SALEM, Ore. -- Craig Hanneman may have reached heights of glory in his college and pro-football days, however he didn't hesitate to step up to his next challenge in life ... Mt. Everest.
With the full support of his wife and family, Hanneman went to Nepal in late March, and spent the next two months on test climbs getting his body ready for the ultimate test. The final push came on May 26th.
"From camp 4 to the summit was the most difficult day of my life, Hanneman said.
Severe bouts of coughing and stomach cramps made the climb even tougher. Two hours into summit day, Hanneman passed the body of a climber who died the weekend before.
"You had to keep focus. If you dwell on it too long, you become a statistic yourself," Hanneman said.
Craig climbed for eight hours the final day to make it to the top. Hanneman and his sherpa guide reached the summit with twilight approaching. KVAL reporter Tom Adams asked what the feeling was like reaching the highest point in the world.
"It was pure relief, Tom. There was no sense of elation," said Hanneman. "I just was relieved to be there and i was ready to start back down."
With oxygen supplies running low, Hanneman can only spend 20 minutes at the top. During that time he planted what he said was the first POW-MIA flag at the top of the world.
Hanneman is believed to be the first former major league athlete of any sport to have scaled Mt. Everest. He told KVAL that the trip cost about $38,000, which is on the lower end of the Mt. Everest trip price scale.