About two months ago, Atlanta Hawks owner and serial entrepreneur, Jesse Itzler came on The Investor’s Podcast to talk about his experience building Marquis Jet. During the interview, Jesse told Preston and Stig about an exciting new endurance challenge he created called 29029. The premise of the event is participants will climb Stratton Mountain (in Vermont) 17 times so they can simulate the vertical climb of Sea Level to the top of Mount Everest (29,029 feet). Not backing down from a challenge, Preston decided to accept Jesse’s offer and compete in the challenge. Today’s episode is a recap of Jesse’s 29029 event. During the event, Preston and Jesse met the 2X world record holder for the Explorer’s Grand Slam – Colin O’Brady. O’Brady climbed the 7 tallest summits on each of the contents and also made an expedition to the North and South Pole faster than any human alive.
In this episode, you’ll learn
- Why grit isn’t something you can learn about in a book?
- The power of setting really big goals
- Why achieving 90% of a big goal is better than achieving 100% of a small one
- How and where a person might draw their strength from
- The power of one’s mind to overcome mental and physical challenges
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Podcast Transcript and Summary
Preston Pysh: [00:00:00] About two and a half months ago we had Jessie Itzler on our show. Jessie is an owner of the Atlanta Hawks basketball team and he was the founder of Marquis jet which was sold the Warren Buffett’s Net Jets. He’s written the best selling book Living with a seal and he’s even run one hundred miles within 24 hours. During our last interview with Jesse he kind of gave me an opportunity of a lifetime when he invited me to his next big endurance challenge. That was like nothing I’d ever heard of. Jesse rented Stratton Mountain in Vermont and decided to climb it enough times so he could travel from sea level up to 29,029 feet. This is the same elevation as Mt. Everest. So I was afforded this awesome opportunity to participate in this grueling event. And at the event I got the chance to meet some of the most fascinating people in business. For example Jesse’s wife Sara Blakely who’s the billionaire founder of Spanx. She also participated in the event along with 150 other people that were equally hard-core and equally fascinating in their own right. So this interview is broken down into two parts the first part is an interview with Jesse where we both talk about what the event was like and what we both learned from going through this grueling weekend. The second part of the interview I talked to one of the most astounding people I’ve ever had the pleasure of interviewing. His story is so captivating and moving that you’ll probably have a hard time believing that this is even real. The name of the second guest is Colin Brady. And I’m really excited for you guys to hear that interview. So if you’re ready let’s dive into this. All right. So excited to have Jesse Itzler back here with us and Jesse. All I can say is wow this was crazy. This was just unbelievable the whole experience was painful. It was exciting. It was fun. It was all. Every word you could possibly punch into this thing. That’s what this was. And I just got to thank you upfront. I’ve got to thank you for allowing me to participate in this. This was incredible.
Jesse Itzler: [00:02:40] Well I’m so glad you came. It was great. You know bumping into the mountain. I think it was like some sex and I needed a jolt. And there you were. Came about. I feel like they just did it for us. Like no way. Glad to see you I didn’t see you for the first couple hours.
Preston: [00:02:57] Yeah I got off to a late start so I got up there as I arrived right before 2:00 p.m. on Friday. And so like I was you were making fun of all these people coming up with like the long pants and the long shirt. They were like all bundled up and you’re like where are you all going like are you guys climbing a mountain. Are you like. And I was one of those people I was all bundled up and so I’m like hiding behind everybody is you’re like poking everyone as they’re coming up there for your announcement.
Jesse: [00:03:24] Well it was it was you stood out because you were dressed like you were going to Alaska. I know.
Preston: [00:03:30] So like that was like the first like inclination that I needed to get my head to the right place because I was not in the right place when I showed up. So yeah everyone got a start they started up the mountain. I ran back to my tent and started shedding clothes and like just getting mentally prepared for this. I eventually caught up with you a few summits later. But yeah I mean it was something else.
Jesse: [00:03:52] It was great. It was great. Well the format of the event is if you’re not together initially the mountain is so big that there were some people I didn’t see until Sunday just because the way that you know if I was a half mile ahead of them or a half mile behind there was no way that we would ever connect if we both kept going. So it was good. It was good to bump into it and get it checked.
Preston: [00:04:16] It was awesome. I kind of liked that because almost every two or three summits you’re kind of with a different crowd of people and you’re networking you’re learning. I mean everyone there was I mean these people were hard core First of all and then almost everybody I met was a CEO this year. And so it was such an opportunity. And I that’s why I’m just so appreciative because everyone that I had a chance to talk to was just so giving with their time and like sharing just amazing information. And it was just really fun. I mean we talked about so many books with these people. That’s the thing that I thought was really cool as well.
Jesse: [00:04:52] Well you know I don’t look at the weekend as a race. It wasn’t a race. There was no there were no awards given. It was personal. It was a personal challenge. And you know we set this up to be an investment in yourself. You know I think the goal of this weekend was for everybody that came to get something at it that way bigger than just completing a challenge. It was just you know, a three-day investment in yourself, to learn something about yourself. And I think we accomplished that.
Preston: [00:05:33] I guess let’s start off with this Jesse. So where do you get an idea for something like this, like how does this come about, because whenever I was on the mountain, I was talking to a gentleman Mike Sheehan, which I’m sure you know who Mike is. And Mike told me, he goes, “Jesse’s had the idea for this for like a decade.” And I was like “No way.” Is that is that true? First of all, and then talk to us about how you think through an idea like this. This is really cool stuff.
Jesse: [00:06:00] Well I think, I think my superpower is I’m an idea guy. You know everybody has something that they’re that they like to put a flag in the ground and say this is what I’m good at. And most of my ideas are bad but I have a lot of ideas. After I finished marathons or 10Ks, 5Ks, you know it’s always like what’s next. People always ask me, do you want to climb Everest? Why don’t you go climb Everest, you ran 100 miles? I really can’t go to Everest right now you know. It’s expensive it’s a long trip I got four kids. There’s altitude, there’s training. It’s crazy dangerous. So I just said to myself well why don’t I bring part of the element of risk to here. You know the largest summit, the highest mountain in the world to the United States. And that’s sort of how it came into my head. And then and that’s sort of what happened then it just built it from that initial idea.
Preston: [00:06:58] So people that I was telling this to, like I was talking to my parents about this and they’re just like oh yeah twenty nine thousand feet that’s really high. And like in my own mind it’s really high. But then I was trying to put it in terms that people can understand. And so this is like climbing the Empire State Building something like 35 times. Like imagine yourself going into the stairwell of the Empire State Building and then running that stairwell 35 times and doing it in a weekend.
Jesse: [00:07:27] The magnitude of it didn’t really hit me until I was flying home and we see the light illuminated telling us that we were at 10000 feet. And I looked down and I was like I couldn’t believe how far up in the air we were. And my. This is only ten thousand feet. And we kept climbing and on the visual on the airplane you can see how high you were. And when we got to 29000 feet I looked down and I said no way it’s no possible way that this is what we just did. Yeah.
Preston: [00:08:01] Now you know you put it into that context. I never thought of it from that vantage point. It is flippin high.
Jesse: [00:08:07] It’s high and it’s steep and slippery and it’s windy and it’s sunny and it’s cold and everything.
Preston: [00:08:15] We’ll talk about your first summit up because I know it my the first time I went up the mountain. I know what I was thinking. And I’m curious with what was going through your head after you did the very first summit.
Jesse: [00:08:25] Well as the curator of the event. About three quarters of the way up I said to myself I probably should have walked up this mountain before I threw the challenge out because I was like man this is really hard. I looked down at my watch and I’m like I’ve been out here for 45 minutes like this is going to be 17 times. And basically almost you know an hour plus the commute down like this is going to be a 22 hour event.
Preston: [00:08:54] Yeah.
Jesse: [00:08:55] Wiggle your thumb for 22 hours. Your thumb will fall off.
