Above the Clouds: The Incredible Story of Matt Moniz

Matt Moniz is no regular kid from Colorado. At the age of 9, after spending his early years enjoying the great outdoors with his adventurous family, he set his sights on the world’s tallest mountain – Everest – and decided there and then that he would, one day, reach the summit. However, what started off as a young boy’s ambitious dream became a complicated – and often, extremely challenging – journey that occupied more than a decade of his life.

Matt Moniz holding florescent yellow skiis which match his jacket
Source: Facebook / Matt Moniz

During that time, Matt accomplished more than most experienced adult mountain climbers do in their entire lifetimes – and, as a result, he now proudly holds multiple records related to mountaineering. He’s also faced his fair share of adversity, having his big plans ruined by one deadly avalanche and then being directly involved in another that marked the deadliest day that Everest has ever seen. Finally, however, at the age of 20, Matt has realized his dream. Here, we present the incredible story of Matt Moniz’s journey that took him above the clouds.

A Childhood in the Great Outdoors

Matt Moniz grew up in Boulder, Colorado, with his twin sister Kaylee and their parents. They lived comfortably, with the great outdoors as a huge part of their lives. Matt later recalled of his childhood: “When my sister and I were growing up, we would always be hiking around outdoors, and we thought it was kind of normal.”

Matt Moniz as a child
Source: climb7.com

“We grew up skiing and hiking a lot,” he continued. That’s quite an understatement – the Moniz family would regularly explore nature (of which there’s a lot in Colorado!) for days at a time, camping in the wilderness, mountain biking, and trekking for miles. Matt was also a competitive freestyle skier as a child and enjoyed a good deal of success.

The Beginning of Many Adventures

Matt’s outdoor adventures were only just beginning, however. “I started big mountain climbing when I was nine,” he recalled in an interview when he was 20. This was purely by chance: “We went to Nepal because my dad was on a business trip, and I got to tag along. We were in the Himalayas. Just being there sparked my passion for climbing.” And a passion it was – it was to mark the beginning of a way of life that was in stark contrast to most children’s.

A signpost ‘way to Mount Everest’ with flags all around and snow-capped mountains in the background
Photo by Daniel Prudek / Shutterstock

Matt’s father, Mike, had always planned to climb 18,000 feet to the Mount Everest Base Camp during this business trip – for him, it was an opportunity that he couldn’t pass up. He had planned to do this with a friend of his, but unfortunately, his friend had to drop out at the last minute. Matt was ready to jump on board straight away to take the friend’s place, and Mike thought that he’d be able to handle it.

A Taste of the Mountains

So Matt accompanied his father and experienced his first taste of mountain climbing. He reached the base camp without any problems – a considerable achievement for a nine-year-old. Not only did he realize that he’d discovered a new outdoor activity that he loved, but he also realized that he was perfectly capable of climbing in areas that many experienced adult mountaineers found challenging.

Matt Moniz and his crew in front of the signs that they made it to the top of Kilimanjaro
Source: climb7.com

He expressed his desire to keep climbing to his family, and they were delighted – especially Mike, who was an avid mountain climber himself. The family set about planning more adventures – this time, including mountaineering as well. They set a date for the following year, which gave Matt enough time to prepare himself for his first summit experience.

Unwavering and Unconditional Support

Speaking years later about his family’s strong support when it came to pursuing his climbing ambitions, Matt told Andrew Skurka: “My Dad has always gone with me on all of my climbs, and we’ve had some super cool experiences together. Dad and I are a team and share a special bond, like all climbers.”

Matt Moniz and his friend in a tent on one of their hikes
Source: climb7.com

And, although Matt’s mother isn’t as much of an avid climber as her husband, son, and daughter, she wasn’t about to stand in Matt’s way, either. “Both of my parents have been very supportive of my climbing, as long as I promise not to get hurt or miss too many days of school,” Matt said in the same interview.

Conquering Peak After Peak

One year later, in 2008, Matt and his father successfully summited Mount Elbrus – the highest peak in the whole of Europe. It was quite an achievement, but it didn’t satisfy Matt’s new craving to climb. In the same year, aged just 10 years old, Matt and Kaylee, accompanied by their parents, reached the summit of Tanzania’s Mount Kilimanjaro – the highest peak in Africa.

