Breathitt man plans to climb Everest

jwarren@herald-leader.comAugust 11, 2009 

Breathitt County's Martin Douthitt says he's going for it.

Douthitt confirmed Tuesday that he's planning an attempt to climb Mount Everest, Earth's tallest mountain, sometime next March.

Douthitt, who has pondered whether to tackle Everest for several years, said he finally decided to go ahead after his successful climb of Alaska's Denali, also known as Mount McKinley, in June.

More than 200 climbers have died on Everest, located on the Tibet-Nepal border.

"I had changed my physical training schedule and I think it really paid off," he said Tuesday. "When I got to the summit of Denali I felt like I still had more left in the tank."

Douthitt, 63, plans to make the attempt on Everest in partnership with Baptista Kwok, an oral surgeon from Seattle, whom he met while climbing Denali.

"We were tent mates," Douthitt said. "He really wants to go to Everest, and we've been exchanging e-mails and phone calls about it almost every day. Finally, we said, 'Let's do it together."'

Douthitt runs a landscaping and hardware business at Jackson. But he became interested in mountain climbing as a boy, and became obsessed after reading a book on mountaineering in 1999.

Soon afterward, Douthitt set off on a quest to climb the so-called Seven Summits — the highest peaks on the seven continents.

One by one, he knocked off six of them.

Each success brought Douthitt closer to the decision of whether to take on Everest, the tallest of them at all 29,028 feet.

Several times, Douthitt said he wouldn't attempt Everest. It was too demanding, the trip was too expensive, he couldn't take the time away from work.

But having climbed Denali, he essentially had nowhere left to go but up Everest.

"Having done Denali, I felt more prepared for Everest," he said. "I just feel that if I'm going to do it, I might as well do it now."

Reach Jim Warren at (859) 213-3255 or 1-800-950-6397 Ext. 3255.

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