By Clarissa Hawes, Land Line staff writer
Click here to view original article on the Land Line magazine site
A truck driver’s passion for climbing has driven him to tackle his biggest adventure yet – scaling Mount Aconcagua in Argentina – to raise money and awareness about human trafficking.
Owner-operator Matt Hopkins of Dillon, Mont., plans to scale one of the seven tallest mountains in the world to raise money for Truckers Against Trafficking.
Matt Hopkins, 27, of Dillon, Mont., is an owner-operator who has been hauling cattle for the past five years, which is about the same time when he discovered his love of climbing.
Over the next three months, Hopkins hopes to raise at least $22,837, which is the same number of vertical feet he will climb to reach the summit of Mount Aconcagua. The money he raises will go directly to Truckers Against Trafficking to further its mission to “educate, equip, empower and mobilize” the trucking industry about human trafficking. Click here to donate or find out more about Hopkins’ journey.
“I have always loved the outdoors and hiking and really got into climbing about five years ago,” he told Land Line on Tuesday, Nov. 19.
Through a climbing forum, Hopkins said he started talking to a guy who was looking for partners to climb with him on Mount Aconcagua.
“He was climbing for a humanitarian expedition to help raise money for the children of Greece and that’s when I realized I wanted to do this climb for something bigger than myself,” he said. “Human trafficking has always been something that’s bothered me since I understood and learned what it was about six or seven years ago.”
Hopkins said he was further inspired to use his passion for climbing to raise money to help fight human trafficking after hearing an advertisement about Truckers Against Trafficking on Sirius XM’s Road Dog Trucking channel while driving down the road.
He then called Laura Cyrus, an administrator at Truckers Against Trafficking, to help him achieve his goal. Cyrus, who is also a climber, works in TAT’s office in Denver.
“I have to give props to Laura for helping me out with this,” Hopkins said. “When I called, she seemed receptive to the idea and really worked with me to get this project going.”
Mount Aconcagua is the highest peak in both the Western and Southern Hemispheres and is one of the Seven Summits – one of the seven highest mountains on the seven continents.
His goal is to eventually climb Mount Vinson, the tallest peak in Antarctica.
“In order to get down toward Mount Vinson you have to be familiar with South America and the rules and regulations down there,” Hopkins said. “Hopefully, the climb up Mount Aconcagua will be a stepping stone to help me climb Mount Vinson eventually.”
Hopkins said he plans to take the whole month of February 2014 off from trucking for the climb. He said the trek to the summit of Mount Aconcagua and back down should take around 15 days, barring severe weather. Hopkins said he estimates that he will reach the summit of Mount Aconcagua around Feb. 12, 2014, and that donations will be accepted until he reaches the summit.
“It’s time to do something like this – something bigger than myself,” he said.