Matt and his father with another father and his kids towards the top of the mountain
Source: climb7.com

2008 was a busy year for Matt, as he then went on to conquer the highest peak in the Americas – Aconcagua, which is located in the Andes mountain range in Argentina. He was the youngest person ever to reach the summit, which served as an inspiration to break more climbing and mountaineering records.

Climbing for a Good Cause

In 2009, Matt decided to incorporate his mountain climbing with raising money for charity. One of his good friends suffered from pulmonary arterial hypertension, a rare, progressive disorder characterized by high blood pressure (hypertension) in the arteries of the lungs (pulmonary artery) for no apparent reason – and Matt wanted to do something to help.

Matt Moniz on skiis on the side of a mountain during a storm
Source: climb7.com

Matt’s friend Iain had suffered from pulmonary arterial hypertension for his whole life, and Matt had witnessed first-hand just how much the condition affected him. Once Matt started mountain climbing, he was able to relate to Iain somewhat – he realized that the feeling of having difficulty breathing at high altitudes was similar to what Iain dealt with every day of his life.

The 14 14,000 Peaks

As a result of his new-found empathy for his friend, Matt spent some time deliberating as to what he would do to raise money for the Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension Association. He thought about attempting to climb one of the biggest peaks in the US – or even the whole of North America or another continent — but it didn’t seem enough to the young boy. He wanted to do something that would really make an impression.

Matt Moniz as a child on a hike
Source: climb7.com

The effort began with a plan to climb the 14 14,000-foot peaks in Colorado in just 14 days – an ambitious task by anyone’s standards. And, as Matt was still only 11 years old, many thought he might be pushing himself too far. He defied the odds, however, and managed to summit all 14 peaks in only 8 days.

He’s One to Watch

It was clear that there was something special about this young mountain climber and that he was one to watch. In total, Matt raised an impressive amount of money for PAH sufferers – more than $20,000 – and received national recognition for his efforts. During a United States Congress session on December 11, 2009, US Congressman Jim Langevin paid a special tribute.

Matt Moniz climbing up a snowy mountainside
Source: climb7.com

He entered Matt’s accomplishment into the Congressional Record, which was an incredible honor for the young boy, who began to wonder what challenge he could set himself next. His father, Mike Moniz, was also an avid climber, and Matt began to think of ideas that they could do together. It wasn’t long before they came up with the biggest mountaineering challenge either of them had faced before.

Climbing to 50 Points

Matt and Mike decided that they would reach the highest points in all 50 states in the US as quickly as possible – breaking the record that was held at the time if they could. It was an ambitious target for anyone, let alone a 12-year-old, but considering the experience he already had under his belt, it was worth giving it a shot.

Matt Moniz mid-climb with other climbers behind him
Source: climb7.com

From early June to mid-July 2012, Matt and his father climbed and climbed. The highest peak in each state was successfully reached – from Florida’s 345-foot Britton Hill to Alaska’s 20,320-foot Denali. It wasn’t without its challenges – on Washington’s Mount Rainer, for example, they got caught in a severe storm before making the final push to reach the summit.

The Loop of Pain

The hardest part of the entire challenge, according to both members of the father-and-son team, was what they now refer to as “the loop of pain” – namely, Montana’s Granite, Wyoming’s Gannet, and Utah’s King’s Peak. They each required at least a 32-mile trek – and by the end of the loop, both Matt and Mike were feeling the effects quite dramatically.

Matt Moniz on a hike
Source: National Geographic

It didn’t dash their hopes of finishing what they started, however, and finally, the pair stood on the summit of Hawaii’s Mauna Kea, their 50th peak, on July 16, 2016, and stopped the clock at 43 days, 3 hours, 51 minutes and 9 seconds. It was the fastest time that the challenge had ever been completed, so both Matt and Mike went down in the history books.

A Double World Record

Matt, however, held one more record – the youngest person ever to pull off the feat. As a result, he received international attention and was named the 2010 Adventurer of the Year by National Geographic Magazine. Moreover, he became the youngest person ever to receive this prestigious award – something he can still claim to this day!

Matt Moniz and friends climbing up the side of a cold, snowy mountain
Source: Facebook / Matt Moniz

If you thought Matt would take a break after his busy and tiring summer, you’d be wrong – he decided to write a book with National Geographic Learning named High Points, which focused on his accomplishment and what he learned from it. It was distributed as a Ladders Reading/Language Arts 4 book for children to help with their learning and development, and encourage outdoor activities.

