Approximately 10 a.m. Aug. 3, 2012: I am hiking up Pike’s Peak and have reached an altitude where I can no longer get messages on my cell phone.
It turned out to be the most relaxing day of the year for me.
But my hike that day pales in comparison to the climb Wisconsin veterinarian Lance Fox made four years ago when he ascended to the top of Mount Everest in Nepal.
Recently, I had the opportunity to hear Fox describe the climb, and I sat there in awe knowing that Mt. Everest at 29,035 feet is more than twice the height of Pike’s Peak at 14,100 feet. I have made it to the top of Pike’s Peak twice — and it took everything I had. I can’t imagine what it would take to climb Everest.
Fox did have the luxury of time. He was able to take enough time off that he traveled to Nepal in March 2009 and made it to the top of Everest a few months later on May 21. Part of that time — 45 days to be exact — was spent at a base camp 17,500 feet up where he and his group were able to acclimatize their bodies to the higher altitudes. On some days, they would go up to 21,000 feet and then come back down to the camp. All the while, their bodies were making more red blood cells to grab every single oxygen molecule they could.
The group did wear oxygen masks toward the top.
Meanwhile, they faced freezing temperatures, steep ice walls (or “ice falls”) and the constant threat of avalanches.
We got to see footage of Fox and his group at the summit. Amazing to think we were seeing the top of the world. (Fox is also shown wearing a cheesehead hat at the top.)
What inspired Fox to make this incredible journey?
In 1997, he read the book “Everest” by Broughton Coburn, which instilled in him the goal of making it to the top himself.
It wouldn’t be easy for a flatlander to train for this, but Fox did his best. There’s a 960-foot hill near where he lives in New London, Wis., and Fox ran up and down that to mimic the fatigue he would encounter later on. But he still couldn’t replicate the thin air that he would find on Everest.
Bottom-line: It would take sheer determination.
“Dreams come true,” he told those attending the Professional Dairy Producers of Wisconsin business conference in mid-March.“You have to work for them. You have to believe in them.”
Last August, I didn’t make it to the top, like I had twice before. But making it to the top wasn’t my goal that time; just getting away and having some “think time” was what I really wanted to do. The times I made it to the top in the late 1990s and early 2000s were the times I had it as a specific goal.
Often, our accomplishments are based on the expectations we have set for ourselves.
Whether it’s more milk in the bulk tank or a vacation, go ahead and dream it — and then do it.