A daring summit

Capt Chris Dare poses in his climbing gear.

Capt Chris Dare poses in his climbing gear.

Peter Mallett, Staff Writer ~

Captain Chris Dare is trading his dentist’s drill for a mountaineer’s axe.

The 35-year-old army dentist who works at the Dockyard dental clinic is set to ascend 8,850 metres to the top of Mount Everest.

If successful, the accomplished outdoorsman’s latest expedition will bring to fruition a nine-year journey to hike the “Seven Summits”, considered one of the top bench marks of accomplishment in the world of mountain climbing. They are the highest mountains of each of the seven continents.

He tackled the first mountain while deployed to Afghanistan nine years ago.

“When I returned back to Afghanistan I was feeling down as there were a lot of people I was working with getting seriously injured, dying, and there seemed to be a consistent wave of ramp ceremonies going on. I decided I would climb the Seven Summits even though it seemed like an impossible task.”

While on leave, he summited Africa’s Mount Kilimanjaro, a 5,895 metre climb to the top.

From there he travelled the globe climbing the continental geological behemoths in Europe’s Mount Elbrus (5642 m), Alaska’s Mount Denali (6104 m), South America’s Aconcagua (6962 m), Oceania’s Carstensz Pyramid (4884 m) and Antarctica’s Mount Vinson (4892 m).

Capt Dare will fly from Vancouver to Nepal March 21 and complete several weeks of altitude training under the guidance of a Sherpa guide named Nuru. Then in late May, when conditions are good, the two will begin the journey up the mountain from Tibet side.

It should take between two to three weeks to reach the summit. Weather and the amount of time waiting behind other hikers could prolong their journey.

He says Alaska’s Mount Denali climb was his toughest to date because of the thin air and Arctic weather, but the Everest ascent presents a new challenge in that he has never hiked above 8,000 metres. The last 895 metres is considered the most dangerous and is dubbed the Death Zone among mountaineers. That’s because altitude sickness and lack of oxygen at these heights has led to the death of 288 people since records began in 1924.

Capt Dare says he is aware of the statistics and confesses the Everest challenge will be his greatest.

“As I’ve never been that high before, I’m expecting to be completely exhausted despite my use of oxygen in the final stages of my climb. It’s going to be another element of complexity to manage that oxygen supply and the flow rate so that I don’t end up running out.”

To complete the climb, he will need approximately 150 lbs of food and equipment including harnesses, ascenders, carabiners, an ice axe and high performance clothing that include base layers, multiple jackets and waterproof gear. 

The equipment will be broken up into two back packs, one with equipment needed for climbing lower levels of Everest below 5,000 metres and the rest will be shipped to the Everest base camp located at an elevation of approximately 5,000 metres. The most expensive item he will bring is a pair of La Sportiva Olympus hiking boots, which cost $1,600.

Throughout his journey Capt Dare will be able to stay connected and send spectacular imagery back to the base courtesy of a rocket stick provided to him by the Maritime Forces Pacific (MARPAC) public affairs team, which he will attach to his cell phone.

For higher up the mountain, when he is out of cell phone range, the Canadian Armed Forces have provided him with a small satellite dish for photo sharing and communications. 

Planning his trip has been a journey unto itself. Capt Dare estimates the total cost of the Everest trip from beginning to end will be $60,000.

He also attained sponsorship through Vancouver-based Ener-C, who has agreed to supply him with their highly portable electrolyte powders, which he likens to an IV bag full of essential nutrients and vitamins. 

In recent weeks he decided to dedicate his climb as a fundraiser for the B.C. Children’s Hospital. Those wishing to donate funds on behalf of Capt Dare’s expedition can do so at his Summits of Hope web page www.summitsofhope.com/climbers/chris_dare

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