When in the middle of January of this year I received the email confirming that our team had been selected to participate in X-Pyr 2016, I first felt thrilled and proud to have been chosen for one of the biggest and most exciting adventure races in the world. My next thought was, “you better get it together because the first half of this year will be one of the most challenging of your life”.
I’m no stranger to tough challenges. I’ve been climbing mountains for the past 23 years and among many other achievements I’ve stood on the summit of Mount Everest (8,848 meters) 6 times. I began paragliding as a safer and more efficient way of getting off the mountains and I’ve participated in many competitions. I’ve sailed offshore for thousands of miles, mostly singlehanded and I’ve run in about two dozen marathons, Ironman triathlons and hundreds of road races. But this year would be especially challenging because I had to run a marathon in February, I had to train for and climb Mount Everest again during the spring and I had to get ready for X-Pyr. My teammate Alex Gonzalez was a big help with planning the logistics for X-Pyr while I concentrated on my climbing expedition.
I flew to Nepal on March 28 and went flying in Pokhara. It’s one of my favorite sites. On April 7 I flew to the Himalayas and began the trek to Everest Base Camp, climbing a 6,200 mountain on the way. I arrived at Base Camp on April 19 and began the slow process of getting acclimatized to the altitude. My plan was to try to climb without supplemental oxygen but, as I was climbing in association with The Live Love Laugh Foundation trying to raise awareness about the dangers of depression and mental health disorders, I made the decision to give up my personal goal and reach the summit with the Foundation’s banner. I got to the summit on May 12 climbing with Pa Rita Sherpa on a day with perfect weather conditions. It was my 6th summit.
As I returned to Base Camp the next day my mind went from climbing mode to hike & fly mode. Everest was behind me and X-Pyr was where I would focus all my energy and time. I returned to Mexico a few weeks later and one of the first things I did was to go to Valle de Bravo and fly again. What an amazing feeling to be back in the sky after dreaming about it for two months. I knew there would be a lot of catching up to do with only one and a half months to go before the start of X-Pyr.
During the weeks leading to X-Pyr I will be flying more than I’ve ever flown before, and I will be posting updates on this blog and on social media about my training and preparations. Thank you for following me on this adventure.