PUSH-UPS AT THE SUMMIT
A True Story of Climbing Mt. Everest
By: Rob Marshall
The mornings on Everest can be down-right brutal. Waking up in a small tent on the side of a live glacier, your sleeping bag covered in ice crystals, the sound of the glacier popping, moving, cracking around you… it’s a heck of a way to wake up. But what can be tougher than the cold is the hunger.
I woke up hungry every day I was on that mountain. For two months, your body is burning calories at an unbelievable rate. In fact, it is slowly eating itself, as few people get enough carbs, fat and protein to maintain body weight. After climbing mountains around the world, I knew that a good source of protein was one of the most important parts of expedition nutrition. The trick is: how do you get safe, healthy protein at 20,000ft? Trust me, yak meat that has been carried on someone’s back, unrefrigerated for five days, isn’t the source you want if you can avoid it.
So to replenish the massive amounts of muscle proteins I was breaking down, I decided to give IgY protein a try. As a believer and eater of good ol’ eggs, I was intrigued by the simplicity of IgY: pure egg powder. Plus I liked the fact that it would boost my immune system, which is critical when your body is chronically tired and the people around you are often sick. I figured it was worth a try.
Twice a day, at breakfast and at dinner, I would combine a small packet of IgY protein powder with some EmergenC vitamins and chug it down with my meal. At first other climbers were skeptical, but after a month of losing weight and beating our bodies on the mountain, people were asking to try the IgY. Why? Because I was feeling awesome and my body was recovering quickly from trips through the ice fall or up and down the Lhotse face.
After 40 exhausting days on the mountain, living at 18,000ft and above, my team and I reached the summit of Everest. Our summit day included passing five groups of slow, path blocking climbing teams. That means unclipping and free climbing around the masses to avoid being stuck. And that took the most energy and effort I’ve ever put forth. But time after time, I had the stamina and health to turn on the burners and make it happen. Then, upon reaching the top, I maintained a summit tradition I started when I first began climbing as a military cadet: I flew the Air Force flag and then proceeded to do pushups on the summit. 30 pushups in 30 seconds and my body was responding wonderfully, even at 29,000ft.
It took only 12 hours for the roundtrip from Camp 4 to the summit and back. It was a huge victory. Sadly, so many other climbers succumbed to sickness, to joint pain, to exhaustion and turned around or never even left base camp. But after 40 days of constant effort, battling coughs/colds/sickness, and demanding more from a body than several ultramarathons combined, we prevailed. Was much of that due to our preparation and teamwork? Hell yes. But I’m sure I gave my body an advantage through the IgY protein. My body recovered day after day and my immune system remained strong.
When pushing our bodies to the maximum, whether it be above the Death Zone or simply at the gym, we’ve got to nourish our muscles, organs and immune system. My take is to utilize nature’s perfect tools whenever possible, so the natural egg proteins in IgY were right for me. The results from the top of Mt. Everest prove that trusting IgY was mighty fine idea.
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