Adventures of a Hemophiliac

What’s Your Everest?

I was scanning through Facebook, wondering what to write about for Sunday night, and came across a post by one of my hemo-heroes, Luis Andres Aguayo. I’ve never met “L.A.”, though he wrote an article for PEN last year and we’ve chatted on the phone. He is a body-builder, and posts regularly about his competitions and more importantly about his training. 
Despite the fact that I’m old enough to be his mother, his posts inspire me; his life inspires me. His physique is incredible. He has absolutely sculpted it through determination, goal-setting, pain, and infinite number of hours in the gym. All the while, he remains humble and a joy to speak with. 
Chris Bombardier on Carstenz Pyramid, one of
the Seven Summits
I’m training too, for a mountain trek to Everest base camp in April with another hemo-hero, Chris Bombardier from Colorado. Chris also has goals, determination and infinite hours spent hiking and climbing to prepare. And… I am also old enough to be his mother!
Training is hard at age 59, even when you think you’re in pretty good shape. These two heroes have hemophilia, and when I think of what they are accomplishing in spite of their disorders, I get motivated to push harder. Chris has already summited five of the Seven Summits! L.A. came close to winning being on the cover of a men’s fitness magazine! I love mountain climbing, and I love weight training, so it’s natural I enjoy following these guys as they train.
But it’s tough for me. Even just five years ago I saw tremendous change when I worked out consistently. Now, it’s like everything takes twice as much for half the results. But I keep going!
Tonight I am aching all over from a double whammy: training at 8 am for an hour with my trainer Dan French, and later in the day running 6 miles in the 45° weather. My treadmill died last week (no, not from overusing it) and nothing beats running outside. I felt good but ouch, later on, aching knees and back.
One of my hemo-heroes!
I have 6 weeks left before the Everest trek. Here’s what a typical week is like while training:
Sunday: Day off. Recovery is very important for the body, especially at this age. I’m paranoid about getting an injury which is all too easy to do.
Monday: Yoga for 30 minutes (a MUST!). Training with Dan, upper body and abs, one hour.
Tuesday: Yoga. Cardio… either in the gym in Salisbury, Massachusetts, or at my home gym. I can ride my stationery bike while watching a documentary about mountain climbing, or throw on a 20-lb backpack and hike up and down for 90 ridiculous minutes on a plyo box over and over while watching Dr. Strange or Mad Max. Superhero movies make you feel empowered! This is a killer workout.
Wednesday: Training with Dan, lower body (tons of lunges and jump squats) and abs.
Thursday: Yoga. Cardio, maybe the elliptical for 90 minutes at the gym, excellent workout!
Friday: Yoga. Training with Dan, speed work-out. This is a killer too. Usually Dan and I chat about music, but 10 minutes into this workout I can’t talk. I even get dizzy.
Saturday: More cardio!
And food: 75% of training is eating the right food and having the right diet. Dan analyzed my diet 6 years ago when he was getting me ready for Kilimanjaro and saw I needed more water and protein, and basically overhauled how I ate. So I cut out (for the most part): soda, diet soda, fruit juice, alcohol, sugar. We don’t keep any of that in the house. No pasta, white bread, desserts. A typical day goes just like this:
Breakfast: three scrambled egg whites, cantaloupe or banana, black tea.
Lunch: (and after a workout) A protein shake with banana, pineapple (or berries), 14 raw almonds and GNC Whey protein powder. Delish.
Dinner: I don’t actually eat dinner unless I go out. Why? I don’t know how to cook and don’t even like to cook. Things burn and catch fire all the time. So I have another shake, or a salad with protein (shrimp, eggs), or a banana with organic peanut butter. I eat out about twice a week, when I’ll have fish. 
My demons? Movie popcorn and M&Ms. I love going to movies and twice I have not had movie popcorn and it was not the same experience! And Dan tells me movie popcorn is the worst thing you can eat, next to Cinnabon.
Despite having a trainer, I still get motivation from people like L.A. and Chris. As they give hope to young guys with hemophilia to reach their dreams, I hope I can inspire some moms who want to get in shape. It’s never too late to start. It helps to have a goal, a big goal, like a mountain climb. Kilimanjaro was an incredible experience, both times! And I know Everest base camp will be a dream come true. 
L.A. wrote this recently on Facebook: “Keep this in my notes! What’s your one sentence destiny? The vision you base your decisions on?” His is, “Use adversity to change others’ lives.” And Jordan Romero, the youngest person to conquer the Seven Summits, asks, “What’s Your Everest?”
I love that. Our Everest climb will put a spotlight we hope on Nepal and its people with hemophilia, who live in hardship, especially after the 2015 earthquake. We’re going to meet with the 80 people we help through Save One Life. You can follow L.A. and Chris on Facebook, and read HemaBlog to see how the training and eventually the climb are going!
Great Book I Just Read
No Summit Out of Sight: The True Story of the Youngest Person to Climb the Seven Summits
Jordan Romero
An inspirational book about the boy who summited Everest at age 13, and conquered all Seven Summits by age 15. Despite warnings from critics about having someone so young attempt something so dangerous, Jordan was well prepared, genetically-gifted and just plain lucky. He documents what inspired him, his training, his observations of the countries, people and climbs. It’s fun and interesting, and Jordan’s a marvel. He uses his climbs to motivate other children now by posing the question: What’s your Everest? A light read, but very engaging. Kudos to this remarkable young man and his family! 3/5 stars.

