Dave Mauro climbed the steep incline, knowing the end was near. He stepped onto the summit, looked out at the twinkling lights of Nepal and Tibet and said to himself, “Thank you.” It was 3:42 a.m. on May 20, 2013, as he reached the top of Mount Everest.
A Bellingham resident, Mauro began climbing mountains in 1992 when he took on Mount Baker. After he decided he would never do it again, he got a call from his brother-in-law, who asked him to be part of a documentary about climbing Mount McKinley. Mauro said this was during a low time in his life, and he needed something to feel good about, no matter what the feat might be. “It’s not that I thought I could get to the top of McKinley, I just wasn’t afraid to fail,” he said. Despite doubts, Mauro made it to the top in 2007. Once again, he decided to “retire” from mountain climbing. Shortly later Mount Kilimanjaro appeared in his dreams. After extensive training, which involved hiking up Pine and Cedar Lakes Trail with gallons of water in his pack, he made the climb up Africa’s highest summit. “It was such a life-affirming experience,” Mauro said. “I came back feeling renewed.”
Mauro continued to climb the rest of what are known as the “Seven Summits,” or the highest summit in each of the seven continents, including Mount McKinley, Kilimanjaro, Aconcagua, Mount Elbrus, Mount Vinson, Carstensz Pyramid and Mount Everest. For his final climb, Mount Everest, he decided to climb for a cause. Mauro was inspired by his younger sister’s work with The Boys and Girls Club. She spoke to legislators about the importance of the club. “Like most nonprofits, the big challenge is having the money to keep the doors open,” he said. “There is a need.”
What Mauro loves most is the constructive and empowering positivity at The Boys and Girls Club. He began by calling the Club of Whatcom County and telling them about his idea to raise money. Mauro then wrote to his employer at UBS Financial Services about his cause. “I just wrote an email and they sent a $10,000 check,” he said. “I’m really proud of them.”
Not only did community members respond, but also donations began pouring in from all over the world, including support from individuals in the Dominican Republic and England. Mauro’s philosophy on raising money for The Boys and Girls Club was to develop a wide base of support. “I would rather have 30,000 people donate $1 than one contribution of $30,000,” he said. Anyone who donates to the cause became part of the “Everest Team.” Mauro’s goal is to raise $29,029 to represent a dollar for every foot Mount Everest’s summit. As of July, he had raised $24,500. Though he completed his climb in May, he is confident he will succeed in reaching the goal.
Like raising money, climbing Mount Everest was not an easy feat. Mauro said the nice thing about climbing is that life becomes very simple: he was either tediously bored waiting around during the climb or facing serious life-threatening conditions. Unlike most people who attempt the Seven Summits challenge, he reached each on the first try. “If you think about the summit, it will crush you,” Mauro said. “You have to just find the joy day to day.” He shared an example of one surprising moment of joy. He realized if he held his cheese packet under his armpit it would melt it. He could then mix it into his freeze-dried mashed potatoes and have cheesy potatoes.
Mauro says upon reaching the top of Mt. Everest, he felt an emotional release, if not tears. “I realized I’d actually gotten there, and there was this feeling of pure love around me,” he said. “Climbing for Kids” continues to accept donations on The Boys and Girls Club of Whatcom County website. Mauro also keeps a blog about his personal journey about climbing at mauroeverest.blogspot.com