Man reaches new heights during climbing world tour
Last week Claremont native Tom Bicksler climbed Russia’s Mount Elbrus, the highest peak in Europe, as he continues his quest to reach the highest point in all seven continents.
In May of 2015 The COURIER printed a profile on Mr. Bicksler prior to an expedition up Mount McKinley which is the highest point in North America and was to be his third top peak. However his team got caught in a snowstorm at 14,000 feet and did not reach the summit.
Mr. Bicksler hatched the idea to summit all seven top peaks in 2012 after he climbed Mount Kilimanjaro. In the process he hopes to raise awareness about diabetes and Crohn’s disease by showing that a person can still be a top athlete even with limitations of chronic diseases. Mr. Bicksler was diagnosed with diabetes ten years ago and Crohn’s a short while later.
The Mount Elbrus trip took ten days, four of which were taken up with travel to the relatively remote location. Once he and climbing partner Edgar Para reached the mountains they spent three days sleeping in barrel huts at 12,000 feet just to acclimatize. On the fourth day they got a break in the weather and made one big push to the 18,510-foot peak, and then retreated again to the barrel huts.
On the day they summited many other top climbers did so as well. “It was like a freeway up there,” he said. “Everyone was sitting in camp waiting for a clear day and then you get that good day and they all make a run for it.”
Even without the adventure on Elbrus, 2016 was still a big year for Mr. Bicksler. On July 2nd his mother Joan Bicksler, who had lived in Claremont for 35 years, died from brain cancer. Then 12 days later he married Allison Bicksler in a formal ceremony Las Vegas. He dedicated the Elbrus expedition to the memory of his mother.
Next year Mr. Bicksler and his climbing partner will make a second attempt at McKinley.
“I wanted to give my body a rest and not jump back into it. [McKinley]” said Mr. Bicksler. “I really did not have the time to train dealing with my mom, for a big climb like McKinley.” For people like Mr. Bicksler, Elbrus is a relatively easy endeavor.
Mount Everest, the tallest mountain in Asia and the highest place in the world is scheduled for 2018.
“It worked out this year,” he said about Elbrus, “I am staying positive.”