Pushing Above the Highpoint

In 2011, Matt became the focus of a short documentary that was titled “Pushing Above the Highpoint”. It was, of course, centered around his 50-peak challenge and his mission to raise money and awareness for PAH. It provided another great platform for Matt to tell his story and encourage others to get out and enjoy nature in any way possible.

Matt Moniz and hikers crossing a long bridge over water
Source: Facebook / Matt Moniz

The documentary received wide praise, as well as a number of accolades. It won the 2012 Seven Summits Award at the Mountain Film Awards, was an official selection at the Vail Film Festival, Arnold Sports Film Festival, and Frozen River Film Festival, and was the second-place winner for a short documentary at the All Sports Los Angeles Film Festival.

A Chance But Fateful Meeting

During his 50-peak challenge – specifically, when he was climbing Mount Rainer, which is just outside of Seattle – Matt met another young boy named Willie Benegas, who also had a strong passion for climbing and mountaineering. Although neither boy knew it at the time, it was to become a strong friendship that would last through the years – as well as many expeditions and adventures.

Matt and his friend holding a flag at the tip of a mountain
Source: Facebook / Matt Moniz

Speaking eight years later about the moment he met his friend and climbing partner, Matt recalled that it had been “during our summit push [we] encountered an intense storm, heavy winds, snow and zero visibility which forced us back to Camp Muir.” Luckily, they were about to have a chance meeting that would turn their fortune around.

A Friend Worth Making

“We were on a record pace and were traveling light,” Matt said. “Had it not been for Willie offering us fuel and food, we would have been forced down the next day. That night we had a break in the storm and made a quick bid for the summit. No one was up there, except for Willie. He was looking for a climber that was lost in the previous day’s maelstrom.”

Mike Moniz, Jim Walkley, and Willie Benegas on top of a mountain together
Source: Facebook / Matt Moniz

According to Matt, the fact that Willie had got up early that morning to go and look for another climber touched him – as well as the fact that Willie had put the search ahead of his own climbing ambitions for the day. “It made a big impression on me, and he became my climbing hero,” Matt said years later. Matt and Willie became firm friends after their experience on Mount Rainer together and went on to join forces in many more climbs over the years.

Yet Another Ambitious Expedition

One of these adventures occurred two years later, in 2014, when Matt’s father Mike announced he was going to attempt back-to-back summits of three 8,000-meter peaks – Cho Oyu, then Everest, then Lhotse Couloir – in less than 15 days that spring. The expedition was named “The Triple 8”, and the team even planned to descend from Lhotse by skiing – the first time this had ever been attempted.

Matt Moniz holding his skiis
Source: Twitter / Climb7Moniz

However, it would not go strictly to plan. When the team was climbing Cho Oyu, there was an avalanche on Everest that killed a number of Sherpas. As a result, The Triple 8 team re-evaluated their plans out of respect for those who had lost their lives and decided to climb Makalu – the fifth-highest mountain in the world, located in Nepal – after they summitted Cho Oyu. They did so successfully, and Matt became the youngest climber to ever summit Makalu.

Triple 8 Dreams Shattered

It hadn’t been an easy feat, however – not by a long way. Speaking of the expedition some years later in an interview, Matt recalled: “On Makalu, we made an audacious attempt that should have never worked, but between the two of us and our star Sherpas, Nima and Kami, we threaded the needle but spent four days caught in the mousetrap at ABC battling a storm.”

Matt Moniz doing the trick with his skiis
Source: Twitter / Climb7Moniz

Nevertheless, they succeeded in summiting – but their Triple 8 dreams had been shattered. Everest would have to be put off for now, but both Matt and Willie knew that they’d get back there one day and conquer it. For now, they’d just have to bide their time and wait for the opportunity to arise again.

Tragedy Strikes the Mountain Again

In April 2015, Matt left for Nepal with his team for a third expedition in which he would hopefully summit Mount Everest, then Mount Lhotse, before attempting to ski the Lhotse Couloir, which is just one portion of the fourth-highest peak adjacent to Everest. They hadn’t got far, however, before tragedy struck. As they approached Everest on April 25, a severe earthquake struck Nepal – specifically, Kathmandu and the surrounding areas – triggering a huge avalanche from Pumori into the Everest Base Camp.

