Climbing My Sixth Carrying Six

I don’t know what it is exactly about the mountains that draws me into this state of excitement that relates to a child on a Christmas morning. Maybe it's the mysteriousness that is beheld within its forests, rocks, and elevations. Maybe it’s the chance of death from some unknown source. Maybe it’s the summit above the clouds that makes you feel like you are on a different planet.

 Photo by John Burkett

Photo by John Burkett

I can’t pinpoint the exact reason but I do know that I am a mountain man and it is my drug of choice. Over the last five years though I have looked at the mountains from another view. The view of those that literally can’t climb to certain elevations due to their genetic disease known as Cystic Fibrosis.

A couple of years ago I created a metaphor known as “Mt. CF”. You see though I will never understand the complications personally having Cystic Fibrosis, I can relate on certain levels through alpine climbing.

 Photo by John Burkett

Photo by John Burkett

Mount CF is a mountain that currently has never been summited and holds many lives on its slopes. Over 70,000 to be exact. This is the amount of people that suffer from Cystic Fibrosis on a daily basis. Some are stuck at a higher altitude than others but there is no doubt that each one of their own resides at one of the camps.

Sometimes they are at a deadly elevation so long that it takes their life…..Sadly I have lost too many friends on Mt. CF and I want to do something about it so that’s why I created the More Than Just Mountains Project through the More Than Just Me Foundation.

MTJMountains is where I will attempt to climb the Seven Summits around the world (Highest Point on each continent) to drive awareness and funds to those that suffer from one of the most deadly genetic disease on our planet.

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Through awareness and fundraising we are getting closer to a rescue or summit for those stuck (a cure). I truly believe in my heart that there will be a cure for Cystic Fibrosis in my lifetime. Just in the last five years I have seen the median age go from 37 to 47 adding ten years to a CFers life because of the research done by the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation and the medicines being produced by many pharma companies like Vertex Pharmaceuticals.

I head down to Antarctica on Christmas this year to summit my sixth of the Seven Summits.

Leaving my wife and six month old daughter to pursue something bigger than THE DANGERS and something bigger than myself.

Through the adventures I experience a surreal feeling of love from those that suffer beyond any mountain I can personally climb, on a daily basis. The support they give me creates a circle of hope, love, and life that won’t end because I won’t stop until there is a cure and it’s available to those in need.

You see I climb these mountains that reach as high as 29k feet but Mt. CF is a mountain that I will never have to climb and for good reason as it scares the hell out of me. I don’t understand how my friends climb it everyday but they do with no choice and many do it with a smile on their face. They climb it hoping that their parents, friends, loved ones, and people like myself are at basecamp creating a game plan to get them to the top and back down alive.

This won’t happen without everyone coming together and shining a light brighter than you have ever seen on something that is bigger than ourselves.

When I reach the summit of Vinson Massif that sits at 16,077 feet above sea level located on the most remote continent in the world, I will take a deep breath and reach into my bag to grab the ashes of my friends that have been taken too soon.

Sister, brothers, and super heroes will fly in the frigid winds of Antarctica because we weren’t quick enough with a rescue or we couldn’t guide them safely back down the mountain.

I currently carry six of my friends to the summit. That’s six too many….

I challenge you to be the change in the world. Be someone’s hero.

This doesn’t mean you have to climb the highest peaks on every continent yet be the inspiration that allows hope, love, and life to enter their world.

Be bigger than yourself.

 

I want to thank the amazing support of my friends, family and sponsors for allowing me to challenge my mind and my body for a cause bigger than myself.

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