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Two Deaf people set to climb Everest

Posted March 31, 2023 | By Renca Dunn | Daily Moth




Renca Dunn, Daily Moth Reporter: Scott Lehmann and Shayna Unger are on a mission to become the first Deaf people to climb 7 tallest summits in 7 continents. That project is called “Seeing Beyond.” Now, they are on their way to their 4th summit which will be Mount Everest. On Tuesday, April 4th, Scott and Shayna will begin their trip to climb the tallest mountain in the world, Mt. Everest.

If you recall, we interviewed them about two years ago when they climbed Mount Denali. You can check out that interview for more information with the link in this transcript. We reached out to Scott and Shayna to share some things before they start climbing Mt. Everest.

Renca: I remember the last time I interviewed you two, you mentioned that this was a goal of yours. And now the time is almost here! First I have to ask, how are you feeling? Are any nerves leading up to this?

Shayna: Good question! I think right now it’s a mix of everything. As we get closer to it, we’re feeling the pressure to make sure everything is coming together. But at the same time it’s like, wow, the time is really coming that we’ll be there in the mountains again, and be fully back into that world once again. We’re super thrilled and motivated by that. Nervous too, of course. Before any expedition, there’s that feeling of making sure we’re getting everything ready that we need to, which is nerve-wracking.

Scott: Yeah, making sure we’re not forgetting anything. We have these moments of, oh right! We need a few small things like hand sanitizer for example. So we’ll make a Walmart run to buy it. You know, it’s those little things that are left as we get to crunchtime.

Renca: Yes, I always feel like that in the leadup to different events. It comes down to those little things, that’s right. I’m curious, do you know the timeframe of how long this will take you, or is this more of a wait and see, go with the flow kind of situation?

Scott: Yeah, we do have a window of time in the sense that we’re flying out to Kathmandu, Nepal on April 4th. We’ll be staying there until April 9th and we’ll meet our team. Then we’ll all fly to the small town of Lukla which is where we’ll start our hike. That will be an eight-day journey to get to the Everest base camp. Once we arrive there, we’ll be staying there for over a month.

Renca: Whoa…

Scott: Yes, it’s a long stay but it’s crucial for our acclimation, letting our bodies get accustomed to the air to allow us to hike and climb. It’s an extremely high elevation so we need to acclimate. And once we’re ready, and it’s a good weather day, we’ll begin our trek to the summit which will likely be in the second or third week of May. We’re expecting our trip to be fully completed and back home around June. So that’s about 60 days, two months.

Shayna: Mt. Everest can only be climbed two times a year. You can either go April-May, or September-October in the fall. And that’s because the rest of the year would be impossible due to high winds and intense storms. The absolute best time scale Everest is May. Many climbers go during that time, and that’s why we’re going now so we can actually get started in May.

Renca: Yeah, that makes sense.

Scott: Really, right now when it comes to how we’re feeling, it’s kind of like we’ve been studying for this test, you know? It’s the biggest test of our lives and we’ve been studying month after month. And here we are now with only a few days left, now we’re feeling like what’s left for us to study? At this point, we have to take the test. So that’s how we’re feeling right now with Everest. It’s been nine months of training and preparation, and now we’re a week out. The only thing that’s left to do is to just go. And we’re feeling ready to go. Of course, we’re going with a mixed bag of emotions. We’re excited and looking forward to reconnecting with nature and gaining this experience, but naturally, we’re also nervous. There is some strategy involved, and this experience isn’t 100% safe. So yes, we’re bringing a mix of both emotions with us on this journey.

Shayna: Plus, there will be new experiences for us on Everest too. For example, we’ll be using oxygen as we climb and ascend through higher elevations above Camps 2, 3, and 4. That will be a new challenge for us, so we are expecting those new challenges that we haven’t experienced before. Everest is a special challenge at over 8,000 meters, so that brings with it some challenges to be nervous about.

Renca: Wow. Now, will you two be traveling with a group? I know you will have an expedition leader, so will that be one leader with just the two of you or will you be part of a group of people?

Scott: We will be connected to a team. There will be one guide with about 15 international team members, they’ll be traveling from all over and we won’t know who they are until we get there. Plus, Shayna and I will also have one-on-one guides called sherpas. We’ll all be paired up within this group. We’ll have a cook too, everyone is assigned specific roles that comprise the full team, so it won’t just be the two of us.

Renca: Is there anything you’d like to share with the Deaf community before you get on your way?

Shayna: Hmm…

Scott: We want to say that all of your support thus far means a lot to us. Truly, wow. From every corner of America, the Deaf and Hard of Hearing community has been a huge part of this journey and this project. All of your direct messages, emails, comments, and including this interview with you, all of it… It has taken our full village to make this possible, you know? And we’re not stopping here, there’s more to come!

Shayna: Much more!

Scott: Having everyone cheering us on means a lot to us!

Shayna: And we’ll be sharing a lot of updates on social media. All of that support keeps us inspired to continue our journey.

Renca: Wow! Thank you for your time, we’re so excited to keep rooting for you and we’ll definitely be following you along your journey. I look forward to chatting with you once this expedition has been completed!

Shayna: Yes, right!

Renca: Yes! Stay safe.

Scott and Shayna: Thank you.

Renca: Thank you Scott and Shayna for your time. You can check out their website for more information about their project: “Seeing Beyond.” You can see them on their social media account where you can follow their journey, see updates, etc. when they are on Mt. Everest. We included links in this transcript. We, the Daily Moth, wish Scott and Shayna the best of luck!

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