Climber tackles Seven Summits for Cancer Society


It took Guy Manning one attempt [*} to get to the summit of Mount Everest. The highest peak in the world is notorious for allowing climbers to get within striking distance of the summit, only to pin them down with cold and storms and send them back down the mountain short of their goal.

Denali, the highest peak in North America, still eludes him. But this summer he will make his third attempt. If successful, Mr. Manning, 41, will have completed the Seven Summits, reaching the top of each of the highest mountains on the seven continents.

Mr. Manning, a partner with Campbells, is asking for donations, not for the trip but for the Cayman Islands Cancer Society. He hopes to use this climb, as he did with his Everest trip, to help fund assistance for cancer patients, educational programs and the Cancer Society’s other efforts in Cayman.

Two years ago, Mr. Manning’s successful Everest climb raised more than $100,000 for the Cancer Society.

He decided to use his adventures to help raise money for the Cancer Society several years ago after his mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. She survived and is fine now, Mr. Manning said, but the decision to raise money for the Cancer Society was “an obvious choice.”

On his first attempt to climb Denali, also known as Mount McKinley, in 2009, his team had to turn around the day they planned to hike to the summit. Weather pushed them back, just five or six hours from hiking to the peak. On his next attempt in 2012, weather again moved in, pinning down Mr. Manning and his group for 10 days. All they could do, he said, was “lay there listening to avalanches going off.” Eventually they ran out of food and had to hike down.

Four people who had been staying in the same camp left a day earlier. They died in one of the avalanches.

Of the peaks Mr. Manning has crossed off his list – Everest in Nepal, Aconcagua in Argentina, Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, Elbrus in Russia, Vinson in Antarctica, and Puncak Jaya (Carstensz Pyramid) in Indonesia – each had its own unique challenges, he said.

Everest was cold, very cold, and the weather unpredictable. On his final, successful, attempt he had to rest for a day in the “death zone” because he had become ill. By the time he hit the summit, frostbite had started to affect his feet.

Getting to the summit, Mr. Manning said, was “an amazing feeling.” And, he added, “relief that you don’t have to take any more steps.” But then, of course, he had to hike back down.

Karma, the sherpa who helped Mr. Manning on his way up Everest, died last year in an avalanche that killed 16 sherpas who were preparing the high altitude route for the year’s climbing season. The 2013 expedition with Mr. Manning was Karma’s only time on the summit.

“I’m glad I don’t have to go back there,” he said.

Puncak Jaya, which he climbed last December, involved nine days “in knee-deep mud, surviving on biscuits.” On their first day traveling in the West Papua jungle, they were held up by a group of bandits with bows and arrows and machetes, demanding a fee to cross a bridge. Mr. Manning and a small group of other hikers and porters made it to that summit on Dec. 3.

Less than four months later, he is working on final preparations for a very different trek. Getting to Denali is itself a feat. It involves flying to Anchorage, Alaska, driving to the town of Talkeetna, taking another plane – this one equipped with skis – and getting dropped off on the mountain range in the middle of 6 million acres of wilderness.

There is no resupply, Mr. Manning said, and no sherpas or porters to share the load, as on Everest. All the food, fuel and equipment for the three-week trek have to be carried up the mountain in backpacks and on sleds.

In May, Mr. Manning will make the trip to Alaska for what he hopes will be his final push for Denali’s summit. Climbing the world’s highest peaks, dodging mudslides and avalanches, bandits and frostbite, is not a typical way to spend a vacation.

Speaking in the fourth-floor conference room at Campbells, overlooking George Town to the North Sound, Mr. Manning said the danger factor isn’t the appeal for him. “It’s the physical challenge,” he said, and traveling to some of the most remote places in the world. “It’s a pretty wild experience.”

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[*] Editor’s note: Story changed to correct the original version.


Guy Manning, pictured at Camp 4 on Denali in 2012, will make a third attempt to reach the summit in May.


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