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Winnipeg’s Everest conqueror lives life to the max

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The “I’ll try anything once” attitude of Winnipegger Sean Mooney, pictured here on Mount Everest, impresses even Troy Westwood, who’s tried a few activities in his time.

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The “I’ll try anything once” attitude of Winnipegger Sean Mooney, pictured here on Mount Everest, impresses even Troy Westwood, who’s tried a few activities in his time. Photo Store

Most athletes I meet I can understand.

Whether they have a remarkable natural gift or an undeniable drive, I can understand these things. Sometimes, though, you come across athletes you can’t really wrap your mind around.

They think differently and they approach things differently. By and large, most everything about them is different. That is what makes them truly special.  

Please allow me to introduce you to Sean Mooney.

Sean is a banker who grew up in Winnipeg and graduated from Miles Macdonell Collegiate. Some of his athletic experiences and accomplishments include the following: playing soccer for Cornell University; competing in several Ironman triathlon and ultramarathon competitions; participating in Arch to Arc London to Paris relay (which includes swimming across the English Channel); several boxing matches; becoming a chessboxing champion (chessboxing involves four minutes of chess and three minutes of boxing, for 11 rounds), and, um, he just climbed Mount Everest.

Sean signed up with a group called Peak Freaks with the notion of climbing Everest. They initially rejected his request because he had as much experience climbing mountains as I do — i.e., none.  

They told him he would need to, at the very least, take a five-day Intro to Climbing Course in the Rockies before they’d consider him. Well, he took it, and soon after that, he was on a plane to conquer Everest, after a pitstop in Winnipeg to train with Jeff Fisher.  Still, I figure that’s like getting your beginner’s drivers license then flying off to race in the Daytona 500.  

Oh, and how about this for an additional wrinkle.  Knowing how to tie knots is fairly important in mountain climbing. If you make a mistake with a knot, you die.  Sean, with no knowledge of how to tie knots, downloaded a PDF, studied it, and practised the skill on the flight over. He continued to gather knowledge by engaging in many conversations during the first few weeks of "yo-yoing" up and down the mountain while acclimatizing, and also as he climbed the different stages during the ascent of Everest.

As I write this, Sean is making his way back to Canada.  

I asked him what he plans to do next.

"I’ve been trying to figure that out for a week" he said.  

One thing’s for sure, though — whatever it might be, Sean will push the limits and live his life to the fullest.

Former Winnipeg Blue Bombers kicker Troy Westwood is co-host of The Big Show, every weekday morning from 6 to 10 a.m. on TSN 1290 radio. He writes about Winnipeg’s unsung sports heroes every other week in the Canstar Community News weeklies.

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