LOVELAND, Ohio -- The Loveland High School bleachers became Matt Brennan's training ground as he prepared to fulfill a lifelong ambition: Summit Mount Everest, the tallest mountain in the world.
He'll begin the two-month journey in March 2018 with a 65-person group of 10 climbers and three guides. The rest are support staff to keep them going up the mountain. It's a test Brennan began training for in childhood, and he's climbed other towering peaks such as Aconcagua and Denali in preparation.
Those journeys helped prepare him physically for the ultimate test, but he said the most important lessons he learned were about the mental stamina required to make a 29,029-foot ascent.
"Being able to keep your head in the game, be patient and stay healthy, that's a huge challenge on this mountain," he said.
He hopes the rewards will be mental and spiritual, too.
The ascent is a gateway to interaction with the remote Nepali sherpa communities that populate the mountain and build their lifestyles around it. For many of the indigenous people who live on and around Mount Everest, the mountain itself is the foundation of their economy and the center of their religious beliefs.
The climb is also a chance to join some of the greatest extreme athletes in history, Brennan added.
"For me, it's just sitting in that arena where the greatest climbers of the world have climbed," he said. "Having the opportunity to climb in their footsteps, getting a shot standing on top of the world … that has a lot of meaning to me."