Matt Moniz standing next to colorful flags with a large snow-covered mountain in the background
Source: Twitter / Climb7Moniz

Reacting quickly, 17-year-old Matt took cover behind a boulder with his team as the blast of snow and ice hit the base camp at a staggeringly destructive 200 mph. At least 22 people were killed, with many more injured. “You couldn’t really see the avalanche until it was literally coming right through the clouds right on top of you,” Matt later recalled.

A Chilling Mountain Experience

In an interview a few years later, Matt gave his shocking account of exactly what happened in those terrifying moments in which the avalanche hit. “I was walking through the middle of camp with my climbing partner Willie Benegas and our Sherpa,” he said. “We felt the ground moving a lot, and we looked up, and there was a huge avalanche, a huge wall of snow coming for us.”

Matt and his team climbing around the top of Everest
Source: Facebook / Matt Moniz

He continued: “So we all jumped behind a rock and pulled our neck gators up over our faces so we wouldn’t inhale any snow and sat there for about a minute. And then after that, we kind of all got together and started to look for people and treat people.”

Being Hit by an Air Blast

The force of the air blast as a result of the avalanche created a vacuum behind the boulder where Matt, his climbing partner Willie, and their Sherpa guide were huddled, leaving them all temporarily unable to breathe. Luckily, however, it didn’t last for long, and they were able to get air into their lungs again.

Matt Moniz in a large orange jacket with blurry snowy mountains behind him
Source: Twitter / Climb7Moniz

Matt immediately began assisting the wounded and helping with other rescue efforts as best as he could. “Willie went straight to the clinic up there to do triage and first aid work, and I kind of went around and helped (carry) people,” Matt, who received first aid training as a scout, later said. “We all kind of came together as one team and really worked together and saved a lot of lives.”

Searching for a Means of Contact

After the initial pandemonium had settled down somewhat, Matt set about searching for a satellite phone or a Wi-Fi connection so he could reach his parents in Colorado. “It was kind of good because in Colorado the avalanche happened at around midnight so … they didn’t hear about it until they woke up,” he said.

Matt hiking up a snowy mountain with rocks around him
Source: Twitter / Climb7Moniz

Meanwhile, around 8,000 miles away back in Colorado, Matt’s father Mike had an indication that something was seriously wrong was when his cell phone started ringing just after 5 a.m. on a Saturday morning. “It was an odd country code, it wasn’t Nepal, and then by the time I woke up enough to realize it was a sat (satellite) phone calling in … it was gone,” Mike recalled.

Delivering Bad News Back Home

Mike tried a number of times to call the satellite number back, and finally, someone answered. “That person was on the verge of breaking down and … at that moment, I was thinking, ‘Oh no. It could be incredibly bad news about Matt,'” he recalled. After talking with the person on the phone, Mike realized that it had been Willie who tried to call him earlier.

Matt climbing up a rocky cliff on the mountainside
Source: Twitter / Climb7Moniz

Mike remembers the conversation: “I said, ‘Is something wrong?’ and he said, ‘Yes, we’ve been hit by a massive earthquake and an avalanche, and there are people dead around me. I have to go.’ He hung up. I could not get back to him. And so at that point, I had no idea what Matt’s status was.”

An Emotional Father-Son Moment

Soon after, Mike received a text from Matt that simply said: “Dad, are you there?”

“That was it,” Mike said, joking that “any teenage parent can appreciate this.” Eventually, he was able to make contact with Matt and confirm that he and Willie were ok. “He was like, ‘Dad, I cannot talk to you … there are people injured everywhere, and I have to help,'” Mike recalled. “So, it was a pretty emotional moment.”

Matt and his father wearing full gear including goggles and masks to help breathe
Source: climb7.com

Although they only talked for a few minutes, Mike claims that the scenes Matt described were “reminiscent of a movie scene.” He elaborated: “One person he was carrying with two compound fractures, they had another aftershock while he was carrying him and they were [both] thrown to the ground.”

Dealing with the Destruction

“Because it was an air blast, a lot of people were thrown,” he continued. “There’s a wide range of injuries. A lot of skull fractures and broken legs and broken arms.” It was a lot to take in for anyone, let alone a 17-year-old that had just narrowly escaped death – and Matt was fully aware of just how lucky he and his team had been.

