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Montana students learn challenges, thrills of climbing Mount Everest

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BOZEMAN – One of the expeditions on Mount Everest this spring involves Montana State University geologist David Legeson, MSU student Travis Corthouts, Bozeman alpinist Conrad Anker, and Livingston climber/photographer Kristoffer Erickson.

The climbers left Bozeman in mid-March, arrived at base camp April 1 and hope to reach the summit in mid-May. At 29,035 feet, Mount Everest is the world’s tallest mountain.

More than 1,000 students across Montana are following the expedition, and are using some of the same equipment in the classroom that the climbers are using on Mount Everest, said Suzi Taylor, assistant director of outreach and communication at MSU’s Extended University. Extended University prepared 40 teacher kits and eight lesson plans to be used in Montana as the climbers ascend the mountain, Taylor said.

Students whose schools applied and were selected to receive the kits can now climb local hills and take GPS readings with expedition-quality equipment. They received time-lapse cameras, geologic rock hammers, and waterproof tablets for data observation. They also have maps to follow the climbers’ progress.

“The students are really jacked up. Some days it is hard to get them to think about the other parts of their education,” said Bill Lee, who teaches fifth and sixth graders at Winifred School, located in north-central Montana between Havre and Lewistown.

A grant from the Dennis and Phyllis Washington Foundation allowed the program to double the number of kits available to schools. The MSU Leadership Institute is supporting Corthouts’ travel, so he can send updates and photos back to classrooms.

The lessons cover meteorology, geology, climate science, the history/culture of Everest, glaciology and biodiversity. The educational outreach project was developed through a partnership with the Montana National Science Foundation EPSCoR program.

The expedition is sponsored by The North Face and National Geographic. Follow the team’s dispatches, photos and videos at Find more expedition coverage at and

This article was adapted from one originally written by Evelyn Boswell for the MSU News Service.

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