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Columbus CEO reaches top of Mount Everest

May 29, 2022 GMT

COLUMBUS, Ga. (AP) — A local man was on top of the world.

Todd Ammerman, the 54-year-old CEO of Columbus construction company River City Contracting, was among the dozen climbers, plus Sherpa guides, with Madison Mountaineering of Wyoming who reached the summit of Mount Everest around 8:30 a.m. Nepal time on May 21.

His wife, Janette, was in Colorado visiting their daughter, McKenzie, as they monitored Todd’s ascent via GPS from the Garmin he wore.

Although they couldn’t directly communicate with him, they knew he was at the highest point on Earth when the Garmin informed them he was 29,032 feet above sea level.

“That was pretty fun,” she told the Ledger-Enquirer while waiting for Todd’s return flight home Wednesday. “… The whole thing was just so emotional. We were just so excited for him. We knew he was well-prepared, but you just never know what can happen on those high mountains. … We were just elated.”

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Todd now has climbed four of the peaks known as the Seven Summits, the tallest mountain on each continent. In addition to Mount Everest, he has conquered: Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, 19,340 feet; Cerro Aconcagua in Argentina, 22,000 feet; Denali, also known as Mount McKinley, in Alaska, 20,310 feet.

So he still has on his to-do list: Mount Elbrus in Russia, 18,000 feet; Mount Vinson, also known as Vinson Massif, in Antarctica, 16,050; Carstensz Pyramid, also known as Puncak Jaya, in Indonesia.

Todd’s trip to Mount Everest lasted about two months, including acclimatization time at increasing elevations in the Himalayas. Janette’s concern was eased by knowing Todd received supplemental oxygen during the climb. And when he sent her a photo upon his return to Kathmandu, she exclaimed, “Oh, my gosh! I’m so happy to see all your fingers!” So, as far she knows, he didn’t suffer frostbite.

“I’ll find that out probably on the car ride home,” she said. “He wouldn’t want to worry McKenzie and I or his parents. We don’t know any of those stories yet.”

One of those stories certainly will be about traversing the Khumbu Icefall at more than 18,000 feet.

“They literally take like painting ladders, metal ladders, and they just plop them over these crevasses, and they crawl across,” she said. “They had to go over those several times. That made me really, really nervous.”

Despite those fears, Janette said she fully supports her husband’s dangerous pursuit of his Seven Summits goal.

“It’s his dream,” said Janette, the River City Contracting office manager. “Who am I to stay in the way? I would never do that to him or my daughter. So we’ve supported him 100% all the way, his whole family and all his friends, and those back at work that have to cover for him.”

As of December 2021, according to the Himalayan Database, 6,014 different people have reached the summit of Mount Everest (some multiple times among the more than 10,000 successful attempts) since Edmund Hillary of New Zealand and Tenzing Norgay of India became the first in 1953.

And as of January 2021, according to Climber News, 305 people have died trying to accomplish the feat.