MBA Student Brings Spirit of Mount Everest to McDonough

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This May, Oliver Ames (MBA’20) became one of the fewer than 5,000 people who have reached the summit of Mount Everest. The 70-day climb was a “seminal experience” for Ames, an opportunity both to fundraise and to take part in what he sees as a friendly culture for adventuring in Georgetown’s McDonough School of Business.

“There’s different levels of nature — there’s a wilderness, there’s a forest, and there’s a park. Getting out into that true wild really opens up creativity in you, introduces you to people you would never otherwise interact with, and gets you comfortable doing things in a way that is so concentrated,” Ames said.

Summiting Mount Everest is a piece of his larger goal of completing the “seven summits,” the highest mountains on each continent. Ames has a background in climbing, having gone on trips with his father to the Presidential Range in New Hampshire as a child, but he had forgotten about climbing as an adult until he and a friend climbed the Matterhorn. He said that climbing the Matterhorn, followed by climbing Mount Kilimanjaro, spurred his interest in climbing the seven summits.

He was accepted onto a British team in fall 2017 and trained extensively for the trip. The climb was challenging: Two of the six people on Ames’ team were not able to complete it, and Ames himself lost 30 pounds over the course of the climb. His experiences in Nepal were a highlight of the trip.

“I’ve been to a bunch of places climbing and Nepal is extremely, extremely special,” he said.

The climb was an opportunity to raise money for the Bishop Walker School in Washington, D.C., where Ames volunteers. In honor of the school’s 10th anniversary this year, he intended to raise $10,000. Although he had only raised $8,000 when he left for Nepal, the final $2,000 came in while he was travelling, which he said was an important source of motivation. Fundraising for Alzheimer’s disease research also has been a focus for Ames during his previous climbs, and some of the money he raised for this trip went to that cause as well.

Ames hopes to bring his experiences combining service to others with adventures like climbing Everest to McDonough as president of the MBA Adventure Club, a position he recently took over. He said that he hopes to lead the club on a climb of Mount Kilimanjaro in January 2020 as a service trip.

“I’m going to try and take these experiences I’ve had, which are great team-building experiences, a great way to see the world, and a great way to challenge yourself outside of a classroom or a workplace, and share that with my classmates,” Ames said.

Ames was partly inspired to enroll at McDonough by the coverage he read of another MBA student, Nick Stukel (MED/MBA’18), who ran a marathon on each of the seven continents. The attention that accomplishment received highlighted for Ames a combination of service and personal achievement that is unique, in his eyes, to McDonough.

“An adventurous spirit permeates this school, and service permeates this school,” he said.