Former Sac State student makes trek to Mount Everest’s South Base Camp

Joe Dangtran plants Sac State flag to honor Hornet community


Courtesy of Joe Dangtran

Joe Dangtran and Vijay, an Everest porter, hold a Sac State flag at the Mount Everest South Base Camp. Dangtran, a former Sac State student, said he took the flag with him as a personal thank you to the professors that helped him transfer to Northeastern University.

Cory Jaynes, managing editor

Following a nine-day trek, former Sacramento State student Joe Dangtran arrived at Mount Everest’s South Base Camp in Nepal on Sunday, May 25.

Dangtran made the trek to the South Base Camp with a team of students from the University of Connecticut and Northeastern University, where Dangtran currently studies criminal justice and political science with a minor in accounting.

According to Dangtran, Northeastern had always been his dream school to attend, but he was denied acceptance his freshman year.

He credits Sac State for his acceptance to the university the following year.

“I attended Sac State for a year and excelled in all of my classes with the help of the fantastic professors that I had there,” Dangtran said. “So I was able to transfer and follow my dream of going to Northeastern University. I absolutely loved (Sac State) as a school and if I had been rejected by Northeastern a second time, I would have loved to stay.”

It was his love for Sacramento that inspired Dangtran to bring a university flag with him on the trek to Everest’s South Base Camp and share a photo of his journey on the Sac State subreddit.

Everest’s South Base Camp sits at an altitude of 17,598 feet (5,364 meters) and is a nine-day journey from Kathmandu, Nepal, according to Dangtran. According to travel site Base Camp Excursion, 35,000 tourists make the journey each year.

Upon his return to the United States, Dangtran spoke with The State Hornet about his journey.

Question: How did you get the opportunity to make the trek to Mount Everest’s South Base Camp?

Answer: So, the original trek to Everest Base Camp was a partnership with the charity Big Brothers Big Sisters of Massachusetts Bay. They take disadvantaged young children and they pair them with an older mentor to bond with them and be a role model. That’s the charity that I partnered with and raised money for so they could fund my trip to Mount Everest Base Camp. It was me and a team of seven other Northeastern and University of Connecticut students.

Q: So the trip was part of the Big Brother Big Sister program?

A: How it worked was an organization called Choose a Challenge worked with the charity. It’s an organization that pairs certain schools with charities, and those schools raise money to go on those awesome trips. So, Mount Everest wasn’t the only one. Your school could have also gone to Mount Kilimanjaro in Africa or run the Edinburgh marathon in Scotland or go to Machu Picchu down in Peru.

Q: What made you want to make the Mount Everest Trek?

A: Mount Everest has always been on my bucket list to do one day. That’s always something I’ve wanted to do as a kid, because I’ve always felt that it’s the top of the world, and I always wanted to get to that point where I could go to the top and see how small everything was down below.

Once I saw that opportunity to be able to go to Mount Everest on a flyer at Northeastern, I just hopped on that chance because I knew that was something that would accomplish a goal that I set for a really long time. Hopefully, one day I can return to summit it in the future.

Q: How did you prepare yourself for the climb?

A: I did a lot of aerobic work for the trek. One of the things that I’m hoping to do in the coming year is to run the Boston Marathon. So, I’ve been attaching a lot of my marathon training to the trek, so a lot of aerobic work and also a lot of weight training as well. Not really heavy, but keeping myself in top physical condition.

Q: Why were you inspired to take the Sac State flag to Everest Base Camp with you?

A: Sac State will always be my home. Northeastern isn’t, Sac State is. I just really wanted to do it because I know that the Sac State community is totally amazing, and I wanted to be able to represent them as a Hornet on Mount Everest as well as a Northeastern Husky. The flag, if you look close enough, is actually a personal gift to me from professor Jan Johnston at the Sac State theatre department.

She was my first-year professor. There is the first-year seminar (at Sac State) where they pair you up in specific cohorts of fellow first-year students. She was my professor, and she guided me, and eased me into college, and I have a lot to thank for that. So it was her and specific professors in her department, students and friends that I made over the year that signed that flag and sent it to me.

That’s what really inspired me to bring it to Everest’s Base Camp — to represent the community and serve as a personal thank you note to my friends as well as her. I currently have the flag in my possession and I plan to donate it back to the school or Johnston so she (can) hang it up in her office.

Q: What made you most nervous about your journey?

A: I didn’t hear about the news of the huge traffic jam that took place near the summit until I actually got to Nepal, but what did make me extremely nervous was the actual altitude. I’m actually a licensed recreation skydiver and I jump at 13,000 feet and that’s 4,000 less of what I’d be trekking to.

I heard the horror stories of really able and avid climbers who, once they get near Base Camp, their body completely succumbs to altitude sickness. That was something I was extremely nervous about because I’m not an experienced climber, though I am hoping to branch into the sport.

That was a fear that (was) realized when I actually got to Base Camp. I started to suffer the symptoms of altitude sickness just a bit, nothing too serious but enough to prey onto the fears and nervousness that I did have.

Q: Between skydiving, the climb to Everest’s South Base Camp and the Boston Marathon, would you describe yourself as adventurous?

A: I would say that the most adventurous that I ever am is that I am a skydiver. Currently, I have 30 jumps under my belt and I’m hoping to get to 200 jumps by the end of the summer.

I would say that my family does travel a lot. We’re planning to go to Spain at the end of the summer. We’ve also been to numerous other countries in Europe, such as France and Italy.

I plan to finish up my scuba diving certification by the end of the summer.

Other than that I would actually say I’m a little couch potato. I love to sit and read and watch Game of Thrones. Just do homework and sit in. I wouldn’t say I’m a super adventurous person.

Q: You mentioned you wanted to eventually summit Mount Everest, what are your plans for that?

A: My plans going forward with that is just to gain more experience in mountain climbing and rock climbing. I think Mount Everest right now is being super commercialized and has a plethora of inexperienced climbers that do go and pay an exorbitant amount of money.

I’ve heard stories of people who have never put on crampons or have never operated an ice axe pay to climb the summit and put their guides in danger. What I plan to do with that is go gain more experience, as much as I can, to make myself the most capable I can to be able to summit Mount Everest one day.

Q: Is there anything else you want people to know?

A: I know that people make their jokes and people think it might not be Stanford, but in my opinion, Sac State is, for your money and your time, one of the most wonderful schools that are out there.