Fort Collins Dentist Raising Funds So Nepalese Man Can Climb Mt. Everest
As the sun rose over Fort Collins on Sunday, October 8, 2023, fate brought two people together on the west side of Longs Peak in Rocky Mountain National Park.
At 6:30 a.m., after two hours of hiking in the dark, two strangers met. Each was alone, separately and independently, working to accomplish their lifetime goals of climbing a specific mountain. These mountains loomed tall over them for much of their lives.
Dr. Jon Anderson, a 53-year-old Fort Collins resident, wasn’t getting any younger and had the goal to climb Longs Peak since the day he moved to Colorado in 2006. He brought his family and his career ambitions with him to Colorado, like so many of us, to follow his dreams and raise his family in the most ideal place he could find.
After 17 years of raising his four children with his wife Shauna, time seemed to be moving on too quickly. Deep in his career as a dentist – now the President of Larimer County Dental Society and owner of Paragon Dental – Dr. Anderson knew his days available to complete his goal of summiting Longs Peak were getting short. Although this morning was supposed to be only training for his summit next summer, something special – magical even – seemed to be in the air as he watched the sunrise. Dr. Anderson commented to a stranger, who also was taking in the beauty of the trail in the orange glow of dawn, “Wow. Today is a perfect day for being on the mountain. It seems so magical.”
The stranger turned out to be a very unique climber. Mr. Kiran Khadka had been hiking in the dark, working towards his lifetime goal of climbing Mount Everest. Kiran, also from Fort Collins, smiled as he enjoyed the spectrum of color only a high mountain view at sunrise produces. Mr. Khadka, unknown to Dr. Anderson, had also brought his family to Fort Collins, seeking a better life in which to raise his growing family. Kiran Khadka is from the Karnali Province of Nepal. Karnali Province is the poorest and least-developed region of Nepal. Kiran, now age 49, is married, raising two small children, and works from home as a software engineer. He, too, felt the years were moving quickly and expressed to Dr. Anderson an urgency in his life pursuits.
Kiran was climbing this day to continue training for his expedition to Everest next summer. The two men began to casually chat. Maybe it was the cold, the exhaustion, or the low oxygen of the high mountain air, but an almost instant bond formed. They shared their deep love for their family and empowering commitments to bring a better life to their families than either had known as children. Both had seen poverty, fear, evil, and hardship. Both were on a soul-searching journey to climb a mountain at midlife as a statement of victory over those circumstances.
As the two climbers continued their journey upwards, Kiran’s culture and personality of kindness and generosity instinctively flowed toward the man next to him. “Dr. Jon, today is the day you summit Longs Peak,” Kiran pronounced unexpectantly as they wandered through the unearthly scene of Longs Boulder Field. Kiran – an experienced climber who is highly skilled and well-trained and has summited Long’s Peak five times – had assessed the situation and his new friend’s progress. He again proclaimed, “Dr. Jon, I know you can do it. This magical day has been given to us for you to fulfill your goal.”
As the day continued and the route got more treacherous (including areas with ominous names like The Key Hole-a notched area of the mountain you must swing your body through, The Narrows-a precarious stone ledge at 14,000 feet, only a few feet wide and a few hundred feet long, and The Trough-an area where the vertical climb and thin air produces extreme exhaustion), Kiran confidently guided “Dr. Jon,” to a successful summitting of Longs Peak, 14,259 feet in elevation. After many challenges, Kiran and “Dr. Jon” returned much later than expected and in found themselves in the dark, guided by their headlamps. Safe at the trailhead at 7:30 p.m., both could be heard explaining to their concerned wives why they didn’t deserve the tongue-lashing they were receiving.
To Dr. Anderson, Kiran’s skill, stamina, and generosity were superhuman. To Kiran, it was just another day of training for his life-long goal of being the first person from his Nepalese village to summit Mount Everest.
However, the biggest obstacle to Kiran’s success is not the grueling training he performs each week: It is the same financial challenge he and his village in Nepal have faced for most of his life, limiting what he and many exceptional people can do. This is true in Nepal and right here in Colorado. The cost to summit Everest can exceed $100,000. As a native Nepalese, and with his frugal nature, Kiran estimates his costs will be $65,000. This may prove cost-prohibitive for him with his young family. Kiran is working hard to raise the funds that his savings will not meet. His family, and now friends and people he meets like Dr. Anderson, are trying to find additional sponsors to help Kiran reach the summit of Mount Everest.
Overcoming adversity and the mountainous challenges that sometimes present themselves in life is required of us all. The examples of courage, determination, and kindness that others extend make our achievements throughout our lives possible.
These two friends who met on a magical morning on the west face of Longs Peak have much to be proud of. Working toward lifetime goals and being open to new and supportive friendships are among those accomplishments.
Those who would like to help Kiran Khadka fulfill his dream of summiting Mount Everest can do so by visiting https://www.gofundme.com/f/karnali-to-everest-expedition. For more information, please contact Kiran by email at Kiranbkhadka@gmail.com or Dr. Jon Anderson at Frontdesk@ParagonDDS.com or 970-552-7874.