Near-death experience inspires climber to become a nurse


DENVER — A near-death experience led an adventurous mountain climber to find a career in nursing.

Ian Overton, 34, attempted to summit Nanga Parbat a couple of years ago, but fell ill along the way. Nanga Parbat is the 9th tallest mountain in the world and is nicknamed, "The Killer Mountain."

"The summit-to-kill ratio historically is 3:1,” explained Overton. “That’s significantly more dangerous than Mount Everest”.

While climbing the 26,660 ft. tall mountain, Overton got sick.

"Somewhere around 5,400 to 5,500 meters, I started to develop high altitude cerebral edema,” he said.

Fluid started leaking into Overton’s skull and his brain started to squeeze itself. He felt nauseous, vomited and eventually hallucinated.

"For the next five nights, I started hallucinating I was a character in a book I had been reading,” he said.

By the time Overton descended and made his way to safe ground, he also developed an infection.

"Luckily, I had some of our antibiotics leftover from our expedition,” he said.

That experience inspired Overton to go back to school. In fact, he graduated from University of Colorado College of Nursing this past May and is currently working as a nurse in the burn unit at Swedish Medical Center in Englewood.

"I feel like my work matters every single day. It’s a beautiful thing,” Overton said.

Overton continues to climb any chance he gets.

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