In April 2018, Denny began his expedition to Nepal, looking forward to a new adventure that gave him the opportunity to overcome another mountain. But, climbing to the summit of Gokyo Ri was only one of the goals for Denny and his fiance while in Nepal. His fiance would spend two weeks at an orphanage to help create a reading program, and Denny would be climbing this difficult mountain while acting as a seeing guide for Treavor, a friend of Denny’s who lost his sight when he was younger.
As Denny’s group began their trek, Denny was responsible for explaining every step to Treavor to help him keep his footing and stay safe. From morning until bed, Denny was Treavor’s partner, helping him to overcome his mountain. But, as the elevation increased and the oxygen decreased, Denny found it harder and harder to catch his breath, let alone give constant direction. It was during this challenging time that the team banded together, helping Denny with instructions when it became impossible to do it alone. This teamwork helped Denny, Treavor, and the whole group make it to the summit of Gokyo Ri.When asked about his experience, Denny was quick to mention first and foremost the strength and resilience that the people of Nepal possessed. When Denny flew into Lukla and began the expedition, every village was over 10,000 ft in elevation. The main way to transport goods and equipment up into the mountain villages was by porter. Denny witnessed many porters who would patiently carry huge loads up the mountain every day. One porter would have a screen door on his back while another would have two cases of drinks and two propane tanks attached to his load to bring up the mountain. This perseverance was impressive, and their example helped Denny with his personal climb.
Reaching the summit of Gokyo Ri was a great milestone for Denny. He describes: “when you get to the top, a chill rushes over you as you feel the triumph from your climb.”
With the help of Denny and their team, Treavor also made it to the summit and was ecstatic by the victory. Although Treavor couldn’t see the stunning views during the climb, he could feel the wind and hear the noises coming from the mountains. Denny also worked hard to describe the scenery for Treavor throughout the trek. He wanted to make sure that Treavor could envision the beauty all around him.
This trek became more than just a mission to conquer a mountain. It became a spiritual journey for Denny. Denny was inspired by the prayer flags that hung from every high place and the Buddhist background and perspectives of the Sherpas that guided them up the mountain.
Denny learned many lessons on his expedition to Nepal. He learned that there will always be “false” summits that have to be overcome. No matter how disappointing it is when you think you have reached the top and were wrong, you must persevere and push forward. He learned that there are always people who have your back and are willing to step in when you are in need of help. This became very clear to him as his teammates stepped in and took his place with directions when he struggled to find the breath to help Treavor up the mountain. He also learned the importance of finding happiness and positivity in hardship as he helped and supported the earthquake-ravaged villages that he visited while on his expedition.
We are so proud of Denny for conquering his mountain and enhancing the lives of others, and we are honored to celebrate him and other heroes who work everyday to make the future bright for all.