By Tim Hague Sr.
Frozen. But not in the way you would think.
He’s a born and bred Winnipeg boy, so the fact that the mountainside was a brisk zero degrees Celsius, or thirty two degrees Fahrenheit, had little to do with the fact that he could not move. He had pushed just a tad bit too far in search of his physical limits and had found them. But, of course, that was the point.
He had climbed over fourteen thousand feet the day before and had done quite well. His goal had been met but there was still some gas left in the tank. He decided to push further on the second climb and see how far he could go.
By the time he reached thirteen thousand feet on the second climb, his Parkinson’s symptoms had been thrown into overdrive. The tremors were uncontrollable as he shook from head to toe. The dyskinesia’s, or large flailing movements, made him feel as though he were thrashing about the mountainside.
He was incredibly tired. And then he just stopped. It’s aptly called ‘freezing’. His body simply would not respond. Any effort to move was met with a rippling tremor across his frame and then nothing. After much concentration and determination a foot would finally move. And then slowly he would move on.
Why would a middle aged man of fifty five years with moderately advanced Parkinson’s disease climb a mountain?
There had been a story online about another man with Parkinson’s who had climbed mount Kilimanjaro, and it resonated in his soul as he read it. He needed to do this while he still could. Ultimately the goal took shape in Mount Evans. As a part of the Rocky Mountains in Colorado Mount Evans is a beautiful peek standing over fourteen thousand feet tall.
This climb would be the real deal. There were no paved walkways, no shelters or snack stands dotting a man made scenic route. This was about backpacks, hiking poles, good boots and bouldering. There was lots of snow to slip on and precious little oxygen for the prairie boy to breath. The exertion led to shortness of breath and a rapid heart rate resulting in frequent stops just to let his system settle down. And the occasional bought of freezing.
And the wind would blow. So hard and so cold the wind would blow.
He said, ‘At one point I looked down and couldn’t see our start point. I looked up and couldn’t see the peak. In that moment I wasn’t sure I could make it.’ However, he recalled Roger who had climbed mount Kilimanjaro.
Roger had started out as a diabetic with sleep apnea who required the use of a cane. By the time he got himself in shape and climbed his mountain those ailments were gone. Blair decided to put one foot in front of the other and move on. In doing so he reached the peak of mount Evans.
When I asked him, ‘Why did you do it?’ he laughed and said, ‘Because I’m nuts!’ After he became serious and said, ‘No matter what life throws at you, you don’t have to climb a mountain but you can persevere and meet your goals.’ He went on to share that this was the hardest physical challenge he had ever undertaken. As to whether he would do it again or not the answer was, ‘Absolutely, for as long as I can!’
Blair Sigurdson is a friend of mine and a fantastic example of what I share with audiences when I encourage them to stay in the race and Live Your Best. The ability to get out of our own heads, move past our ‘inabilities’ and discover new frontiers. Blair’s story is about discovering new success and abilities where others might sit at home on the couch.
We won’t all go climb mountains in the physical sense but without a doubt we all face peaks that need to be scaled. So, what mountain top do you long to stand atop with arms raised?
Let this story of perseverance be the encouragement for you to put one foot in front of the other, stay in the race and discover your next win in life. You can do this. There is a win waiting for you at the top of your personal mountain. Now, go get it.
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