Matt and his team at the top of Everest
Source: Facebook / Matt Moniz

“If we were a minute or two slower, it might have been a very different situation,” he said. “And talking to a lot of my Sherpas, and kitchen staff, and whatnot, I have a home to go back to. Which is amazing. But a lot of them have lost family members, and a lot of them have lost their homes.”

A City Left Unrecognizable

The earthquake had not just injured people as a result of an avalanche – the city of Kathmandu was almost completely unrecognizable, with more than 8,000 people dead and more than half a million homes destroyed. “I had a plane ticket back to Colorado and a plane ticket back to Kathmandu,” Matt said. “And my dad was like, ‘Matt, you have a choice’ – [and] I chose Nepal.”

Wreckage in Nepal after an earthquake
Source: Twitter

So, instead of returning home, Matt remained in Nepal for a month to assist with rebuilding efforts. He and Willie raised enough money to hire more than 800 porters to carry nearly 18 metric tons of supplies to people in remote areas that had been destroyed, as well as working with a team of international climbers and doctors to both care for the injured and build temporary homes and schools in the Himalayan mountains. He also helped raise money to prevent the trafficking of young girls in the Himalayas.

A Recognition of Bravery

This didn’t go unnoticed – for his heroic and compassionate actions, Matt received the Boy Scouts of America’s highest award for lifesaving – The Honor Medal with Crossed Palms. Mike couldn’t be prouder, stating, “Destiny definitely put him there to help out. More than that, he was dedicated to continue to help.”

Matt and a friend cross country skiing towards a cabin
Source: Twitter / Climb7Moniz

Matt gained a whole new appreciation for the power of nature and the role humans play in the world. “After the avalanche, I kinda took a step back and (realized) ‘Wow, we are simply just guests in these mountains,'” he said. “You really have no control.” Despite having stayed in Nepal to help with the initial relief efforts, he still wanted to do more.

An Effort for the Survivors

Matt began raising money to fund a targeted aid response to help the survivors of the earthquake. He and Willie went to Zurich, Switzerland, for a few days to meet with some wealthy business leaders associated with one of Matt’s corporate sponsors. Their goal was to assemble approximately 1,000 Nepali porters to bring supplies into remote Himalayan villages before the monsoon season began and shut down all flights.

Matt and fellow climber Alan Arnette.
Source: Facebook / Matt Moniz

According to Matt, helicopter airdrops were not enough to help villagers, particularly those living in the remote Manaslu region. “The big problem with the helicopters is that they’re airdropping a lot of these supplies off, and it’s really difficult for the local villages to be able to ration out these supplies,” he said. “Another big problem is … a lot of people haven’t done the research on the specific communities that they’re dropping on, so they could drop 20 (kilograms) of rice for 5,000 people or vice versa.”

Yet Another Terrible Tragedy

Matt and his team were incredibly successful, raising almost $100,000 before returning to Nepal to implement their aid efforts. Tragically, however, while they were in Kathmandu getting ready to leave for the remote regions, a 7.3-magnitude earthquake hit the region once again, killing people and destroying homes both in Nepal and neighboring India.

Matt walking through a dirt area with large snow-covered mountains surrounding him
Source: Facebook / Matt Moniz

It was all too familiar for Matt, who was devastated by what he was seeing happen yet again. In his National Geographic blog, he wrote: “The scene twisted my heart in ways it’s hard to comprehend, watching the already traumatized citizens of Kathmandu running through clouds of brown dust, screaming and crying, wondering why this keeps happening to them.”

Time to Help, Not Climb

It’s important to note that Matt didn’t once express any form of any disappointment about not getting the chance to reach the summit of Mount Everest or attempt the first ski descent of the Lhotse Couloir. Instead, his main focus was on helping the injured and those made homeless by the disaster.

Matt and his team on Everest
Source: Twitter / Climb7Moniz

“It’s pretty amazing for a kid who’s been that close to that mountain that many times,” Matt’s father, Mike, said. “Standing on top of Mount Everest, I’ve done it, and it’s an amazing feeling … but it’s a very personal and a very self-gratifying experience. It does nothing to change the planet we’re on … and there’s a lot of people who are suffering right now. So now is not the time to climb; now is the time to help.”

