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Roseville climber dies on Mt. Everest

By: Bill Poindexter/Roseville Press Tribune Sports Editor
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Rick Hitch of Roseville, a longtime girls soccer coach who in recent years set out to climb the highest mountain on each continent, died Sunday on Mt. Everest.

In climbing Mt. Everest, Hitch was attempting to reach his last of the Seven Summits. Hitch climbed Kilimanjaro in Africa (August 2008, 19,340 feet), McKinley in Alaska (June 2009, 20,320), Aconcagua in Argentina (February 2010, 22,841), Elbrus in Russia (July 2010, 18,510), Kosciuszko in Australia (October 2010, 7,310) and Vinson in Antarctica (December 2010, 16,050).

In an interview with the Press Tribune in March, Rick Hitch described himself as “one of those kids in junior high that couldn’t break 7.0 (seconds) in the 50,” but he found his calling with mountain climbing.

“Putting one foot in front of the other and walking seems to be something I can do,” he said. “I’m good at grinding something out slowly, and that’s climbing – not losing your focus.”

Hitch and his wife, Loretta, departed for Mt. Everest on March 26. She returned to Roseville on April 12.

Loretta Hitch said Monday her husband, six other climbers and two guides were en route to Camp 3, at 23,621 feet, when he collapsed. Guides tried to revive him for 45 minutes, but he never regained consciousness. The official cause of death was still unknown Tuesday.

Loretta Hitch said Rick was her best friend and her hero. She described him as a “wonderful” husband and father.

“We had an acronym for each other, HLBF — Husband, Lover, Best Friend — and we did everything together,” she said. “We enjoyed all of our adventures together. He truly was my soul mate. I’m just so grateful for the three weeks I was able to share with him on this trek. It was an amazing adventure to do with him. He helped me and encouraged me along the way.”

Funeral arrangements are pending.

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Read the Press Tribune's story on Rick Hitch from March: Mt. Everest is the ultimate grind for this Roseville climber