Preston: [00:08:59] Well still it’s a long time and that’s where I kind of made my error because you know the mileage was being broadcast at 1.1 miles per summit. So I was wearing my apple watch and you know it’s keeping track of my steps and keeping track of the mileage and doing its calculation and whatever. And so like you know and I just got done run in a 20 mile or a month before and you know I was thinking how long am I going to be on my feet. You know that’s where you can really kind of gauge your pain is like how one of my on my feet. And so when I was like oh it’s just 1.1 miles up. You know I can I can knock that out probably 30 minutes 25 minutes or something. So this shouldn’t be too bad. Like I can do this. And like you said it was way longer than what I had expected the time to be. And so then I looked at my watch after the first time up and it was saying something like 2.1 2.2 miles which was double what I was thinking it was going to be. And most of that’s because of the a little bit of a switchback you’re not walking in a straight line like you’re kind of like zigzagging as you’re going up just trying to get in some of the parts on this mound were super steep like I saw a guy going up on all fours. At one point Me.
Jesse: [00:10:14] Yeah my wife said to me you know I think you might have undersold the difficulty. And you know she said maybe for the next one you might want to think about doing it on a mountain where it’s not as hard. I said absolutely not. No absolutely not. You know I want to listen you can go run a 5 K or married and. A marathon maybe. And that’s an event it’s an event. It’s like a weekend thing and it’s great. But I wanted something that had a permanent imprint on everybody that did it. And the only way to get there the only way to really get the benefit is for it to be a struggle. And if it’s not a struggle or a point where you don’t want to. What we want to quit what you want to just go like this is ridiculous. Are you not mad at me. Then I fail. And the end. No seriously then the thing isn’t worth it because it had the fee that you pay that everybody pay has to go beyond just the weekend. It has to be either a memory a series of lessons that are applicable forward. And that doesn’t happen unless it’s hard. So I said to my wife listen no way no way this is the exact challenge doable if you were willing to go through the pain and willing to do the math and willing to plan and willing to sacrifice and get in early to get extra assignments stay out late if you’re going slow and finish it. And if you don’t then there’s a lesson learned.
Preston: [00:11:34] And if you do you know you give me like it you know I love this point because there was a quote and I think you were the one that came up with this quote. You said you can’t learn about grit from a book. You have to get out there and do it.
Jesse [00:11:49] I speak a lot. So I get to hear a lot of speakers before I go on or after I go on and you know there’s a lot of that a lot of people and inspiration and motivation out there books speakers movies. And you leave fired up for a five minute and then you go back and your kids are crying or the Bills have to be paid or this and that and that motivation goes away. And the only way in my opinion you can get lessons that you can apply. But you have to put it into real life situations so you know you have to go out and actually do something that’s challenging and it doesn’t have to be physical. You know it could be staying and returning emails when you when everyone else is at the bar and you want to be at the bar and you’re sacrificing and you’re you’re challenged because you know you’re conflicted between comfort and goal. And to me the only way that you can really really hit a nerve and have a permanent more is by going and trying to do something.
Preston: [00:12:50] I just recently read Nassim to Lebas book antifragile and the basic premise and we decided not to do the book on the show but the basic premise of the book is a person who antifragile they actually get stronger and more robust whenever they are disrupted or whenever they are putting in an environment that that rattles them. They actually get stronger through that. And whenever I think about this event it’s it’s hardening a person it’s showing you what grit is truly about. And whenever you come out of this event a person then approaches the next hardship in their life with this mindset like hey so what I did this thing over here which was like really flippin hard. And so this I can get through this right here. And you can’t. Like you said you can’t read about that in a book. You have to experience it you have to do the hard things so you get hardened right.
Jesse: [00:13:43] I mean think about a boxer if you and I read or watched a video on how to box and read every book about boxing and watched every fight ever for 10 years and then we got in ring like until we get punched or a deal with the speed or you know the adrenaline and the fear and everything that can substitute Boxer for entrepeneur anything until you’re in that situation. All of that study listening learning or watching you know it’s not really going to mean anything. So that’s sort of what I was getting at. Yeah.
Preston: [00:14:16] So let’s talk about what was the thing that you were most surprised with during the event like. Was there something that stuck out. What was the one thing that you’d you walk away and say I was really surprised by this thing.
Jesse: [00:14:30] I was really surprised at how many people kept going and regardless of body shape body type age experience there were some people that stood out in my mind that completely shocked me. And they just kept going and I kept saying to myself This is just a weekend event. There’s not even a word at the end of the I’m not giving out any trophies. Why are these people on the mountain at 3am in this wind storm. You know and the answer is they wanted to finish their goal no matter what. And you know those people I want to hire tomorrow. Yeah. Paramo never seen anything like it. Brett Brad is a fellow that did two times double Everest he double Everest. He did the thousand feet of climbing and it was time restricted so he could go around the clock. So he had to put in so many hours and he had to go at such a fast pace. When I was done with 17 men I was done. Yeah it’s done time I’m still done.
Preston: [00:15:43] All that I want to put this in context for people with Brad. So Brad’s the guy that did it twice. He started at 2 p.m. on Friday with all of us. He went the entire night. He completed all 17 by the morning. So like me after I’ve done 17 it call at 5:30 6:00 o’clock in the morning I’m toast. I mean you’re going to bed at that point right. But no not bread. Bread stayed on the mountain. He kept climbing it past 17. He went cleared of 5 p.m. the next day. So now he’s over 24 hours and all he’s doing is climbing a mountain for over 24 hours to 5 p.m. the next day. And then he finally stopped because that was the time constraint the mountain shut down at 5:00 p.m. on Saturday. You had it open the whole night from Friday and Saturday then you shut it down at 5:00 p.m. on Saturday and that’s when Brad finally slept.
Jesse: [00:16:33] Unless you were even there it’s impossible to put it in context of how challenging I found this to be very very challenging and the challenge is it’s the physical but it’s also the time just to be present and focus on a goal for 20 something hours it’s really really difficult. You know listen we live in a world where our minds constantly wonder abt we’re floating around. We’re multitasking we’re getting distracted. How many times in your life have you actually spent an entire weekend. Here’s what he did on one thing. And like before the race. I don’t know. I don’t know if you are there precedents for this but I said a couple of words to everybody and safety briefings but also I was encouraged. I was encouraging everybody just on on some thoughts on how to finish and one of the things that I said is for this weekend this is your job. Everything else in your life stops right now and resumes again on Monday. But right now this is your job to get up and down the darn mountain until you’re done. And when you think you have no more keep chipping away just chip away chip away chip away like any big task right. I mean you start a business. You have a zillion things to do list. Chip away. Knock one down. Go to the next one. Chip away chip away. And that’s exactly what Brad did. He put everything aside for the weekend and I don’t think he like he would pass me like. Good luck and keep going. There just like you. We talk about the economy we talk about like business proposals. You know we were talking about you were talking about your soul bill. He was just like got to go. He was on a mission and that those are the kind of things that stood out to me. The most during the race and there were you know probably a dozen plus examples of people with that same determination.
Preston: [00:18:24] I mean he looked like a tornado going past me. I was I was going up. I mean he just went past me like I was standing still. I’m like Who the hell is this guy. This is crazy and consistent.
Jesse: [00:18:37] And look he’s a guy that has very little endurance experience. I mean he’s got a long bike ride but it’s not like he’s a professional ultramarathon or or anything he’s just a guy that said I am not putting any limitations on this weekend. I’m leaving it all out there.
Preston: [00:18:53] He was doing it for himself he definitely wasn’t doing it to impress anybody. He was he had set an internal goal for himself that he was going to knock out 34 from the instant he was there on the mountain. And I guess this was something I really took away from this just this is something that I learned. Really it was so obvious that this was the learning lesson for me coming away from this man was the first time people went up. People had adjusted their expectations of themselves. People had people that said I’m going to knockout 17 no matter what. Whether my you know my hands are bleeding and my feet are bleeding and anything like I’m going to do 70 no matter what. There was people that came away with that mindset after the first hill. There was other people that were like I don’t even know if I can do one more of these. And then there was people that were like I’m still going to knock out 34. And that mindset was something that I guess I need to ask you what do you think drives that mindset. Howard how can a person hone that skill of just being rock hard in their mindset and being relentless and persistent and getting what they want.
