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Beaver Valley man climbs highest mountain in Western Hemisphere

Rick Byers climbs highest mountain


Rick Byers is happy to be back home in Grey County after a three week expedition climbing the highest mountain in South America. At 6962m/22,800ft Aconcagua is the highest peak outside of the Himalayas. "It was an extreme adventure," said Byers.

A group of four climbers and two guides spent almost two weeks progressively advancing toward the planned summit attempt on January 21st. "Our guides did a great job moving us through various camps to ensure we were adjusting to the altitude, managing the extreme weather, and keeping healthy," said Byers. "They gave us the best chance to successfully reach the summit."

On summit day, the winds were calm and the group left for the summit at 5am. It was intensely cold but the group kept advancing. By early afternoon however, only about 200m in altitude from the top, three of the climbers had to descend due to exhaustion. Byers, accompanied by one of the guides, was able to keep going and the two reached at 4:30pm. "It was an incredible feeling to stand on the top after such a grueling climb," said Byers.

The expedition had special significance for the composition of the guiding team. One of the guides, Jeremy Blair, is a Canadian veteran of Afghanistan who is transitioning out of the military and starting a guiding business to facilitate his transition. He and Byers were on a previous climb together in Antarctica in 2016. "It was very special to do this climb with Jeremy," said Byers. "He served Canada with distinction and has lived with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) for having done so. To help with his transition by supporting him in guiding meant a lot to me and to him," he added.

This is the third of the world's Seven Summits (the highest mountain on each of the world’s seven continents) that Byers has successfully climbed. In January 2016, he and Mr. Blair were part of a group of civilians and Canadian veterans that went to Antarctica to climb Mt. Vinson in support of the True Patriot Love Foundation. And last January, he and his wife Margot climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro in Tanzania. Rick and Margot live near Kimberly in the Beaver Valley.



Photo supplied by Rick Byers



Photo supplied by Rick Byers


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