A Friend Through It All

Through all the trauma, devastation, and destruction that the two boys witnessed, one thing really stood out for Matt – how much he looked up to Willie. He realized that his friend had been a role model for all these years – and now, he was stepping up to the mark and giving Matt the strength he needed to help in any way that he could.

The silhouette of Willie in front of a mountain during one of their climbs
Source: Twitter / Climb7Moniz

“At 17,” Matt said, “This could have been a catalyst for years of therapy; instead, he reminded me of the hero I met on Rainier and the one that is in all of us, ready to respond. I’m grateful for all he’s taught me about climbing, the hours shared listening to RadioLab in base camp tents, the help with homework on expeditions, but most of all he’s made me become a better version of myself.”

A Broncos Country Hero

Although the terrifying experience with the Mount Everest avalanche had undoubtedly put a damper on the year, Matt’s heroic efforts didn’t go unnoticed, and he went on to receive a number of accolades and recognition in the months following his return to his home in Colorado. This started with Matt being recognized as a Broncos Country Hero in front of more than 73,000 fans at the Denver Broncos vs. San Francisco 49ers game.

A photograph of the Denver Broncos tickets along with a note that they will donate $500 to the charity of his choice
Source: Facebook / Matt Moniz

He was also presented with the 2015 Outdoor Inspiration Award at the Outdoor Retailer Winter Market as a tribute to his efforts in helping with the aftermath of the disaster – including his multiple fundraising efforts as well as his initial assistance with helping the injured and clearing up the destruction.

A Final Everest Attempt

In 2018, at the age of 20, Matt decided to launch another expedition to Mount Everest and attempt once more to reach the summit. Of course, Willie would be accompanying him – and together, they hoped to finally achieve their dream. Having had one plan ruined by an avalanche and then being caught directly in another, both Matt and Willie were apprehensive – but they were also determined.

Matt climbing up the side of Everest
Source: Facebook / Matt Moniz

Moreover, they now had something extremely valuable that money can’t buy – experience. Not only of climbing and mountaineering but also of natural disasters and the adversity they bring. As a result, they felt as confident as they possibly could do – and wished for luck, as they knew by then that, sometimes, it’s all about just being in the right place at the right time – or vice versa.

Finally Achieving the Dream

Finally, on May 20, 2018, Matt and Willie reached the summit of Mount Everest. They had ideal weather conditions, with no clouds and low wind speeds, so they were able to take in the scenery comfortably and fly the signed Navy’s 7th Fleet flag that had been opportunistically sent to them to take on their expedition.

Matt Moniz on the side of Everest having a hot drink
Source: Facebook / Matt Moniz

Speaking of the moment in which he achieved his life-long dream, Matt said: “I think what 2015 showed me is that standing on the summit of Everest, after achieving it now, was not as rewarding as doing relief work after the earthquake with the World Food Programme. That experience changed my life a lot more than standing on the top of the world could ever do.”

In the Name of Science

Reaching the summit of Mount Everest was not all about personal achievement, however. As mentioned earlier, Matt is a twin – and so is Willie. Therefore, before they set off on what was to be their successful expedition, they announced that they would be the lead subjects in the Everest Twin Study.

Will and Matt
Source: Twitter / Climb7

This was a study set up by Dr. Christopher Mason, a professor at Weill Cornell Medicine in New York City and leader of the NASA gene expression study that was modeled on the Mason Lab NASA Twin Study. Both Matt and Willie were to collect blood samples at various stages along the way for them to be compared with that of their respective twin to see how they genomically adapt when at such a high altitude.

Life at the Top of Our Planet

The aim of the study was to sequence both RNA and DNA from the climbers’ white blood cells to discover possible changes in gene expression caused by extreme altitude and stress. The plan was for Matt and Willie to draw blood and collect microbiome samples at Everest Base Camp and Camp Three. After that, both climbers used supplemental oxygen, which affects blood chemistry and, therefore, lowers the value of the sample. Moreover, drawing blood on the summit of Everest would be complicated – not to mention dangerous.

Matt and his twin Kaylee sitting in their back yard
Source: Twitter / Climb7Moniz

Even so, they collected microbiome samples from their eyes and face, as well as the snow and exposed earth. This is because, even at that altitude, it’s estimated that 800 million viruses land on every square meter of the planet after being transported by the virosphere. Therefore, their samples will provide the first comprehensive look at what organisms exist at the very top of our planet.

