FARGO — A Fargo man pursuing a major challenge in the world of mountaineering accomplished another step in that goal, on a fitting day.

Bison fan Lee Hoedl reached the peak of Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, Africa on Saturday, Jan. 11, the same day the North Dakota State University football team won another national championship.

He and a fellow climber triumphantly hoisted an NDSU flag on Uhuru peak.

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In an email to The Forum, Hoedl said he had to call home on a satellite phone to learn the outcome of the game, in which the Bison held off James Madison for a 28-20 victory in Frisco, Texas.

Reaching the peak of Kilimanjaro, at 19,453 feet, was Hoedl’s fifth summit in the Seven Summits Challenge, which involves scaling the highest mountain on each of the seven continents.

Lee Hoedl of Fargo is pursuing the Seven Summits Challenge, which involves scaling the highest peaks on all seven continents. He and other members of the climbing team approach the summit on Mt. Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, Africa on Saturday, Jan. 11. Courtesy RMI Expeditions
Lee Hoedl of Fargo is pursuing the Seven Summits Challenge, which involves scaling the highest peaks on all seven continents. He and other members of the climbing team approach the summit on Mt. Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, Africa on Saturday, Jan. 11. Courtesy RMI Expeditions

Through a search of international databases, he’s determined only 450 or so people in the world have accomplished the feat.

It was a challenge to train for the climb, living in the flat Fargo-Moorhead area.

Hoedl, 56, scaled the metal bleachers of Shanley High School’s Sid Cichy Stadium for two hours a day, four days a week, starting with a 50-pound pack on his back in the late fall and later working up to 70-pound pack.

Hoedl figured he’d put in around 400 bleacher miles before leaving for the mountain in Tanzania on Jan. 4.

“If I don’t do it here, it’s not going to occur up there,” he said, after a training session in late October 2019.

There are multiple versions of the Seven Summits Challenge recognized by the climbing community, depending on determinations of borders and definition of a continent versus a continental plate, he said.

His previous summits include:

-Mount Elbrus, 18,510 feet, in Europe in 2017

-Aconcagua, 22,837 feet, in South America in 2015

-Denali, 20,310 feet, in North America in 2012

-Mount Kosciuszko, 7,310 ft in Australia, in 1999

His next pursuit will be Mt. Vinson Massif in Antarctica. That challenge is not necessarily the 16,050 feet of elevation, but the ability to get there and time involved due to few available flights, he said.

Mt. Everest in Asia, at 29,029 feet, will be the last step, which Hoedl said he will only pursue if regulations are changed to make climbing teams there safer.

Hoedl is expected to return to Fargo on Saturday, Jan. 18.

His wife, Diann Hoedl, said he is currently on safari with his team members at one of Tanzania’s National Parks.