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Cody Cavill to serve internship in Nepal

UMW News Bureau

Cody Cavill

When University of Montana Western junior Cody Cavill took professor Steve Mock’s beginner rock climbing class as a freshman, little did he know the experience would eventually take him to the highest mountains on the planet.

Now, just one month away from his departure to Nepal to work with the non-profit Khumbu Climbing Center (KCC), the environmental interpretation and anthropology double major is finishing up the fall semester and preparing to embark on the trip of a lifetime.

“I never dreamed I would be able to go,” Cavill admits.

The KCC was founded to honor legendary climber and former Bozeman, Mont. resident Alex Lowe. Lowe died in 1999 while participating in an expedition attempting to be the first Americans to complete a ski descent of an 8,000-meter (26,247-foot) peak, Shishapangma, the 14th highest peak in the world. The KCC is funded and managed through the Alex Lowe Charitable Foundation and provides education and training for Nepali mountain climbing guides.

Originally from Miles City, Mont., Cavill grew up in an agricultural family and maintains a close connection to the outdoors. He came to Dillon to attend Montana Western in 2010 and soon found several outlets to pursue his passion. Mock’s climbing class left an indelible mark on the freshman. Cavill became an active member of the UMW Rock Climbing Club, organizing and attending local and regional club climbing trips.

“I never dreamed I would be able to go,” Cavill admits.

Mock was a good friend and climbing parter of Alex Lowe and has been volunteering his time and expertise with the KCC since 2008. Mock will be returning to Nepal in January 2013 to continue his work with the KCC. It will be his fourth visit as an instructor and his third as co-director. January 2013 will mark the second visit for Mock’s colleague, UMW Professor of Environmental Sciences Rob Thomas, who is working to integrate an eco-tourism and environmental interpretation component into the program.

Mock said the unique organization works in the classroom and in the field to help Nepali guides better prepare to be successful in the country’s vital tourism industry.

“The goal of the school is to provide those working and aspiring guides with the basic skills necessary to earn a good living in the mountains while maintaining a safety margin for themselves and their clients,” Mock explains. “What’s more, as they gain more skills, more education and better English speaking skills, they simply become better guides and are better able to improve the overall experience of the clients. With the KCC training, guides are also able to earn more money.”

Cavill will be based out of the small village of Phortse, Nepal near the Khumbu region, which includes Mt. Everest, the highest mountain on the planet.

Cavill said the opportunity to travel to Nepal was made all the more possible by UMW’s block scheduling program, Experience One. Montana Western is the first and only public four-year university to offer a block scheduling program in which students focus on one class at a time, three hours per day for 18 days before moving on to the next course.

“I love the block,” Cavill says. “There’s no way I could go to school anywhere else. It gives me time to work or pursue outdoor interests I wouldn’t have in another college environment. I’ll only miss one block while I’m in Nepal. There’s no way I could do that at another school. It totally frees me up for travel, and I just like being able to focus on one class at a time.”

For more information on the Khumbu Climbing Center, visit www.alexlowe.org.

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