OMAHA, Nebraska — Dr. Jacob Weasel lives in Rapid City, South Dakota, but Omaha is very special to him.
“Throughout my training, I stayed in Omaha, my family is still there, so I still consider it my home in many ways,” Jacob said.
The Papillion La Vista graduate completed his studies at Creighton full steam ahead and stayed in Omaha to complete his medical degree from UNMC.
Now Jacob works as a trauma surgeon, as well as the father of three children. Jacob says getting to where he is now has not always been easy.
“I got married when I was 19. Our two children were born while I was at Creighton. So we have an apartment of about 500 square feet, one crib by the bed and one in the living room. So we’ve been through quite a lot, obviously having three kids in undergraduate, medical school, and then residency when I work 80 to 100 hours a week.”
Despite the busy schedule, he became interested in mountaineering.
“It was actually undergraduate. I had this friendship with one of my college professors who went to Washington State and attempted Mount Rainier that same year. He told me stories about this expedition and they didn’t end up being successful, but it really only piqued my interest.”
Jacob attempted to climb Denali but was unable to reach the summit due to weather conditions, but successfully climbed Kilimanjaro.
Having experienced numerous adventures, he says that he is now ready to climb Everest.
“Just the challenge and the opportunity to be in places where few people have been has always attracted me.”
As part of his training, he spends two hours on the Stairmaster and then works an hour each day. It will add a few more hours as it gets closer. But he says the biggest hurdle will be mental.
“Obviously low temperatures, high altitude is something you can anticipate. But the biggest challenges in mountaineering are never physical. The biggest problems are always mental.”
Another problem will be the distance from his family.
“Being away from your base and your family for a month and a half to two months is going to be a problem.”
Jacob is a Lakota Sioux and a member of the Cheyenne River Sioux. If he reaches the summit, he will be the first Native American to summit Everest.
But he says the hike is so much more than just him.
His passion is to serve others. That is why he founded a non-profit organization to fund women’s clinics in Nepal.
“OB/GYN care is really lacking, especially in rural areas in Nepal… You know, management is a big part of my outlook. Using the abilities and gifts that I had intellectually to serve others through surgery and through healthcare. Then the physical ability to use what I do in the mountains to serve a greater purpose: that is truly the heart of the expedition.”
His non-profit organization The Wopila Project is working on building a children’s playground at Lakota Homes on the north side of Rapid City.
“There are a lot of kids who are always running around the streets after school, they just don’t have a playground. So I thought, what is the best opportunity to show these children that they are being seen and that someone cares about them, and to restore traditional Lakota values in the community.”
He hopes his journey can inspire others to dream big.
“I really just hope this can inspire other young local kids to do what they want in life and know they are just as capable as everyone else.”
Jacob will start his Everest trip in April and will be gone for about a month and a half. While in Nepal, he also plans to climb Mount Lhotse.
Jacob told us that his tour group was working with SpaceX to build a miniature antenna that you could take with you. If successful, this will be the first live broadcast from the summit of Everest.