BOULDER, Colo. — Matt Moniz, the 11-year-old Boulderite who became the youngest person ever to summit Argentina's 22,841-foot Cerro Aconcagua last December, has set his sights on a daunting new project.
Starting Friday, he and a group of family and friends will attempt to climb 14 of Colorado's 14ers in 14 days to raise money for an ailing friend, Ian Hess.
So far, Moniz has raised about $14,000. Details of the climbing project are on Moniz's Web site, http://www.climb7.com/. "Basically, he's my best friend," said Matt, who grew up next to Ian in Boulder Canyon.
Nine-year-old Ian has pulmonary arterial hypertension and requires about $100,000 in annual medical treatment and medicines, according to Matt's father, Mike Moniz, who owns a local software company.
The money from Matt's fundraising climb will help with treatments that are not covered by insurance. Eventually, the Hess family hopes that stem-cell therapy or gene therapy can improve their son's health, Moniz said.
About 10 people, including classmates from Boulder's Flatirons Elementary, will accompany Matt at various points on his 14 summit attempts, with his father and Ian's father, John Hess, joining him on every climb.
Besides raising funds for Ian, Matt said the series of climbs is a way for him to walk in his friend's shoes.
"Ian is always struggling for oxygen because of his illness," said Matt, who conceived of this latest climbing project to redirect attention from his success on Aconcagua to his friend's illness. "What I feel on top of mountains is what he feels every day."
Here are the 14er’s he plans on climbing:
Torreys Peak: 14,267 feet
Grays Peak: 14,270 feet
Quandary Peak: 14,265 feet
Mount Elbert: 14,433 feet
Mount Belford: 14,197 feet
Mount Oxford: 14,172 feet
Mount Missouri: 14,067 feet
Mount Harvard: 14,420 feet
Mount Yale: 14,196 feet
Mount Shavano: 14,229 feet
Mount Tabeguache: 14,155 feet
Mount Antero: 14,269 feet
Mount Bierstadt: 14,060 feet
Mount Evans: 14,264 feet
I personally know how tough it is to climb a 14er, I climbed Grays and Torrey’s Peaks a few years ago. Not only is it tough on your legs, it is extremely tough on your lungs. It took me a couple of days to recover, I can’t imagine doing 14 in 14 days! I wish Matt and his crew the best of luck!