Twenty-one yaks. Seven yak-herders. At least six Sherpa guides. That's just part of what's needed for the first-ever attempt by a group of Utahns to reach the top of Mount Everest.

Filling this unique shopping list will cost $420,000 - money the group that calls itself Utahns on Everest hopes to raise for the climb it plans for August 1992.For their money, Utahns who donate to the cause will not only get the satisfaction of helping the 14 men and one woman reach a personal goal, but also will see an improvement in the state's image, organizers say.

"This will bring it where it should be. Utah is a great place to live," said Doug Hansen, the Orem mountain climber who organized the expedition, during a press conference to announce the group's plans.

Gov. Norm Bangerter agreed. "They will display Utah as a great place to live, work and play," Bangerter said, joking that he wasn't sure whether the climb would be work or play.

Hansen assured the governor the expedition will be difficult - only about 200 climbers have ever reached the top and half that many have died trying.

"It's not fun. It is hard work when you're up there. The fun comes later," he said. The group hopes at least one member will reach the top and plant a Utah flag given to them by the governor Tuesday.

It is expected to take eight weeks for that flag to reach the summit from the time the group establishes its base camp on the north face of the mountain.

Hansen has been preparing for those two months since 1987, when he received permission from the Mountaineering Association of the People's Republic of China to approach Mount Everest through that country.

He has been dreaming of the expedition even longer, "ever since I started climbing and reading about the early ascents. I wanted to be the first to climb Mount Everest without oxygen."

That feat was accomplished in 1978, so Hansen came up with another way to make his climb unique: assembling a team of climbers from a single state and training them together.

Typically, he said, teams of climbers don't even meet each other until they reach base camp. The Utah group will travel to Alaska next week to practice their skills on Mount McKinley, the highest peak in North America.

Hansen said he hopes all Utahns will feel a part of the climb, even though only 15 of the state's residents will participate. "It's more than just us. It's a team effort, and the team includes Utah," Hansen said.


(Additional information)

Money for climb

To help Utah climbers reach the top,donations can be made to: Utahns on Everest

c/o Hansen Mountaineering

757 N. State

Orem, UT 84057