McConnell Reservist summits Mount Everest
By Tech. Sgt. Abigail Klein, 931st Air Refueling Wing
/ Published January 24, 2020
MCCONNELL AIR FORCE BASE, Kan. --
Tech. Sgt. Daniel Wehrly, was on top of the world, literally.
It’s been more than eight months since the 931st Maintenance Squadron Technology craftsman summited 29, 035 feet to the world’s tallest peak, Mount Everest, but he still remembers it as if it were yesterday.
“It was a lot of emotion and it’s impossible to put into words what you feel, and then you have to climb down,” he said.
Wehrly, a Traditional Reservist, started the summit with two friends and a team of seven local Sherpas to assist them. The two-month journey began as a personal challenge for Wehrly, an active climber who had already scaled a number of mountains in the U.S.
“I love the mountains so I saw [Everest] as a way to see if I could challenge myself both mentally and physically,” said Wehrly.
Even with his past experience, Wehrly and his friends completed additional physical training to help with their success. This required a training program through the Mountain Tactical Institute in Wyoming.
“It was eighteen months of dedicated training,” said Wehrly. Even after all that, you don’t really know how your body is going to react to all that elevation.”
His supervisor, Senior Master John Fitzpatrick, 931st Maintenance Squadron also expressed concern when he learned of Wehrly’s plans.
“I asked him if he was sure he wanted to do something like this because I knew how dangerous it was going to be,” said Fitzpatrick. “I was somewhat nervous about it, but he assured me that he was doing extensive training to prepare for the climb and he was pretty certain he could do it.”
Once Wehrly and his friends made it to Nepal in March 2019, they worked through a local company to obtain their Sherpas, and began their nine-week journal to the top.
“Each day you are climbing around 1000 meters, so you’re body slowly starts acclimating,” said Wehrly.
Despite their months of preparation, the team did encounter several natural and physical obstacles along their way. This included the theft of half their oxygen supply stashed along the way, and the natural labyrinth of the Khumbu Icefall.
Wehrly’s two team members also faced some physical challenge, including frost bite, altitude sickness and snow blindness. His friend who suffered frost bite on her finger, did not make it to the top.
When Wehrly finally made it to the top with his friend Thomas Becker on May 23, 2019, the emotions quickly set in.
“Knowing the history of Everest, and finally being there and seeing it, there’s really no way to describe what you’re feeling,” he said. “It’s incredible”
His dedication and commitment to surveying the world’s highest point was an accomplishment for him, and for those who had worried about him back at McConnell.
“I did have my doubts at first, but when I found out he did it, I was extremely proud of him for accomplishing a feat that many people in the world have tried,” said Fitzpatrick
Despite reaching the Earth’s highest point, Wehrly shows no signs of slowing down. He’s already planning his next challenge to Mount Aconcagua in the Andes Mountain range later this year.