Jesse: [00:20:00] I mean he channel it from somewhere and I think it’s almost like it’s almost like a I call it an underdog mentality where you know when you’re the underdog and you want to like prove everybody wrong and you want to work harder. And no matter what you’re not going to stop because maybe you’ve been bullied maybe ridicule maybe you’re I don’t know whatever you’re channeling it from me had that mentality that. And that’s what it takes. But you know a lot of times we get comfortable we lose that edge we lose that underdog. You know I remember what it was like as a kid when people didn’t think I’ll make the basketball team or they didn’t think that I could ever do this or start your own business you want to go into business school. But you talking about you’re not even an entrepreneur you’re not even that smart you know all those thoughts come into play when you have to make a decision to stop or to keep going. And I call it the underdog mentality because that’s really what I would think about when I was an underdog. I’m like you know what. I’m leaving this meeting with the deal with the sale. I’m going to finish this race despite what people think I’m going to create this event even though I’ve never done an event. You know all those kind of thoughts. And I think that’s what he said. He said like I don’t care. You know they’re not there are no obstacles. I’m an underdog. No one thinks I can do 34. And he did. I did. I didn’t either. I said not a chance in hell. I said Brad I don’t love you. I want to see you do it. You’re out of your marbles. It’s not going to happen. There’s not enough time. And quite honestly I don’t think it’s strong enough. I said that to myself and she probably sensed it. He said I have another dog. No one thinks I’m going to do it. Here we go.
Preston: [00:21:49] I mean he did 10 summits on the last day and we. And you shut down the mountain. At 2 p.m. he was sprinting.
Jesse: [00:21:56] When he got up with nothing. But when I got to the gondola after each one it was like it was like I was celebrating my wedding and I was like taking my time. I was signing autographs. You know I’m not literally I’m just saying in my own head you know and taking my time he was sprinting. He would brand the board which was our indication that you can play in a lap. You know he would he would brag that he completed the lap he would drop the iron and start flying up the mountain. And it was clockwork. I would go to my tent you know make make like two e-mails get some hot water to warm up take me 37 minutes like come back in the areas of the gondola fly back up the hill.
Preston: [00:22:37] Having read your book Living with a seal I was expecting Sarah to not participate in this because in the book Sarah kind of saw your antics with David in like what you were doing like kind of from a distance like you’re just crazy. This is nuts. And I wasn’t expecting her to be there. I was maybe expecting her to be there but not be climbing the mountain so I was very impressed. Are you wearing off once there. Is that what’s happening here like what’s happening.
Jesse: [00:23:04] Well Sarah likes a good challenge. She is she had just come back from a trip a 10 day trip to Africa with Richard Branson where they had done four days of cycling and hiking extreme cycling and hiking and if you know Richard Branson his version of extreme is like extreme to X and she had just flown back she was home for a day and I said to her as I said you know it’s great that you’re coming to support me and everybody that’s doing this and I think it’s amazing that you there just get it get comfortable the campfire and enjoy yourself. Just like what are you talking about. I’m going to do it. And I just kind of laugh chuckle to myself and I’m like OK how much are you going to do. And she’s like I’m going to try to do the whole thing. And she actually got to 12 which was one 11 11 summits was the equivalent of Kilimanjaro climbing Kilimanjaro. Yeah. And for Sarus she just clocked out. She just she just didn’t have enough time. She wasn’t moving as quickly as she did do the math right. But it wasn’t lack of effort or lack of will.
Preston: [00:24:10] You know it’s funny you said she didn’t do the math right. So Friday night I had done five summits on one at the end of Friday I was smoked. I went in had a bowl of chili I sit down at the table and who comes and sits right next to me but Sarah and so I’m sitting there and I was talking to one of my friends and I said you know the math tells me that I’ve got to have a big day tomorrow or else I’m not going to finish. And so they’re letting me see this. What’s the math. Just run that math past me. And so I started seeing the numbers of like what I thought I you know I I was shooting for 10 on Saturday. I didn’t get there but I got eight on Saturday. And if I didn’t get that far I mean I was I was hosed like I wasn’t going to make it on Sunday. And you know it’s funny because she I think was she was really she was shooting for it. And for anybody that doesn’t know what 12 summits on this mountain are like that is when you’re really kicking.
Jesse: [00:25:08] But if you did 12 because this thing was a beast without question it is funny the math is so funny. I didn’t even think about the math until like hours and hours into the race and all of a sudden I turned around with a group of five guys and I just turned to him and I guess this is basic arithmetic. It’s no longer a hike it’s arithmetic. If we don’t finish seven or eight summits today what happens is what happens if we twist our ankle. What happens is the gondola stops running because of the wind and it takes longer than you. You can not play from behind here. You have to play from a head and you’ve got to get some assignments under your belt and we’re like you’re right. And like so we got to the challenge. And what’s amazing about this is I’m like let’s do three more. Like I will do three more and the like well like 30 is going to take five hours to do it. And did you like you do the math and you’re like well it’s 11:00 at night. If we do three more you know we’re down to 4 am. So then you adjust it you like. All right well let’s do like two. And then you’re like well that’s too much left for the next day. So it became a math problem.
Preston: [00:26:18] It was a math problem. And you know I was fully expecting to be done on Saturday. I want to enjoy the band on Saturday night and so I was like I was really trying to get there. And at the end of Friday night I realized that was not happening. It was just not going to happen. Jesse let’s let’s transition to the showcase interview here. I want you to kind of introduce a little bit. Don’t give away too much but talk to people a little bit about Kohno Brady who I interview here in the next segment because I was just honored to be on the mountain with him after hearing what this guy has done it is absolutely astounding.
Jesse: [00:27:00] I mean if you use all the adjectives humble unassuming gracious and everything. I didn’t really I didn’t know Collin I knew a little bit about his story but I I met him on the mountain too and I met him at around 11pm pitch dark. I was going so slowly and he I feel his head lamp you know being on the back of my neck and I turned around and he introduces himself and I’m like like I looked on the board you like in first place or something you know you’re a good first top three guy. What are you doing here. Like talking to me and he slow down. And he joined us for the rest of the next basically 30 minutes slows followed his pace down and shared his story. And when he shared his story I was like This is absolutely unbelievable inspiring. I mean motivating sad everything. And it was just an honor. I mean I I can’t think of a lot of people that I even really rather be on the mountain than him. And I don’t even know. And afterwards I went and I watched one of his speeches online and it was just made me cry literally and he’s so I’m glad you have him on the show. You know we hear about the headliners the guys that have a million people following them and the guys that you know are allowed on social media and you know try to tell the world how to live their life in this kind of thing and that’s great to an extent.
Jesse: [00:28:41] And then you have guys like calling all world record world. Seven billion people in the world number one record holders that have lived through incredible tragedy and just unbelievable experience. They don’t even know that. And then they come into your world and you’re like wow there’s just so many interesting people that I don’t even know about you know. And it just it makes you realize how many stories and how many people are out there that have done incredible things. And then it makes you think to yourself you know why can’t I you know I can’t I do something incredible in my life and it doesn’t have to be something not avarice. You find your own version of incredible and that’s that was my takeaway from college. You know we entered this field late in life he wasn’t trained in birth to do what he did. And I don’t want to ruin his story. You figured out late late and became the best in the world. And it just gives everybody hope as you go to your own journey of life. Well again it’s not too late. It’s not too late to be the best in the world at something. And I think your audience will really enjoy it. I know they will yeah.
Preston: [00:29:59] Thanks Jesse and thanks for the opportunity to to meet people like Collin and to just go through this experience where I can really learn a lot about myself. I really hope that some of the stories we are sharing with the audience they can be motivated maybe to go out and do something similar or whatever that Everest is in their life that they’re trying to overcome to think about maybe some of the comments of what we learned and what we took away from trying to tackle this. And they can apply to their own life because there was so much learning happening over the weekend that I’m just so thankful that you were able to give me the opportunity to do it. So I really appreciate it. Jessie thank you.
