As high school winds down, and parents plan for summer vacations, Mike Moniz is fervently attempting to arrange for his son to have a different type of outing. He is hoping that, within the next eight days, his son Matt will have successfully summited his second and third 8000-meter peaks. The mountains in question — only the fifth highest peak in the world, Makalu, and then hopefully Mt. Everest.


The fact that Matt is only sixteen years old only makes it more impressive. At an age when most kids are worrying about acne and the ACT’s, Matt is quickly becoming an accomplished mountaineer. With four of the seven summits under his belt, the speed record for the fifty high points in fifty states, and being named a National Geographic Adventurer of the Year in 2010, he is a kid to make Colorado proud.

Matt with his Boulder High School flag for the summit.

Matt with his Boulder High School flag for the summit.


While this Himalayan climbing season has been forever marred by the tragic events of April 18th, there are still some amazing stories unfolding. When Colorado climbers Mike Moniz, Matt Moniz, and Jim Walkley left for the region in the early spring, they already had ambitious plans. They were going to be the first people to summit three separate 8000-meter peaks in one season. As they were acclimating on Cho Oyu, the sixth highest peak in the world, news of the calamity on Everest reached them.


If alpine climbers have one defining characteristic it would be their ability to push on through good times and bad. Instead of waving the white flag and surrendering, the group has reached out to the Chinese government for permission to attempt to climb Everest from their side of the mountain. So far the Chinese have declined to issue a permit.


On the top of Cho Oyu. Jim is orange on right, Mike and Matt are in orange in middle.

On the top of Cho Oyu. Jim is orange on right, Mike and Matt are in orange in middle.

The group successfully summited Cho Oyu on May 17th and then decided to split up. Matt headed to Makalu; plan B, with guide Willy Benegas. Jim and Matt are staying down low, focusing on securing permission to attempt Everest via the North Col route.


In the two days that Matt has been climbing Makalu, he has covered over 3200 vertical feet reaching Camp 2 yesterday afternoon. He and guide Benegas are planning on covering the last 6000 feet over the next two days, topping out at 27,825 feet around midnight Saturday the 24th. If all goes well they will descend the mountain during the 25th then helicopter to Advanced Base Camp for the attempt on their third summit with Jim and Mike. I can only wish them well as they attempt to conquer the fickle hand of fate, government bureaucracy, and some of the largest mountains in the world.


Matt Moniz and Willie Benegas while climbing.

Matt Moniz and Willie Benegas at Camp 2 on Makalu.

They will be telling about their trip at REI upon return.


REI Denver: June 11

REI Boulder: June 18