Summit 4: Heart of a Lion

Chris Bombardier has a soft-spoken demeanor, but has the heart of a lion. He just bagged his fourth summit, in his attempt to be the first person with hemophilia to conquer the Seven Summits—the highest summits on each continent.It was a tough, grueling climb, the hardest one he has done to date, he confided, and that’s saying a lot.  But the outcome was worth it!

Three more to go, the last being the breathtaking Mt. Everest. Congratulations, Chris!

Chris’s climbs benefit Save One Life, the nonprofit I founded to help children with hemophilia in developing countries. So he not only climbs for personal challenge, but to advance hemophilia care for those who have none. Heart of a Lion!

Please read this excerpt from his blog, and visit “Adventures of a Hemophiliac” to read the rest of the story, and about his upcoming climbs! (Thanks SO much to ASD Healthcare, Reliance Factor of America and BDI Pharma for supporting Chris’s climb!) Visit to learn more.

Denali/Mt. McKinley Part 2: Lower Glacier to 14,000ft

Submitted by Chris Bombardier on Thu, 2014-07-31 09:09This year, Denali lived up to the hype of brutal weather.   Summit rates plummeted from the typical 50% to the low 30% when we   arrived in Talkeetna, and having a HUGE snow day so early into the trip   made us all a bit concerned. After our snowshoe fun we discussed our   plan of action. Our amazing guide Melis decided we needed to wait for   the snow to settle before heading up the mountain. Not only would this   lessen the danger of avalanches, but also make travel over the feet of   new snow easier. Another group had different plans and wanted to move as   soon as the snow stopped and the clouds cleared. We saw them struggle   past our camp and begin the ascent of Ski Hill. Hours later they were   still in sight. It took them 6 hours to reach a point that only took us 2   hours a few days before. I was so glad our guide made the decision to   leave bright and early the next morning.

We woke up at 3 A.M. the following day and the weather looked great. We packed up camp, organized all our gear, and headed out. Luckily, the team that left the night before broke trail up Ski Hill and we moved quite easily. We found the other group camped not far from where we last saw them. They must’ve been exhausted and had to camp there. Another AMS team left a few hours before us so the trail was also broken most of the way. About 3/4 of the way to 11,000 camp we passed the other AMS team descending back to Camp 1. They cached their gear and were heading back for the night. From there on out it looked like we would be breaking trail. Melis lead to the cache and when we arrived we decided to pick up ALL of our gear and head up the final hill. I was feeling good until this point. Then things changed quickly.

