Guthrie County. Successful summit on October 14.

  Wilson Peak - Carroll County. Successful summit on October 19.

  Morain Mount - Greene County. Summit still in question.