MINNEAPOLIS-When Andrew Towne reached the top of 14,065-foot Mt. Bierstadt in Colorado last weekend, he pulled a sandbag out of his pack and dumped it on the summit.
The other person on the mountain gave him a strange look.
It seems odd to climb a mountain with a sandbag, but not for the 2000 Grand Forks Central graduate.
Towne, who has climbed the tallest mountain on six of the world's seven continents, is leaving today for the biggest challenge yet.
Towne is attempting to summit the world's tallest mountain, Mount Everest, to complete the Seven Summits.
This will be his second attempt at Everest and its peak of 29,029 feet above sea level.
In 2015, he was at Everest Base Camp when an earthquake and avalanche hit, killing 19 people. The climbing season was shut down and nobody reached the summit that spring.
Towne says he's excited, nervous and proud as he departs for Nepal.
"I'm excited because it's a huge mountain and I'm climbing with friends and an expedition company I know from two years ago," he said. "I'm excited because, unlike two years ago, this would be the seventh of the Seven Summits. That would be tremendous if we make it.
"I'm nervous because, while I always appreciate the risks, the Everest avalanche two years ago, when we helped all the dead and dying, really hits home. I fly back there with open eyes as to what can happen, even when you take all the proper precautions."
Towne also is proud to help raise money, with the help of Scheels, Casual Adventure and K&J Jewelry, for an area high school student to study abroad-something he did in both high school and in college.
The first of the Seven Summits that Towne conquered came while he was studying abroad in Kenya. He summited Kilimanjaro in 2003. He reached the peak of Anconcagua (South America) in 2011, Carstensz Pyramid (Oceania) in 2011, Denali (North America) in 2012, Elbrus (Europe) in 2012 and Vinson (Antarctica) in 2015.
Towne's targeted summit date, weather depending, is May 23rd.
It's a long process to get to that point because climbers need to acclimatize.
In the next two days, Towne will fly from Minneapolis to Chicago to Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, to Kathmandu, Nepal, to Lukla, Nepal.
Once he's in Lukla, he will begin a two-week, 40-mile trek to Everest Base Camp.
Towne, who works for an international consulting firm out of Minneapolis, is scheduled to arrive at Base Camp-elevation 18,400-on April 19.
He will make separate treks to Camp 2, Camp 3 and Camp 4 to further acclimatize before making the push to the summit.
If Towne is able to conquer Everest, he already knows how he's going to celebrate.
"I'll go back to work and pay some bills," he said.