A Unique Part of the Journey

“Those results should be in in the next couple of months, but they’re still doing a lot of testing on our blood samples. I’m really excited because I will actually be able to do a little bit of work with Chris Mason on the study,” Matt said. “I didn’t want to just go to Everest and climb Everest. I think combining it with the research we did with Dr. Chris Mason was a unique part of the journey.”

Matt climbing the side of Everest attached to a rope
Source: Facebook / Matt Moniz

Although the findings of the study have not yet been published, it sounds promising – and it provided a fantastic way for both Matt and Willie to combine cutting-edge science with their passion for climbing and mountaineering.

Living the Student Life

Currently, Matt is studying at Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire. And although he’s spending a lot of his time in a classroom these days, he hasn’t had to give up his passion for mountain climbing and the great outdoors. “One of the things I really love about Dartmouth is the connection to the outdoors and the love for the outdoors shared by the people here,” he says.

Matt Minoz rappelling down a cliff with a camera crew filming him
Source: Twitter / Climb7Moniz

“I love my classes, professors and classmates, and time has been flying by, maybe a bit too fast!” he continues. “Aside from being an excellent undergraduate school, the wonderful thing about Dartmouth is that it is truly a great school for adventurers. You can find world-class climbers, skiers, kayakers, and pretty much any outdoor sport you’re interested in as a student.”

Taking His Experiences Forward

Somehow, Matt still manages to find the time to be actively involved in some of the school’s extra-curricular activities and clubs. “Besides mountaineering,” he says, “I’m active in the Ledyard Canoe Club, which brings together a great community of young people pursuing white water kayaking. Also, I’m a member of the Dartmouth Ski Patrol, which does an amazing job at training students as fully certified ski patrollers to work at the Dartmouth Ski Way.”

Matt Moniz white water kayaking
Source: Twitter / Climb7Moniz

No doubt, this touches on his experience back in 2015, when he was caught up in the huge avalanche that wiped out one of the Everest Base Camps. His efforts to save as many people as possible and then help the injured for weeks afterward have stayed with him, and he’s now able to put some of what he learned into practice.

An Endless List of Accomplishments

Matt has accomplished a lot in addition to his multiple outdoor pursuits. He is an advocate and supporter of a number of worthy organizations and causes, such as the Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension Association, the Access Fund, the American Himalayan Foundation, and Outdoor Nation – and he’s completed a huge amount of fundraising activities for each of these organizations. Usually, as you can probably imagine, these involve a range of sports and outdoor activities, for which Matt receives sponsorship.

Matt speaking to a group of second and sixth graders about his travels
Source: Twitter / Climb7Moniz

Not only that, but he’s also done his fair share of public speaking – for example, he gave the keynote address at the Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension Association’s national conference to a mixture of caregivers, patients, and doctors. It was received extremely well, and Matt was praised for his oratory skills.

About More Than Reaching the Top

Matt also presented at the 2011 BIF-7 conference in Rhode Island. Moreover, he’s sponsored by a range of big-name outdoor brands, such as Q-Force, Zambarlan, Mountain Hardware, Leki, and Dynafit. It seems like everybody associated with the great outdoors wants a piece of Matt Moniz – and he’s happy to provide it.

Matt Moniz alpine kiting
Source: Twitter / Climb7Moniz

“For me,” Matt says, “Climbing big mountains is about so much more than reaching the top. It’s the knowledge gained to advance the cutting edge of science. It’s the rebuilding of communities devastated by natural disasters. It’s instilling a passion for the outdoors in the next generation. It’s promoting awareness of a life-threatening illness to push research to the next level. The challenge isn’t that the mountain is there; it’s what I can do along the way to serve.”

Looking to the Next Challenge

So, what’s next for Matt? “When I was young,” he says, “My dad and I set this goal to climb the seven summits — the highest point on every continent — and my sister has been part of it, too. After I started climbing, I realized that there’s a lot more to climbing — there are a lot more mountains than just the seven summits.”

Matt and his friends in Kayaks
Source: Twitter / Climb7Moniz

“I think the coolest part about the seven summits is that you get to travel to unbelievable places that you would never travel to. We still have to do two more, one in Antarctica, in the middle of nowhere, and the other in Papua New Guinea, in the middle of the jungle. So those are my plans going forward, and it should be really exciting.”