The Light - An Alumni Publication Winter 2014/2015 - Page 14

CONQUERING EVEREST This summer, Towne will summit Mt. Everest to raise money for YFU. “My biggest fear is of heights. Period,” Towne said. “A friend of mine, while I was an exchange student at the University of Nairobi — a choice that was motivated 100% from my YFU exchange year — asked if I wanted to climb Mt. Kenya, the second tallest mountain in Africa.” Towne thought about the physical challenge and considered the opportunity to confront his fear of heights and responded, “that sounds like a great idea!” At that moment, his addiction to climbing began. Towne’s interest in endurance sports started in Germany. He said, “Before Germany, I thought I would become a professional musician. While there, I started jogging recreationally. And then in college, I walked onto the rowing team.” Rowing proved to be very challenging from an endurance perspective, and Towne considered quitting many times. Through perseverance, “I learned to trust myself – that when faced with a tough challenge, I wouldn’t give up in the face of pain or difficulty. I grew to relish opportunities to prove that to myself over and over again.” Now an accomplished mountaineer, having climbed the tallest mountain on five of the seven continents, Asia’s Mount Everest is his next challenge. When asked about the dangers of climbing the world’s tallest peaks, Towne said, “every mountain poses certain risks. On Mount Aconcagua, the tallest mountain in South America, our expedition actually had to step over a body on the trail. Five people died during the two weeks I was on that mountain. On Mt. McKinley, two people died during my second climb. When you are on these mountains, everyone is cognizant of death.” He continued, “I am a very conservative mountain climber. I strongly believe the mountain will always be there, so when it comes to decisions that involve weather or conditions, a lot of climbers get themselves into trouble by pushing themselves when conditions suggest they shouldn’t. I don’t make decisions like that.” Towne took on his first mountain, Mount Kenya, because “it provided an opportunity to accomplish an endurance feat that involved conquering my fear of heights.” Now he continues to climb “because I love the way it takes me to remote parts of the globe. Mountaineering, like YFU, makes the world feel smaller.” “MOUNTAINEERING, LIKE YFU, MAKES THE WORLD FEEL SMALLER.” — Story complied by John Favazzo from a December 2014 interview with Towne This is not the first time Towne has mountaineered in the name of YFU. In 2011 he raised more than $5,500 through his expedition up Mt. Aconcagua. This time he hopes fellow alumni, volunteers, and friends will join him in this 29,029 ft. Everest journey by donating to YFU. As Andrew crosses crevasses and builds bridges for YFU, you too can go the distance by sponsoring his adventure. Funds raised will help YFU promote intercultural understanding, enable scholarships, and ensure teenagers the learning opportunity of a lifetime. Since the trip expenses are paid, 100% of all donations are tax deductible. Can you donate a penny per meter ($88.48)? DONATE Or how about a penny per foot ($290.29)? Opposite: Andrew Towne holds up a YFU flag atop Carstensz Pyramid, the tallest mountain on the continent of Oceania; July 2011. 14 | The Light • YFU