Matthew Moniz is one 13-year-old who has already started accumulating quite a climbing resume, having reached the summits of Denali, Kilimanjaro, Cerro Aconcagua and Mount Elbert, to name a few. Besides a love of the outdoors, this Boulder, Colo., native has another driver for his discipline: to raise funds and awareness for pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH), high blood pressure in the arteries of the lungs, from which his best friend Iain Hess suffers.
In July 2009, Moniz launched an expedition to climb 14 of Colorado’s 14,000-foot peaks in 14 days. He and his team reached the summits in just eight days and raised $20,000 for PAH research through the Iain Hess Breath Easy Fund.
In addition to being the youngest alpinist on the Mountain Hardwear Athlete Team, he also serves as an Outdoor Nation Ambassador and attended the Outdoor Nation’s Youth Summit in New York City, June 19-20, 2010.
Members of our SNEWS Youth Reporting Team caught up with Moniz at Outdoor Retailer Summer Market 2010 to ask him about his mountaineering trips and get his take on how to get more youth recreating outdoors.
SNEWS: How have you spent your summer outdoors?
Matthew Moniz: So this summer, (my dad and I) climbed 50 peaks and the high point in each state to raise money for my best friend, Ian, who has pulmonary arterial hypertension. It’s a heart and lung disease. We raised $25,000 and we did it in 43 days. I just had a great time; it was the funnest thing I’ve ever done.
SNEWS: About your climbing, are there any health risks related to a kid climbing these mountains?
Moniz: A little bit. There is high altitude, but we really taken a big precaution. So far, I’ve done perfectly fine at high altitude, no brain damage or anything like that.
SNEWS: What sort of precautions do you take?
Moniz: We make sure we have an extra long trip so we can go really slowly and acclimate perfectly so we don’t get high-altitude pulmonary edema.
SNEWS: What’s your favorite part of coming out here to the Outdoor Retailer show?
Moniz: I can’t even explain how cool it is seeing all the new gear for the season and try it out and meet all these cool people.
SNEWS: How do you feel we should get more young people, like you, involved in the outdoors?
Moniz: If the youth start having less and less respect for the outdoors, they’ll start turning parks into cities. It will all go bad. As soon as a kid gets in the outdoors, they’ll be more like, “Why am I sitting here watching TV? Why am I not out there?” The outdoors is so much more fun than indoors.
SNEWS: What are some strategies that will get people inspired about the outdoors?
Moniz: The easiest way is to just take them outdoors and show them how fun it is.
SNEWS: How would you get kids in urban environments in touch with the outdoors?
Moniz: It’s a big difference if a kid lives in a little town in the mountains. They probably lived their whole life in the outdoors, rather than a kid who lives in the middle of New York City. The (Outdoor Nation) Youth Summit was a good way to show kids that parks in the cities are really cool and that’s an easy way to get outdoors.
--Audrey Goss with Nitish Nag, SNEWS Youth Team Reporters
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