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Renowned mountaineer Brent Bishop takes science & stewardship to new heights
Eva Foster
March 15, 2012 - 4:23pm

Brent Bishop, a member of NatureBridge's Olympic Advisory Board, has summited Mount Everest twice and plans to climb it again in May. Last week, he talked about his mountain climbing trips and passion for protecting the world’s natural places with a group of students at B.F. Day Elementary School.

The Seattle fourth graders in Janet Sawyer’s class were proud to share that they had one achievement under their belts that Brent does not: during their NatureBridge program in Olympic National Park in October, they hiked to the top of Mount Storm King.

“You guys have climbed Mount Storm King, and I have not!” Brent admitted. “That’s a huge mountain when you’re this age!”

For the past 10 years, Ms. Sawyer’s students have successfully summited Mount Storm King, and this class worked together to overcome the challenges of a steep, rocky climb to meet their goal of bringing every B. F. Day fourth grader to the top.

Having achieved this goal, the students were eager to hear about Brent’s challenges and successes climbing Mount Everest.

The mountain climbing ecosystem

Brent connected mountain climbing to their recent ecosystem unit, asking the students, “What are the basic needs for an animal to survive in any ecosystem?”

“Shelter, food, water, sunlight, and air,” came the answer from an eager student.

Like all animals, climbers also have these basic needs and require lots of specialized gear to meet their needs in the unwelcoming environment of the world’s tallest mountain, Brent explained.

He pulled out some of his mountain climbing gear from a large pack: enormous boots, bright blue down climbing suit, ropes, and an ice ax.

Stewardship on Mount Everest

Brent described his efforts to clean garbage from the camp sites along Mount Everest’s slopes. The impact of efforts by Brent and other climbers is evident: students gasped when they saw a photo of oxygen tanks randomly tossed on the packed ice and snow followed by a photo of the same location five years later, free of any human garbage.

“Go outside,” Brent said, “and if you see any trash out there, you’ve got to pick it up.  It’s really easy to make things look better, whether it’s outside your school or hiking or in a national park.”

How does it feel to climb Mount Everest?

“You are so tired, and you work so hard to get to the top. You are inspired, you feel like you are on the top of the world. You can see the curvature of the earth. One of the hardest things is to be safe getting down. When you get to base camp, then you can relax and be happy.”
—Brent Bishop, NatureBridge board member and member of the Mount Everest Speakers Bureau

Brent encouraged the fourth graders to continue exploring Olympic National Park and other natural spaces.

“You’ve got a whole world out there. You’ve got Mount Rainier, you’ve got the Cascades—you guys are amazingly lucky.”

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