Matthew Moniz is one of Colorado’s most accomplished young alpinists, having climbed three of the seven summits by the age of 10. A Boulder native, Matt has been active in the outdoors since his early youth and is an avid skier, mountain biker and rock climber. However, it was a climb to Everest Base Camp at 17,200 feet and a summit of Kala Patar at 18,501 feet in April 2007 at the age of 9 that fired Matt’s enthusiasm for high-altitude alpine climbing.
Within months of returning from Nepal, Matt set a lifetime goal to summit the seven highest peaks on each continent (known as the “Seven Summits”). In June 2008, at the age of 10, he became the youngest person to summit Mount Elbrus, the highest point in Europe at 18,510 feet. Also in June, Matt summited Mount Kilimanjaro, the highest point in Africa at 19,341 feet. In December 2008, Matt again set a world record by becoming the youngest person to summit Cerro Aconcagua, the highest point in the Americas and outside of the Himalayas at 22,841 feet. Matt holds certificates for all three of the ascents.
Matt also believes in climbing with a purpose. In 2005, at the age of five, Matt's best friend was diagnosed with Primary Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension (PAH), a rare terminal disorder which restricts blood flow through the pulmonary arteries and the right side of the heart is put under increasing strain to pump blood through to the lungs. Symptoms include shortness of breath, chronic fatigue, dizziness, fainting, edema and chest pain. The cause of primary PAH is unknown and since there is no cure, treatment options, which can range from a constant intravenous infusion of medication to double lung/heart transplant, are aimed at reducing symptoms and improving quality of life.
When climbing Cerro Aconcagua, Matt realized that the effects of a low-oxygen, high-altitude environment almost perfectly mimic the very disease his best friend struggled with on a daily basis. Matt knew then that the best way to bring attention to this disease was to encourage people to experience it firsthand, one step at a time, by climbing mountains. In July 2009, Matt conceived of the 14 Fourteeners in 14 Days climb to raise national awareness to the disorder. The successful climb of fourteen of Colorado's famed fourteen thousand foot peaks in eight days, sponsored in part by generous donors such as Mountain Hardwear and Oracle, raised approximately $20,000 for the Iain Hess Breathe Easy Fund. A statement regarding Matt's unique contribution for PAH was entered into the Congressional Record sponsored by Congressman James Langevin (D-RI) in December 2009.
In addition to his climbing, Matt also serves as an Outdoor Nation Ambassador. Outdoor Nation is an organization dedicated to empowering youth to reclaim, redefine and rediscover the outdoors. Matt is Mountain Hardwear's first Youth Athlete - providing real-world challenges to the product designers and product testing in extreme conditions.