From the cache we only had a few hundred feet of untracked snow to make it to the rest of the trail. These few hundred feet were the worst of the entire trip. I was second on the rope team following our guide Mike. He charged into the fresh snow and was moving quickly. I was trying to step opposite of him so that the snow would be packed down evenly for the others. It was brutal! We were sinking knee deep in snow on snowshoes! I think I would’ve been able to handle it but the pace was too fast for me. Instead of asking Mike to slow down I tried to tough it out. I failed. By the time I said something my legs were dead and we still had the entire hill left. The next 2 hours were brutal. I asked for more breaks and my legs finally came back. We made it to camp and I hoped that was the worst day I would have on the mountain. I knew from then on I would be more vocal about how I was feeling. There is no shame in asking for a break or slowing down the pace a bit.

We had a much needed rest day after our move to 11,000ft camp, at least much needed for me. It was an infusion day and I really wanted to do it outside with the amazing views around. Unfortunately, the weather didn’t cooperate and I was restricted to my tent. The infusion went well and I was ready to roll for our next trip up the mountain. If you want to see the video of my tent infusion check out my Facebook page.

With my body restored I was ready to tackle our next goal, caching gear near Windy Corner on the trail towards 14,000ft camp. We ditched the sleds for this part of the climb which was amazing! I would much rather have a heavier backpack than pull a sled. At this point of the trip we really started climbing the mountain and weren’t just making the approach. Distances between the camps weren’t as great but the elevation gain was pretty much the same. Our first obstacle was Motorcycle Hill. This is where I really felt like I was climbing a mountain. The terrain started getting steep and strangely I started to feel stronger. We knocked out Motorcycle Hill quite nicely and turned up Squirrel Hill. As we were climbing Squirrel Hill our guide informed us of the massive cliff just out of site. That definitely heightened my senses and made me focus even more on every step. A massive avalanche slid over a cliff on the other side of the valley. I have never been so close to a slide and you could really feel the power of it. It was a great reminder that the mountain is always in control.

The weather kept improving throughout the day and when we cached we had an amazing view. It’s always an amazing feeling being on a mountain above the clouds. After we buried our cache we headed down. As we descended Squirrel and Motorcycle Hill I was in the lead of our group. The view was absolutely breathtaking and up to that point, it was my favorite day on a mountain. I felt strong again and confident that this was going to be a great trip. That night we got word that another storm may roll in. We built up wind walls around our tents and prepared to be there for awhile.

The wind picked up overnight and some snow fell but it wasn’t as bad as we thought, but still not great to move in. Melis thought we were going to be stuck for the day until the clouds suddenly started to break. Our guide made a few satellite phone calls to make sure this break would last and decided we needed to pack up and go for it. We took down the tents in the late morning and were on our way to 14,000ft camp just after noon. The trail was harder due to the new snow but we still made great progress. As we reached the top of Squirrel Hill the wind started to pick up and we knew we needed to get around Windy Corner as quickly as possible. Lets just say I get why they call it Windy Corner. We didn’t pick up the rest of our cache this time but we did stop and grab our helmets off the top as we passed the corner. The wind was howling. I grabbed my helmet, continued walking, and then waited for my teammate behind me to put his helmet on. It seemed like it was taking forever. As I glanced back to see what was going on, a freezing gust of wind and blowing snow slammed against my face. I could barely make out my teammate and just turned my back to the wind. The next 10-15 minutes of climbing around Windy Corner were brutal. Then as we crossed onto the 14,000ft side of the corner, the mountain turned peaceful. It was an amazing transformation. We continued on to camp which was still a few hours away. We pulled in around midnight, set up camp, cooked some food, and crashed hard. Another tough, tough day on the mountain. We were now in a fantastic position to get up the mountain and I really felt great at this point.

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