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One UI senior is living for the thin air

BY MICHELE DANNO | FEBRUARY 18, 2009 7:50 AM

This year, UI student Josh Kingry had to take out $5,000 in student loans. But he definitely didn’t use it all for school.

The 22-year-old used half of it to fund climbing Mount Rainier with friend Ryan Fisher in what Kingry called a “life-changing” journey up the hardest mountain in the Lower 48.
Kingry, a native of Omaha, had never climbed before, though, and he had his skeptics — those who didn’t think he could ever make it to the top of the 14,411-foot mountain last September.

“We were told that we were stupid and that we didn’t have a chance,” he said. “Rainier is considered a difficult mountain for the U.S., but all I needed was to hear people telling me I couldn’t do it. My biggest motivation is when people tell me I can’t, especially my parents.”

Kingry, a fifth-year student, said his mother and father have always questioned his high-risk lifestyle, but he doesn’t let that stop him. He has even been skydiving twice, scuba dived in the Atlantic Ocean last year, and had a near-death experience when he ruptured his spleen and broke two ribs in a snowboarding accident in 2006.

None of it fazed him.

“As soon as I got out of the hospital, I went and bought a snowboard,” the interdepartmental-studies major said, and the experience taught him to live life to its fullest because death could come at any time.

Kingry’s roommate, UI senior Steve Meier, said Kingry leads an unpredictable lifestyle.

But Meier said Kingry has the motivation and dedication it takes to climb Alaska’s Mount McKinley and eventually he could climb Mount Everest — Kingry’s ultimate goal.
Fisher agreed.

“He is extremely motivated and trained really hard for the climb,” Fisher said, and the two practiced by hiking to North Liberty with 45- to 55-pound backpacks. “I have no doubt in my mind whether he will climb Mount Everest.”

But funding his passion is still a problem, even though those who know him agree Kingry has the motivation, drive, and spirit to continue climbing.

After he graduates in May, he said, he will have to save a lot of money in order to reach his next goal — scaling Mount McKinley, the highest peak in North America at more than 20,000 feet.

He said he is unsure of what career he will pursue, but his main focus is getting a job that will earn him enough money to climb Mount McKinley in 2010.

“I’m not sure yet what I want to do once I graduate,” he said. “Climbing really dictates everything that I want to do.”

And Kingry is confident that mounting Mount Rainier was only the beginning of his climbing career.
“I don’t really know where I will live after college,” he said. “I used to think I wanted to live near the mountains so I could climb more, but I have been living in Iowa City without mountains for the past five years, so I can train anywhere.”

Wherever he does end up after graduation, he said he won’t let anything stop him from reaching the top.

“If I want to do something, God’s not allowed to tell me no,” he said. “And that’s the motto I live by.”


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