First Lakota surgeon to attempt to summit the worlds highest mountain
RAPID CITY, S.D. (KEVN) -For the past five years, Dr. Jacob Weasel has been as a general surgeon at Monument Health in Rapid City.
But he set his sights on higher goals like being the first Lakota to summit the world’s highest mountain.
“In theory you can say that I’ve been training for years for this, but in honesty I did Denali. I was on Denali last summer, coming back from that I had to take time to recuperate, recover, and ever since I fully recovered, I’ve been training ever since that time,” said Weasel
Weasel first became interested in hiking while in college. His professor attempted to climb 14-thousand foot Mount Rainier but was unsuccessful.
Throughout Weasel’s medical training and residency, he always kept the idea of Mount Rainier in the back of his mind. Once he finished school, Weasel was able to summit the Mountain. That’s when he fell in love with mountaineering.
“At some point you lose track of how many it is that you’ve climbed, I couldn’t tell you at the top of my head, but it’s been a few,” said Weasel.
On Everest, Weasel expects to overcome challenges: hypothermia, frostbite, extreme weather conditions, and altitude sickness. Every year about 800 people attempt to climb this mountain. According to climbing.com, in 2018 and 2019 Mount Everest had record-breaking climber numbers of 807 and 891.
Ever since the first expedition of the mountain in the early 1900s more than 300 people have died, however, Weasel said the only thing he focuses on is the task at hand.
“It allows you to live in the present moment, unlike a lot of other times in your life. So, when you’re on the mountain I’m not thinking about it, but certainly before I leave, and at quiet times, it’s present in the back of your mind,” said Weasel.
Weasel, who will attempt to summit Mount Everest in April, said his interest in Mt. Everest was first peaked when he came across an article in 2003 about the first black man to successfully summit Mt. Everest. After this he decided to do research and see who was the first Native American and couldn’t find anything.
“And so I thought using it as an opportunity to inspire Native American youth to show them that we are as capable as anybody else to achieve whatever we want in life, that was really the goal,” said Weasel.
Weasel plans to be gone for two months as he climbs the 29-thousand foot mountain. But once he makes his ascent on Mt. Everest, he won’t be completely cut off from the outside world. Some cell service is available on the mountain, and a small antenna was provided from Space X that will connect to a satellite. This will provide Wi-Fi and allow for phone calls. Weasel said with this technology they are hoping to have the first live stream call from Everest.
When Weasel is not training or working, he is spending time with his family. Although Weasel has conquered many summits, he does love conquering being a husband to his wife and father to his kids.
“Raising them to be good solid individuals, I think that’s the greatest challenge I’ve ever had, and it’s also the greatest accomplishment,” said Weasel.
Weasel also said he hopes to raise money for his non-profit, the Wopila project. He plans to do more community service projects in Rapid City, as well as helping build three women’s health clinics in rural Nepal.
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