Preston: [00:30:38] All right. So man I’m excited to share this interview with you because Colin O’Brady is here with me right now. And Colin I got to tell you a quick story before we start our discussion here because you might not realize this but climbing this mountain for me was was very very difficult.
Colin: [00:30:57] This was, this was not easy I think for everyone.
Preston: [00:31:01] I mean this thing was such a grind and you know I’ve done a lot of things in the military and have done a lot of sucky things in my life. But if I had to say something that was just pure suck like this thing is way up there I it might even be the highest for me. For you it’s obviously not. But then we’ll get into that. So I want to tell this story about the first time I met Colin Brady. So we get there on Friday. The event starts on Friday and it starts at 2:00 p.m. in the afternoon. And Jesse’s making the announcements you know I’m still trying to shed all my clothes off and it’s like boom everyone’s running up the hill. And so they’re going up the hill Well later that night. You know it’s getting dark. I’m a moron I didn’t set my head lamp. I had it on like the lowest setting I didn’t even bump it up you know to the highest setting like an idiot. I get up to the top of the mound. I want to say it’s probably 9:30 10:00 at night something like that and it’s starting to get a little windy. It’s getting cold and cold for me. Cold for you is two different definitions and you all are going to hear why his definition of cold is so much different than mine. When we get up to the top and we were riding down so we were taking the car down. I get into the car and it’s dark. You can’t really see anything. And I asked the people you know we get in the car we’re just kind of having some side chat about how how much this mountain sucks and how much of a steeper hill it was than I kind of anticipated before I got there.
Preston: [00:32:36] Well I ask this question in the car I said hey so how many are you guys trying to complete tonight. Because I’m pretty much on my last run like I’m getting ready to go to bed. I did five and I was smoke. That was I was exhausted and I had Saturday and Sunday to Sunday morning to still knock it up and everyone is kind of like oh you know I want to do this I’m going to do that and then there’s one person sit and kind of up in the front of the car and he goes I’m going to do 17 that night. And I just I literally just started to laugh and I was like yeah right. You know like like that’s even possible you know. And he was and this person was dead serious. He was like he said it without even hesitation not like I think I’m going to do 17. It was going to knock out 17 and I and because that’s how many times we had to do it to do the total amount to every twenty nine thousand twenty nine feet. And I just thought to myself on the on the car write down there’s no way that guy serious but I don’t want to be the dummy in the car that ask him Are you serious. And so that was you that was my friend. And so I before we go into the rest of the event I want to I want you to take us back. OK. Take us back how many years ago was this 10 years ago that you had your accident.
Colin: [00:33:54] Yes so. Yeah. So long before you and I ended up in a car in the middle of the night on Stratton Vermont trying to climb it all through the night which I did. I did stay up through the night and finished knock finished out the 17th one around 5:45 AM or something like that. But that was a long night. Say the least I can think calling I came out of 5:30.
Preston: [00:34:16] Ok. Cause I was like I’m going to get a good jump start in the morning. I came out at 5:30 and I was like let’s see if this guy did 17 I go over to the board and you had the brand you had the brand like this mountain into 17th slots. And sure enough I go over and I look at this flippin board And right next to call. Brady there is 17 marks on this flippen board. And I looked at I just like looked up at the sky like Who the hell is this guy. Because I didn’t know who you were before this. So go ahead. I’m sorry to interrupt you.
Colin: [00:34:49] Go no go so yes so long before all of this I and crazy things that I’ve done the last 10 years taken it back to the sort of origin story for me was I had just graduated from college and thought I was going to be a finance guy so any econ econ degree and kind of grabbed a surfboard and a backpack and thought I want to see a little bit of the world I’d been instead of I was actually a house painter in the summers all growing up so as sincerely socking away a couple of thousand dollars each summer with this idea when I graduate from college I want to take a trip around the world. Nothing. I mean I didn’t have money to do anything fancy but just you know peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and living in hostels and hitchhiking around and just kind of you know spread my wings a little bit. And Mosen trip up into when I found myself on a beach in rural Thailand. And for those of you who have been to Thailand you might know this but fire dancing and things like that are somewhat common. And of course because I was you know 22 years old and seemingly invincible at the time I thought that jumping a flaming jump rope sounded like a great idea.
Colin: [00:35:46] So I participated in that activity which changed my life honestly and instead the rope wrapped around my legs slash excess kerosene and my body with me on fire I completed my neck and I was able to jump into the ocean to extinguish the flames which certainly saved my life. Without a doubt. But not before about 25 percent of my body was severely burned. Predominantly my legs and feet. And I was in the middle of the tiny little island in the Gulf of Thailand so the ambulance was a moped ride down a dirt path. The hospital was a one room shack and they couldn’t really move me until they finally moved me in a back of a pickup truck in a little boat to what they called the better hospital and the better hospital I underwent eight surgeries eight days in a row where I’d come out from the hospital room or the surgery room and there’d be a cat running around my bed and across my chest in the ICU.
Preston: [00:36:37] So it kind of paints a picture of the worst place one would want and certainly with this kind of injury where infection can honestly kill you like I’m here in this story and like if this happened to me you know and it’s not like you didn’t have a lot to look forward to. I mean you went to an incredible college you had so much going for you. And then two and I’ve been to Thailand and I’ve seen exactly what you describing. You see so many people go up there everyone’s having a good time. No one has what you describe happen you know. And it’s just like everything is shattered at this point. I couldn’t imagine what was going through your head. You just devastation right.
Colin: [00:37:21] Complete devastation and like you said I think this no matter what phase of life you’re. And just having this type of thing happen to you is horrible. But of course I’m 22 years old. I’m thinking I’m embarking on the next chapter of adulthood in my life. I’d been a lifelong athlete as a swimmer in college which is it was you know what kind of got me to be able to go to a university like that. After a lot of hard work as a kid. And you know here I am sir. But I think my whole life in front of me and all of a sudden boom this accident happens and to make matters worse. The doctors are coming in every day and they’re saying like hey kid you’re pretty much not going to walk again normally after this. How about your legs are burned with the ligament damage the scar tissue over the ankles and knees like you know you’ll be lucky to kind of be hobbling around. And so just being told that was just a definite devastating diagnosis to say the least. And the physical pain mixed with that emotional trauma mixed with being a million miles from home was just overtaking me and honestly I can just remember sitting in that hospital bed just being like I want to give up like my life is over and you know I don’t you know just the darkest phase that I can ever remember in my life.
Colin: [00:38:23] And then you know enter my mother who really is part of a hero of this story for sure. She flew over to Thailand and sat by my bedside and I certainly know now that she was just as afraid as I was being a parent and seeing her kid in this way. But she’s always been someone that’s instilled this just values of dreaming big setting goals looking for the future you know working towards things and that you know I’ve a lot of things I’ve achieved my life have been kind of because of her. Eat those. And she was unrelenting in that in this hospital and the doctors saying you never walk in again. She came in smiling being like calm let’s set a goal let’s look towards the future. What do you want to do when you get out of here. I live like an hour like Mom you’re not trying to cheer me up. Like let’s not let’s call this what this is like. This is devastating. And she really just kept in on me and kind of forced me to pick something some anchor point in the future which actually we’ve been back to that point 9:0 29.
Colin: [00:39:13] The event itself is amazing but I think what we found at the people on the mountain is having that goal having that linear pursuit There’s just something powerful about that whether that’s business sports you know or it doesn’t matter in this case for me it was sport. So I said hey I want to one day complete a triathlon. So I’ve been a swimmer in college as I mentioned but I never biked to run competitively and certainly looking down at my legs it seemed pretty unrealistic to do any of those activities ever again. And I said you know an able bodied person will be able to swim and bike and run and finish a triathlon. So for the next 18 months that was my goal literally you know three months an entire hospital from back to Portland Oregon where I grew up still hadn’t taken a single step carried on and off the plane placed in a wheelchair when I got home and really learned how to walk one step at a time again and to my mother I mentioned this a little bit in the T-Dog I recently gave but it’s important moment in my life. My mom said great great kid you’ve got this big trough on goal today you need to figure out how to take one step and she actually took a chair from our kitchen table placed at one step and of my wheelchair and said figure out today how to get out of your wheelchair and take one step into that chair.
