CONIFER, Colo. (KDVR) — On a sunny June morning, Lara Daniel hit a hiking trail at Beaver Ranch Park in Conifer with her 5-year-old malamute husky named Summit.
With a dog named Summit, there’s no doubt Daniel is a mountaineer. She’s taken this extreme sport to ear-popping altitudes.
“I really like to challenge myself, see where my bar is, and then keep going higher,” Daniel said.
Daniel’s goal is to climb the “Seven Summits,” a challenge comprised of the highest mountains on each of the seven continents. After scaling four of them, she set her sights on Mount Everest, which checks in at 29,032 feet.
“As a mountaineer, it’s something you look at and say, ‘Yeah, I’ll give that a go,’” Daniel said.
The six-week odyssey followed a six-month training program. Thin air made the ascent arduous and grueling. Daniel’s group reached Camp 2, the halfway point of the journey up Mount Everest, just 7,000 feet from the summit.
Health concerns forced her to call off the quest.
“It took a lot of back and forth internally, and (I had) a lot of emotions,” Daniel recalled. “Yeah, I had to make the call. I had to be safe.”
A looming date with Denali
Turning back with the ultimate summit in sight was a tough pill to swallow for Daniel. But she isn’t done with Mount Everest.
“We’re going to go back one more time. I’m not going to be an Everest chaser. People might laugh (at that and say), ‘Well, you’re going back again,'” Daniel joked. “But I’m going to give it (another try). It’s such a big trip that if can’t get it in twice, then I have to be OK with that.”
Daniel has a date with Denali, North American highest peak, in 2023. She’ll take another shot at Everest in 2024.
Until then, Daniel will enjoy her time with Summit while dreaming about the adventures that lie ahead.
Daniel is a member of Denver Pet Partners, a Denver-based non-profit organization that is dedicated to improving the lives of humans through animal interaction. She raised more $12,000 through donors, who received special updates during her journey to Mount Everest.
Daniel donated that money to Denver Pet Partners.