• Westish Contributor

Mountaineer Devastated After Confusing Mount Evans and Everest

By Chris Curtis

After more than three decades of telling people he summited the world’s highest mountain, Colorado native Dag Scalatore recently learned that Mount Evans and Mount Everest are not the same mountain. 

A rock-climbing enthusiast and self-described “peak grabber” who has conquered more than four of Colorado’s mountains, Scalatore received the unbelievable news late last week while attending a teleconference on the dangers of altitude sickness.

“I was having a great time, thought I maybe could share some of my expertise,” says Scalatore of the teleconference. “Told them how I climbed her solo back in 1987. No oxygen. No sherpa. Just me. And I grabbed that peak. Even had enough energy to work my shift at May-D&F that night.”

The doctor running the meeting had other plans for Scalatore.

“He just said, ‘Everest is in Nepal.’ I thought he was confused because I’ve never traveled outside of the state. But then he did this screen share of MapQuest or something and I was ー I was just crushed. It took everything out of me.”

Dr. Peter Hackett of the Institute for Altitude Medicine at Telluride, who hosted the teleconference, says he feels “bad for pulling the Band-Aid off like that but facts are facts. How do you mix up Mount Evans and mighty Mount Everest? I guess they both start with ‘ev’ but they’re absolutely different mountains.”

Our research team confirmed Dr. Hackett’s assertion: they are, though still incredibly similar, different mountains.

Mount Evans, named for former Colorado Governor John Evans ー who totally didn’t resign after definitely not creating the hostile environment that certainly didn’t lead to the Sand Creek Massacre ー stands at a lofty 14,265 feet in elevation and is a two-hour drive from the metro area. Mount Everest is a wee bit taller at 29,029 feet and is a mere 7,700 miles from Denver.

This handy chart shows how similar in height the two peaks actually are.

Fortunately, our story doesn’t end with cruel, heartless facts. A resourceful intern at Westish (looking at you Cody, great chart BTW) was able to coordinate a second meeting between Scalatore and Dr. Hackett, giving one of them a chance at closure.

Sitting on his sectional couch, surrounded by supportive friends and loving family members, Scalatore speaks first. “You really did a number on me doc. Just a week ago, I had it all.” His voice wavered somewhere between rage and despair. “And you took that from me.”

Dr. Hackett speaks with a tone of encouragement. “Mount Evans is still an achievement, it’s a fourteener… you can literally drive to the summit in a sedan. It’s really nothing like Everest. I’ve been. I mean, there’s still a risk of High Altitude Cerebral Edema, so Evans pretty hardcore too. You’re still a mountain man, Dag.”

“I’m a peak grabber, doc.” Scalatore breathed a sigh of relief. “It’s going to be tough to move on but I’ve still got the north face of Mount Eiger under my belt.”

Chris Curtis is a Colorado native that now lives in Pahoa, Hawaii (imagine Boulder with better weather and no money or college). He's a musician, artist, card-carrying geek, and award-winning writer. He still does lots of Colorado stuff like paying too much for craft beer and not going in the ocean.

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