Colin: [00:40:21] And although it might sound you know tiny or insignificant but having the courage to take that first step turned into the next day that chair was five steps away the next day it was 10. And as trite as it might sound literally step by step I got a little bit stronger up until the sort of punchline of this chapter of my life is I arrived 18 months later to compete in the Chicago triathlon because I had taken a job on commodities trading in Chicago trying to get my life back on track. And so I trained with Chicago Tropp on as best I could learning how to walk again and I show up to compete. I finished the race which was this was 18 months after my accident. Certainly a joyous moment for me and there was one last surprise in store which is I didn’t just finish the race but actually won the entire Chicago triathlon beating about four or five thousand other participants on the day and my first ever race was a very surreal moment to say the least.
Preston: [00:41:12] This is absolutely nuts to go from 18 months you’re being carried off the plane. Three months after the accident you’re in a wheelchair and you turn around in what would be 15 months from just taking one step a day to literally winning a triathlon in the city of Chicago. That is nuts. Absolutely insane. Yeah.
Colin: [00:41:43] It’s absolutely wild and it was certainly you know in a lot of ways it changed my life I became a professional triathlete right after that I quit my job and got some support of this and the guys in the financial industry there particularly a guy by the name of Brian Gelber who was my first sponsor moved to Austria became pre-training and as a professional athlete which was kind of always a lifelong dream of mine. But you know it was crazy but really what it made me realize was and is to become a larger theme as I’m sure we’ll get into with other things I’ve done in my life was this moment of facing this extreme obstacle and realizing that in this moment it would have been so easy for me to give up like I wanted to give up. I wanted to say my life is over. There’s nothing I do that talks are right I’ll never walk again. I’ll be hobbling around the rest of my life. And you know I’m so grateful for my mother and what she was able to instill in me in that moment and realizing moving forward is like look I don’t think of myself as some like superhuman genetic freak or something like that like I’m a regular guy you met me like I’m like how normal. They held like a regular person and I think that really it’s about mindset. I think that in that moment I was you know forced to choose a measurable goal and move forward. And I went into that with my whole heart and my whole soul to overcome this obstacle. And I believe as humans we have this untapped potential within sight of all of us reservoirs of it that we can unlock when we choose the positive mindset which has certainly been something that I that I absolutely preach but that was just that’s how I learned it in such in such an intense environment. I hope that not everyone has to learn it that way. But it was a valuable lesson it is carried me forwards and many things in my life.
Preston: [00:43:24] You know I recently read an article Bill Gates post that is as I’m like an op ed and he was talking about the thing that Warren Buffett taught him and what he was saying that it was that taught him more than anything else was a positive mindset. He said before I had met Warren I didn’t necessarily have such a positive mindset but after I got to know him and I studied him and he says a lot of people might have the opinion that the reason he has a positive mind set is because he’s the richest person in the world. But Gates said I think people have that in reverse. I think he’s the richest person in the world because he has such a positive mindset. I actually have it you know out of order but I was so poor. Go ahead. Let’s keep going here. So you accomplished this milestone and I love how your mom was so instrumental in placing that idea you know implanting that idea into your mind like you have to have some type of milestone that you’re going to try to achieve here and then you did it and you just not only did you did it but you knocked it out of the ballpark. So what’s the next. So you achieved this then what was the next goal.
Colin: [00:44:31] Yes. For me for the next five or six years I competed as a professional triathlete which is an incredible period of my life. Like I said Do you know living out of my boyhood fantasy of being a professional athlete it was amazing a huge pivot from what I thought was going to be a career in finance through my 20s. And I ended up racing in 25 countries six different continents living all over the world having my fair share of success on the race course. Of course setbacks there’s not like I won every race I ever competed in but I had some great success as a professional athlete. And interestingly enough coming off a win in 2014 at the half ironman event I just had this kind of overcome moment of play. This has been an amazing chapter. And although I had sponsorship to continue me into the future of triathlon racing I felt like I want to do something bigger. I’m ready to set my next huge audacious goal with a combined purpose of doing something greater than myself. So I set myself the goal to become the world record holder or the fastest person to ever complete the explorers grand slam and I’ll break down what that means in a second which means to climb the tallest mountain on each of the seven continents as well as complete expeditions to both the north and south pole.
Colin: [00:45:38] And about fewer than 50 people in history have ever completed the entire Grand Slam Bosso have done so in five or 10 years you know climbing Everest or a Denali and coming back and training for the next one next year. Now I was aiming to do it the fastest So basically all nine of those expeditions without any stop without any breaks in between climbing one mountain coming down fine to the next and then the largest larger purpose was I coined a name a name called the on 7:2 which is the name of my nonprofit which is all focused around inspiring kids to get outside move their bodies set goals live active and healthy lives. And so built that into the fabric of this project and using the media to leverage sort of a positive impact in the community which is where Traficon at that time kind of thought a little bit self-serving like I was winning or losing on the race course but didn’t have as large a purpose so I was really excited to push my body in incredibly intense way but also have sort of a larger meeting baked into the entire fabric of the project.
Preston: [00:46:35] Unbelievable. So you set this goal. This is the Explorer’s Grand Slam and you’re climbing Everest you’re climbing Kilimanjaro you’re you’re climbing Denali all these mountains that are like the tallest in every single continent. You’re also go into the north and south pole and you’re trying to do it and what did you think you could do the time and what was your goal.
Colin: [00:46:58] So the record time I was trying to break was one hundred ninety seven days and you know skipping forward to the beginning I didn’t know how much faster I could do it. I thought that I had a shot at it. And of course you know there’s there’s a great entrepreneurial detour that we can take here which is I set myself this goal but I had no funding. I needed you know half a million dollars just to pull off this project that’s me not make and I was trying to make any money just like the hard costs of doing this project house that I had no financial support that’s certain and I checked that I can write a great brand I’m a kid that grew up painting houses and make pretty blue collar background in that way so as not a check that I could write. I also have never found a nonprofit. I’ve never run a media campaign. I’ve never done any of these things but it was like I have this idea I have this goal. And then there was a growth mindset of being like OK great. Well now figure it out. Yeah. And you know the first hundred and fifty people that I probably asked to support me financially are anyway like you’re crazy. Who are you. You’re not a professional mountaineer. Why do you think you can do this like.
Colin: [00:47:58] And in 2014 there was a bad avalanche on Everest that unfortunately killed 16 Sherpas. And then 2015 there was a huge earthquake in Nepal that devastated the entire country. So no one had actually even climbed Everest in 2014 or 2015 and this was 2016 when I was trying to do it and people are saying wait a second. So no one’s even climbed one of those mountains in 2014 15. You’re saying that you’re going to climb Everest as well as eight other peaks back to back here. Yeah I don’t really think we could support it. That doesn’t seem like a high probability but that’s going to work out. But there was just this you know like I said full hard dedicated passion. I’m going to figure this out some way somehow how to pull this project off so there was a year or a year and a half in the planning before I even took the first step. But I began the project in January of 2016 in Antarctica and rolled on for 139 days straight from there with many ups and downs which I can tell many stories about. But there would be a whole other days worth of podcasts but finished on Denali 139 days later having said actually two new world records for the explorers grand slam as well as the speed record for the seven summits.
Preston: [00:49:07] All right. So take us the one I’m sure everyone wants to hear about is Mt. Everest. So walk us through kind of like the challenges. You know I. From what I understand the oxygen part just makes you feel like your face is going to explode from the people that I’ve talked to that have I’ve never talked to a person other than you. It’s actually gone clear to the top. I’ve talked to some other people that have gone up to various peace camps and they said that their oxygen is just unbearable. It’s something you can’t even describe.
