Reporting Edgar Linares
MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – A total of six Minnesotans from the west metro will be taking on Alaska’s Mount McKinley. Two of them — Brian Honkomp and Christian Gilbert — are teachers at Clearwater Middle School in Waconia.
“We’re not climbers, we’re teachers,” Gilbert said. “We go out and teach through adventure. I don’t ever want to consider myself a climber. I’m an educator and that’s our No. 1 goal.”
Gilbert’s a world geography teacher and Honkomp’s an earth science teacher. They’ll provide live satellite updates and a traveling curriculum through their website — www.go4thesummit.com.
The adventure is mostly for their students who are big fans of the duo’s travels. The tandem calls their trips “education expeditions.”
“We will interface through Google Earth and the kids can go right to Google Earth and see where we are on the glacier,” Gilbert said. “And then they will get a little lesson of the day. It’s stuff we feel is interesting.”
The group is made up of Gilbert, Honkomp, two former students and two other friends. They’ll leave from the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport on Saturday, June 15. They’ll step on Denali’s glacial surface on Sunday. Each will carry approximately 150 pounds of gear. The trip could last up to three weeks if the weather doesn’t cooperate.
“Our whole point in this is being safe, coming back, and trying to motivate out students to look beyond the walls of the classroom,” Gilbert said.
Denali’s peak sits at 20,320 feet above sea level. For the most part, the state of Minnesota sits at 1,000 feet above sea level.
“Our team has spent the last 10 months exclusively studying every last inch of this mountain,” Gilbert said.
This will be Gilbert’s sixth “educational expedition,” as he’s climbed five of the seven highest continental points in the world. And he’s not ruling out climbing Mount Everest.
“It’s very expensive and a big time commitment,” Gilbert said. “I can’t ever say ‘No.’”
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