East Valley victories: Valley teacher, coach planning to climb Everest - East Valley Tribune: Sports

East Valley victories: Valley teacher, coach planning to climb Everest

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Posted: Wednesday, March 7, 2007 12:17 am | Updated: 6:26 pm, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

When you ask a teacher what’s new or what they did over spring break, I doubt if you’ll hear “Oh, I climbed Mount Everest.”

It’s not quite spring break, but Kevin Cherilla, a physical education teacher and boys varsity basketball coach at Phoenix Country Day School is planning to do just that next month.

Joining Cherilla will be Jamie McGuiness of Project Himalaya (he lives year round in Katmandu, Nepal, but is from New Zealand), sherpas from Nepal and Tibet, and “my buddy from Colorado, a man from California, a woman from the U.K., and a man from France.”

The group will be gone for 60 days and hopes by mid to late May to reach the summit of the world’s tallest mountain, which is 29,028 feet above sea level.

And it isn’t the first time for this 38-year-old father of two to take a shot at being on top of the world.

Cherilla, who has been mountaineering for almost two decades, has covered six continents and more than 20 countries on his adventures.

“Since 1993, I have had the privilege of traveling the world with world-class, blind adventurer Erik Weihenmayer; rock and ice climbing, running marathons, biking and mountaineering,” Cherilla writes in his autobiography.

“I served as base camp manager for the NFB 2001 Everest Expedition during which Weihenmayer became the first blind person to summit Mount Everest, and the team broke five world records!

“For the past three years, I have led four successful expeditions up Mount Kilimanjaro in Africa using three different routes. I have stood on top with 52 of my 62 clients, ranging in age of 13 to 67 including a paraplegic who made it to the highest point on Kilimanjaro completely unassisted.”

For training Cherilla runs up and down Squaw Peak or Camelback Mountain at least five times a week — wearing a 40-pound weight vest.

“Some days I’ll run (Squaw Peak or Camelback) twice, back to back.”

If that isn’t enough, he also bikes and practices yoga. He said his idea is to constantly keep busy with exercise.

When I caught up with Cherilla on Monday, he was just returning from a family “fun” run-walk-ride.

I can only imagine what that entails!

When asked why climb Everest or any mountain, Cherilla offered several explanations:

“I believe all of us should challenge ourselves to reach “summits” maybe a little bit out of our reach, expanding our capabilities. Being a physical education teacher, it promotes a lifelong, healthy lifestyle and maybe that will rub off on my students and my own children.”

He also has two causes: Next Step Foundation and Freedom for Life.

Both groups help physically challenged people — some who have been disabled by accidents or war — get back on their feet, sometimes literally.

Besides the support of his family (wife Jennifer and two children, Adam, 8, and Lindsey, 6), Cherilla received a vote of confidence from the headmaster at Phoenix Country Day — Geoff Campbell.

After approaching his family with the idea of his April climb, he spoke with Campbell.

“He knows the value of worldly education for the students and appreciated the fact that what I learn will benefit them. It took him only three days to think it over, and he said, 'Go.’”

Cherilla’s family, Campbell and the students at PCDS will be able to follow the group’s progress at www.kcsummits.com.

“I will keep a daily blog of dispatches, photos and audio and video clips during the climb,” Cherilla promised. “We’ll also have satellite phones and laptops, so I’ll try to e-mail home every day.”

By the way, if you’d like to join Cherilla on a climb, he is getting a group together for a July 5-16 trip to Mount Kilimanjaro — 19,340 feet of fun. Contact him at (602) 569-2018 or visit www.kcsummits.com.


The Arizona State fencing club fared well at the recent West Coast Conference championships in Irvine, Calif.

It earned the following individual medals: Natalie Vie, first place, women’s epee; Liz Dreeland, first place, women’s foil; Reggie Barron, second place, men’s foil; as well as two second-place (women’s epee, men’s foil) and one third-place (women’s foil) team finishes.

Overall, both the men’s and women’s teams placed third.

The team is now concentrating on the U.S. Association of Collegiate Fencing Clubs national championship, March 31-April 1 at Bloomington, Ind.

Know someone who deserves mention in East Valley Victories? E-mail or call Billye Jill Paulson at bpaulson@aztrib.com or (480) 898-6862.

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