Colin: [00:49:36] Yeah. I mean it’s crazy. I joke around that on the on the summit day and I was using supplementary oxygen on the summit day but anything above 26000 feet is known as the death sound which is aptly named because literally the human body above that altitude even with supplementary oxygen can’t survive for very long at all you’re actually slowly dying physiologically as you’re up there. And I joke as if you’re if you’re taking one step every 15 seconds or even one step every 30 seconds a year Usain Bolt on the summit ridge of Everest like your fly flying past people you know better than a lot of people are taking one step and collecting themselves for a minute two minutes three minutes just to take another step I mean that’s how one stepped on by one literally. I mean like I know it sounds ridiculous to say and I heard that described maybe it was up there when I got there and I was like yeah people weren’t exaggerating like it’s crazy. So those are really intense and for me so I was Everest actually came eighth out of the nine expedition. So before I got to Everest I had actually already been going for over 100 days just before to begin the Everest expedition.
Colin: [00:50:37] And from the altitude perspective your body climb entices to a higher altitude of course over time. And so I had been on previous high altitude mountains. However the expedition that fell right before Everest just due to timing and weather and whatnot was the North Pole which of course is sea ice floating in the middle the ocean like as close like as the lava you’re literally walking around a frozen ocean. So I came from a month at the North Pole at sea level not climate ties at all. I was the last person to arrive to Everest base camp about a month behind schedule for the normal summit window. And rather than having the customary eight weeks the climb but I only had three including all the climate sensation. So by the time I got up on the ever summit ridge it was brutal. And my first trip up actually into the death zone at 26000 feet I was climbing with just myself and the ship by the name of the same boat. I did most of this project either climbing completely alone or I would have a friend of mine come meet me but not like guided or anything like that.
Colin: [00:51:29] And we went up there and we actually got caught in a huge storm above the death so I had to retreat into our tents and spend a full night out in a really brutal scary set of circumstances and then retreat back down the mountain. And so when I actually eventually did make it to the summit a few days later it was on my second attempt and having to fight not just the physical fatigue of having near the summit and having to retreat but the emotional trauma of like oh my god I’ve seen how bad this can go up here and if you read you know I’m sure some people have read into thin air Jon Krakauer other books about Everest the death as well as camp for the South call like this is a historic place infamous for a lot of lives have been lost there and so knowing that background and then seeing the power of Mother Nature what it actually feels like to be out there. I’m like oh this is the place I’ve read about where people die. Like it was a very intense environment to be in and just like I said each step you’re earning it all.
Preston: [00:52:24] What was the temperature and what was the wind that you experienced as far as 30 miles per hour wind like. I’m sure it was stronger.
Colin: [00:52:32] Yes. So the average temperature on the summit day I think was somewhere around minus 20 or minus 30 ambient temperature. But with the wind it was you know as much as minus 50 minus 60 degree wind chill. And when you’re moving that slow obviously it’s very hard to keep your body warm as well as when you’re not getting oxygen in there. So that really is one of the biggest challenges is keeping your body warm which is of course why you hear about a lot of people you know lose fingers and toes are getting frostbite and whatnot. So for me as successful as it would’ve been to climb Mt. Everest you know success really look like coming back in this project with you know all my fingers on my toes. I know what it’s like to be physically you know hindered. After my first accident and certainly didn’t want to have that happen again. But you know it’s intense and about several people not people who are climbing with but several people who climbed on the to the summit the same day I did were evacuated the next day because of severe frostbite injuries because it was actually quite a windy and cold evening up there for sure.
Preston: [00:53:30] So we’re going to have pictures of Collin on top of Mt. Everest in our show notes along with all the other things that you’re doing. We’re going to try to pull that from your embedded Instagram posts and stuff. We’re going to try to put that into the show notes so people can see some of these pictures. They are mind blowing these pictures. I’m curious because you brought this up the North Pole. How far did you have to track. So like what. What makes it part of the Grand Slam like that. And I’m thinking somebody just takes a helicopter to fly on their land. So how far did you have to go to make this count.
Colin: [00:54:06] So the rules and I got no I didn’t create these rules but the rules sort of governing this record state that you have to travel by your own human power at least one degree of latitude. So I crossed the last let’s call it the last degree of latitude to reach both the north and south poles which is roughly sixty nine nautical miles. And so completely self-sufficiently. So you’re walking I was using cross-country skis with skins that’s flat ground and you’re dragging about a 150 pound sled behind you which has all your food all your fuel tent stove and all that kind of stuff. Day by day for the polar regions so that all is fine.
Preston: [00:54:42] I’m dying because I keep thinking back to like me in the car with you in like complaining about oh is a little cold. It’s like 60 degrees at 50 degrees and a little windy and I’m in this car with this guy that’s done all this stuff and you don’t know it. It really is a lesson on you just don’t know what somebody else has gone through. You know you’re sitting next to a person that has done just such amazing things and in all you know is that like when you said I’m going to knock out 17 and I’m thinking Yeah right this guy’s nuts. You know but you don’t know the other person’s vantage point until you step into their body and in their shoes and you live life through what they’ve seen.
Colin: [00:55:22] But for me you know I love the essence of this 29,029 challenge that we all did together and I loved how Jesse set the tone for it you know beginning the event by saying hey this isn’t a race. This is you again. You know you know me going 17 laps in a row and you know going over the course of that weekend to me like both of those achievements are just as valid and just as incredible. And to me that’s why I love to do these things with groups of people because it’s not about oh I did it better than you right at a faster and stronger this like I’m also human like it was cold for me up there in the middle of that remote because like I’m not wearing a down suit like I’m wearing it up on Everest. But like the cold there in the South Pole was insane. I show a photo of this in my TED talk and the may have seen it where I say you know I didn’t know what minus 40 felt like until I got out the South Pole because I never been somewhere that cold and the best way I can describe it to people is I took a cup of boiling water and I threw in the air and it literally instantly turns into ice like ice. Fireworks in the air which creates some really cool photos actually. But it’s wild to feel that. But that said just because I’ve been on the ever summit ridge hiking up a mountain in Vermont that is super steep and muddy in the middle of the night and lonely at times it’s not like I’m like like that’s nothing to me. I’m just like that you know. So that is all all valid challenge and for an incredible part of the journey as well.
Preston: [00:56:45] Oh it was. It was not easy. It was it was a grind. It was a grind. But I mean relative to some of the stuff we’re talking about it’s it’s a little different. I’m just curious because I mean you just can’t talk to people that have been to the South Pole or the North Pole. So Mike My question is this when you got there are you doing this by yourself or did you have a team that was kind of around you and assessing you and making sure that you were OK.
Colin: [00:57:13] Yes. So I was more or less by myself. So it was no one that was consistently with me throughout this entire project. I did bring in a couple of people for key sort of moments. So for example on Denali built my last mountain an old friend of mine by name of Tukur Cunningham came and joined me for that stretch of stretch of the journey. He’s a great climber and we’re you know a good friend. So he was there when I actually finished the project on Everest I climbed with a Sherpa who I’d met climbing in Nepal before so he had his seventh summit of Everest and we made the summit. And so he is a great strong climbing partner. And then on the on the on the poles I went with one of the you know top polar explorers from the United States with me there. So but then a couple of them I was completely by myself completely alone and out there so it was a little bit of a mix of everything and then my fiance Jenna was really running the show behind the scenes back home. So with all the stuff we were doing with our nonprofit and various things.
Preston: [00:58:09] So I want you to tell this story because this story is just hilarious. So you just completed Everest you literally just got back down to your to your base camp at what. Twenty six thousand feet.
Colin: [00:58:23] That’s OK at some camp for at 26000 feet. It way still up there on the mat.
Preston: [00:58:28] Yeah. You’re just you’re out of it I’m sure. And you just did this you know ridiculously hard climb and when I seen the pictures of like that last little bit as you got up to Everest I mean it looks like you’re going to fall like a couple miles if you fall off this thing.
