'I Had To Step Over Bodies On The Line': Chicago Man Talks About His Summit To Mt. Everest

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CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) -- Highland Park native and Northwestern graduate Alex Pancoe began his journey to the top of the world seven weeks ago.

"We summited May 23 and I arrived in Katmandu March 30," he recalls.

For nearly two months, he slept in tents, ate freeze dried food, and acclimated to the altitude, but he said the mental part was the toughest.

"It's a different thing when you're there. I really am putting my life on the line. I might not see family and friends again and I'll be honest, up until the last day, I said to myself, you don't have to do this. You can go home right now. I pushed through that mentally," he said.

"Getting to the top was a very emotional moment for me. But then you have to refocus toward getting down where most people have accidents," he said.

"Everest only has a few days a year when you can summit. Last year, they had 11 straight days of good weather. It was very crowded, but spread over 11 days it wasn't that bad," he said.

"The crowding isn't so much the issue. The bigger issue is climbers moving well with experienced teams. They need to tighten up the standards on who can be on that mountain," he said.

He was diagnosed with a benign brain tumor in 2005 and said he realized he needed to give back and raise money for the hospital and the doctors who helped him recover.

"I have a bit of pneumonia right now, but I'm going to rest for two weeks, see family in Florida, but I'll be ready for the final challenge," Pancoe said.

For more information or to donate, log onto www.peaksofmind.org.