Former Army Player Prepares For Mount Everest

Mt. Everest Training Staff Sgt. Chad Jukes (ret.) uses ladder to clear crevasse 4CBy LOU PAVLOVICH, JR.
Editor/Collegiate Baseball

MOUNT EVEREST — In four short months, Harold Earls and his U.S. Expeditions and Explorations (USX) climbing team will attempt to summit Mount Everest, the tallest mountain in the world at 29,035 feet.

If everything goes as planned, the former infielder with the Army baseball team and team captain in 2015 will reach the summit of this incredible mountain.

While it will be the thrill of a lifetime, it also is one of the most dangerous quests in the world.

More than 200 people have died trying to climb Mount Everest.

Many deaths have taken place due to avalanches, injury from ice collapse or falls, exposure and health problems related to the high altitude.

Last April, a 7.8 earthquake struck Nepal and triggered an avalanche that swept through the South Base Camp as 19 people died. Two weeks later, a second quake measuring 7.3 damaged several of the trails leading to the Base Camp as they required repairs.

This trip is hardly for the faint of heart.

Earls, who was a senior at the U.S. Military Academy last spring, came up with the idea of summiting Mount Everest in November of 2014.

He felt it would be a golden opportunity to shine a spotlight on Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) which has impacted the lives of many U.S. soldiers.

PTSD is a mental health condition that is triggered by a terrifying event — either experiencing it or witnessing it. Symptoms may include flashbacks, nightmares and severe anxiety, as well as uncontrollable thoughts about the event.

Earls said that several big companies have come on board as partners to make the climb possible.

“We are very close to having the entire trip funded,” said Earls.

“All of our gear has been donated, Expedia will donate flights for all the climbers and film crew.”

USX has partnered with Sebastian Junger and Goldcrest Films for a documentary on the climb.

A four- to five-man film crew will travel to Everest with the USX team with fewer filmmakers accompanying climbers as the altitude increases.

A documentary on the climb should be ready for release by early 2017.

Earls, who now is heavily involved in Infantry School in Fort Benning, Ga., said he will leave for China on April 7.

“Once we get to China, it will take 10 days to two weeks to arrive at the base camp on the north side of Mount Everest. Our goal is to summit in late May and return home June 1-7.”

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