Colin: [00:58:43] Yeah. Literally it’s crazy. The last little stretch was called the corners traverse them the Hillary step was a famous feature on the mountain you’re looking down either side of you. It’s like you know a mile drop off on your side you’re walking on the balance beam of snow essentially across the Middle. So coming down the mountain you know like I said I try to summit twice then I finally get some and I’m kind of back down I’ve got one last mountain to climb to finish the world record and I get back to my tent at 26000 feet where most people stop sleep at night and then climb. Kim can you coming back down over the next couple of days. Port my satellite phone call Jenna. Tell her the news and she’s kind of been I mean she’s been a huge part of the success of this project working all the logistics and craziness in the background. You know I’m just kind of in the mountains but there’s a million moving parts. You can probably imagine a project like this. And she says so. CONAN How you feel. I’m like yeah feeling good I mean I’m exhausted I’m so happy that I’m back in my town. I’m exhausted. I did it. But yes she says well I need you to put your boots back on right now and I’m like What. What are you talking about. She’s like I need you put your boots back on because it just so happens that you can get to the summit of Denali in the next week.
Colin: [00:59:49] You can set not one but two world records and I’m like I’m on the summit. What are you talking about the side of the world and the Denali dome. It takes three weeks to climb. What are you talking about at this point I was about two months ahead of schedule for the explorers Grand Slam. But I had a shot at setting the seven summits record which is the mountains exclusive of the polls even though I had been to the polls in that same period of time. And so I’m competitive and and treat them like OK fine. Like what. Humor me was like what’s that going to be involved in that. Because well put your boots back on right now. Come all the way back down to base camp at seventeen thousand feet so another 9000 below where I am and through a huge crevasse fields and all sorts. There’s going to be a helicopter waiting and I have a range it’s going to take you to Katmandu but you don’t have enough time to stay in a hotel in Katmandu take a shower and they can take you straight to the airport and there’s an evening flight that’s going to take you to by Seattle to Anchorage. And by time you get to Anchorage you’ll have about three days to climb Denali. Best case scenario. But if you do it you’ll see that not one but two Road Records. What do you think. You know it’s like. But I know better not than the not there. So I put my boots back.
Preston: [01:00:51] I was in. It sounds like you married the right person here. So I want to put some context on this so people might not understand Denali you know draw down all these up in Alaska and I have some stats here in front of me. It is twenty thousand 322 feet 20000 feet. And you climb this in how many days.
Colin: [01:01:14] Yeah like I said it normally is climbing in about three weeks and even that it’s got only about a 30 percent success rate. Even people who spend three plus weeks on the mountain because the weather is so bad it’s a really challenging mountain to climb and unlike Everest or some of these other mountains there’s no porters or Sherpas you really have to be self-sufficient completely on the mountain. And I ended up summoning in three days. But the crazy thing was the day before we were supposed to go for the summer and we were coming from way lower down the mountain. So usually there’s a couple camps that you keep going higher but we were having to skip those camps. Me and Tucker my climbing partner and then a huge storm rolled in like a massive massive storm and were turbulent 60 70 mile per hour winds that night. And we’re still you know best case scenario 12 12 hours below the summit. So we decided to Tucker you know again this is a powerful lesson for me which I love. I love this Henry Ford quote. Some people say it was Confucius Henry Ford. I don’t know but it’s he who says he can and he who says he can’t are both usually right. And so I said to Tucker and you climb for 15 minutes and he was like bro I’m here for you man like if you want to go see it make it like let’s go it’s a let’s put all our gear and we are leaving camp and there’s a couple of other random 10 some other climbers like Guy and Zip’s tent and looks at his head and he goes oh you guys bailing up this man we heard the storms and the last like 10 days like yeah we’re thinking about bailing out of here as well.
Colin: [01:02:33] Right now we’re going for the summit and the guys like Coleman climbing today like this is ridiculous. We’re like we’re just going to see how it goes. And so literally we climb 15 minutes would check Tucker and I check in how your fingers how your toes how you feel. I’m good. Want to go another 15 minutes another 15 minutes another half hour you can see what this is going an hour turns into Turn 3 and we find ourselves on the summit of Denali and it meant that I set not one but I was just a day ahead of set in the second world record so came home a two time world record holder and no one on the entire mountain of Denali no one else climbed at all that day. So not a single person even moved from their camp and we went up and somebody and came back down in a pretty intense wind storm but I don’t know what it was. It’s always interesting when you’re up there you talk about you know managing risk you talk about that and business and whatnot but it’s always this moment of you know I was thinking to myself and kind of this mantra of this must be what it takes to do something extraordinary is to have to push through these perceived obstacles but of course in the mountains your margin of prayer with your health and you know your body life and death and a lot of ways is very slight.
Colin: [01:03:40] So you’re always kind of checking in like my. Am I doing something too risky or not and in this case I think we are pushing just right on the edge of that envelope and it turned out well for us and I’m proud of the accomplishment. But it was it didn’t come easy and there’s a video clip of me arriving to the summit of Denali the moment I actually have set these two records that I’ve been working you know multiple years for Oldsmar at this point but 139 days straight and you would think it would be like this joyous smile on my face but it just kind of look of like other like putting me in like frostbit and then not actually prospect but like snow coming off I don’t know I’m just out of it. And I had stood on the summit of Everest just six and a half days before that. So it was a crazy week in my life and in crazy conclusion to the entire explorers Grand Slam expedition.
Preston: [01:04:27] Do you think you could have done Denali that fast if you hadn’t just come off of Everest. I would think that because you were spent so much time at such a high elevation you were probably like rocket fuel going up.
Colin: [01:04:39] It’s so unlike what I said of coming from the North Pole the Everest where I was coming from sea level to Everest which was really challenging but one benefit only was that I was pre-kid comet types the altitude on Denali wasn’t imbeds crazy just that at 20000 feet doesn’t seem like that high but when you’ve just been at 29000 you’re like oh that’s like nothing that’s like oh man. But shorter than that. And fortunately for me Tucker had actually been over on Denali about a week ahead of time not thinking that we are going to have to go as fast as we pushed but thinking oh Collin’s going to come a clementine. I should probably get my body and climate ties a little bit ahead of him so he was actually in position to be able to move quick as well which is a testament to just also like I said all the things in the background with Genna and various other people supporting this with the logistics because the planning and things really paid off in the end or something like this.
Preston: [01:05:28] So real fast. What was the most memorable. Taking the Everest part out of it of all these different summits that you did both of the polls. What would you say is the one thing that was just really unique or was just a really cool story from all of it that you could tell.
Colin: [01:05:45] Yeah. Yeah. You know two things come to mind when you ask that question that I have this video clip of Mike and I filmed a lot of this myself so I reflect on some of these video clips that I have. But there was this moment when I actually step off the plane in Antarctica and it’s a moment where my first expedition is beginning and I just am so blown away by the landscape as I’m looking around. It’s just like another planet just white. I describe it before it’s like standing inside the belly of a ping pong ball like it’s just this surreal environment. As you look around it and it was this amazing feeling of oh I actually get to do this now because I’ve been working so hard in the planning and convincing people to support this project in the sort of like I said the entrepreneurial spirit behind building this whole campaign that it was this great moment of like oh it sounds crazy that the first step is like with all these ridiculousness in front of me and of course I know like the pain and trauma that’s kind of like happened and the hardship that’s going to go through this. But it was like yes like I got to do this and whoa where am I right now.
Colin: [01:06:46] And then the other place is that is pretty incredible as well is actually the North Pole that stands out. I mean hiking across literally a frozen ocean where ice is drifting underneath you is wild. Like we set up camp at night go to sleep and then we’d check our guest in the morning we have a big smile on her face or a frown because we’d actually been drifting like oh great we drifted a mile closer to the pole in the middle of the night or damn it we you know we shifted the right way. So it’s a crazy environment with these huge icebergs essentially and big flows of ice cracking each other. So we’re you know actually carrying our sleds over ten foot walls of ice where ice have kind of compacted and below it just like in terms of the landscape it’s one of things it’s like you can’t even believe it exists. And to tell you there it’s just a wild wild place and so to have the opportunity for me to experience places like that and the wild unknown was just such a incredibly fortunate experience I’m so grateful to be able to have experienced that unbelievable.
Preston: [01:07:44] So this is what I want people to really hear out of all of this your message is a message of mindset and talk to us about what you’ve learned through this entire journey because what happened to you back in Thailand was probably the biggest blessing in your life although you didn’t realize it at the time it was the deepest darkest thing that could ever happen to you. But when you look back at everything that’s unfolded since you probably would have never done any of this without that event correct.
Colin: [01:08:14] Absolutely. You know people ask me sometimes if you go back in a time machine would you still jump that flaming rope and of course I know the pain and trauma that it caused me and my family and all that sort of stuff but I’d be lying to say that. It also taught me you know simultaneously one of life’s greatest lessons which is resilience and perseverance and getting through hard times because unfortunately in life and I hope that nobody out there is you know goes to the exact same accident as me. But as we all go through life we inevitably face setbacks and traumas of some kind. And really what I’ve realized over time is it’s up to us how we’re going to react to those things in that hospital room. I could have gone down that deep dark downward spiral which I wanted to but my mother pulled me out of there and showed me another way. And what I’ve realized is this amazing ability that we have in our own minds to shift toward that positive mindset and keep taking steps forward one step at a time. And yes sometimes I mean I’m obviously a big believer in setting this audacious goal like just saying like hey I’m going to climb the tallest man in the world and it’s like I’m not a professional mountaineer and I don’t have funding but like I’m going to do it like sounded ridiculous. But then what did I do. I said OK what can I do today. I figured that was maybe a con on my computer and Google. What are the tallest mountain you know like literally the first baby’s death. The same example of great kid you want to race that track when you’re in a wheelchair. You need to figure out take one step today and so something that I really you know is a huge part of my life.
Colin: [01:09:41] But I also tell others I actually symbolically I carry around a small rock with me which is actually a rock from the summit of Mt. Everest. And the reason that I carry that around with me as a totem now is it’s a daily reminder for me that even Mt. Everest even the biggest mountain in the world ultimately can be broken down to its smallest component parts a bunch of small rocks stacked on top of each other in lot of ways many steps leading to the summit. And so for me living by that and shifting a mindset towards the positive when facing obstacles is when facing setbacks when facing when setting audacious goals. That is how we get there we set the goal. That’s the North Star I know you guys focus a lot on on billionaires and the way people will you know accumulate wealth like all those people had amazingly huge ideas that were industry shattering ideas that probably most people said that’s crazy that’s not going to work here’s all a million reasons why but they’re like nope I believe in myself and not only I believe myself I’m going to wake up every day and take that one smaller step or stack that one tiny little rock and eventually after you know thousands if not millions of rocks are stacked on top of each other. I’m going to reach the summit of you know whatever your Mt. Everest is and so so much of that comes from having that positive mindset believing in yourself and really realizing that setbacks are inevitable obstacles are inevitable. But it’s how we choose to react to them is what makes all the difference in the longer couldn’t have said it any better.
Preston: [01:11:06] I want everyone so we have a ton of people listening to the show. A lot of people in finance. Please tell people about your nonprofit where they can go to donate because I know there’s a lot of people listening to this that would love to help you and your wife out with your incredible nonprofits to tell them everything about it. We’ll have the link in the show notes so people can go there and donate.
Colin: [01:11:29] Yeah absolutely. So I’m doing the best way to track me down. I’m pretty active on social. I’m calling a Brady just just my name as well as our nonprofit is called Beyond seven to seven for the summits and the two for the polls is what we named it. So beyond seven Today.com is the Web site. A lot of information on the work that we do in schools and with kids and everything like that. So all the information is on there as well as I’m sure in the show not sure Greiling. My TED talk and other media that kind of tells a story in different format and whatnot. So yeah definitely please. We love hearing from people read out just love and support and all of that means the world to us and really like I said my larger purpose for doing all these things is not to just pat myself on the back and say oh great I’ve done some amazing things but it’s really to be you know a catalyst of inspiration for others to tackle hard things because I think as humans we have so much inside of all of us and can achieve great things and it’s really I’ve been inspired by so many people over time and mentors and different stories and to the power of storytelling is just so rich and valuable so I love the opportunity and thank you President for giving me the opportunity to share this story today.
Preston: [01:12:41] This is so inspirational for people because everyone’s got these goals out there and they’re here in this story and I’m thinking hey if this guy can go do that kind of stuff I can surely do this goal that I have on my plate that I’m looking to accomplish so Colin. Thank you. I’m just honored to have met you and to just share a little time with you on the mountain. And then today as well so thank you for your time. Absolutely. My pleasure. Thanks for having me. So I know this episode was very different than things we’ve done in the past but I wanted to share some of the incredible stories that were captured from this unique experience. Unfortunately Stig wasn’t able to attend the event due to prior engagements but he’ll be with us on the next episode. So thanks for listening and we’ll see you guys next week.
Books and Resources Mentioned in this Podcast
Jesse Itzler’s 29029 Mount Everest Event
Jesse Itzler’s Best Selling Book, Living With A Seal
Colin O’Brady’s Foundation, Beyond 72
Pictures and Videos of 29,029 and Colin O’Brady’s Grand Slam.
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After summiting Everest last year on May 19th I had just one mountain left to climb to set two new world records: Denali. Without even spending a night in a hotel in Kathmandu, I rushed down from Everest's summit and flew all the way to Alaska to attempt to conquer my final peak. Having been going more than 135 days straight at that point from when I arrived to the South Pole in January I was suffering from deep fatigue. But with the finish line in my sights I summed my last ounces of strength and pushed towards the top. #Outdoor #explore #adventure #snow #ice #travel #wanderlust #climbing #climb #mountains #lifegoals #goBeyond #SevenSummits #Everest #Denali #Alaska #Nationalparks #nepal #himalayas
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A year ago today with time running out to set the Seven Summits world record my dear friend and climbing partner @tuckercunninghamski and I stepped out of our tent at 14,000ft camp on Denali hoping that we were going to the summit and this is the conditions we found…forecast we're calling for this weather system to stick around for at least a week and we had only 24 hours to get to the summit to set the second world record. It was a very tense time as over 130 days had boiled down to this moment. What to do?! #Denali #alaska #mountaineering #Outdoor #explore #adventure #snow #ice #travel #wanderlust #climbing #climb #mountains #lifegoals #goBeyond #SevenSummits #Nationalparks
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A year ago today I took this photo stepping out of my tent at Camp 4 in the "Death Zone" on Everest as I left for my final summit push. I was equally scared and excited as I climbed through the night reaching toward my childhood dream of standing on top of the world. #nepal #Himalayas #Everest #Outdoor #explore #adventure #snow #ice #travel #wanderlust #climbing #climb #mountains #lifegoals #goBeyond #SevenSummits
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This is what suffering through the night in an unexpected snow and wind storm in the death zone (26,000ft) looks like. Caught out at Camp 4 on Everest is not ideal and to be honest pretty scary! #Everest #Nepal #Himalayas #Outdoor #explore #adventure #snow #ice #travel #wanderlust #climbing #climb #mountains #lifegoals #goBeyond
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"Summit of Mt. Everest…" this was the first ever Snapchat from the summit of Everest, May 19th 2016. (My Snap profile Beyond_72) Fun to be able to share this journey far and wide. #Everest #Nepal #Himalayas #Outdoor #explore #adventure #snow #ice #travel #wanderlust #climbing #climb #mountains #lifegoals #goBeyond
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A year ago I arrived at the South Pole, the first expedition complete on my journey to break the speed record for the Explorers Grand Slam. Tonight I have been invited to speak at @the_explorers_club in NYC to share the story of my journey. Many of the greatest explorers (Sir Edmund Hillary, Theodore Roosevelt) have been members of the club including the first human to ever set foot at the South Pole, Roald Amundsen. I am honored and humbled to be invited to share my journey within this hallowed ground of the Explorers Club. #antarctica #southpole #polar #explore #adventure #snow #ice #travel #wanderlust #climbing #climb #mountains #lifegoals #goBeyond