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The mountains are calling and I must go, and I will work on while I can, studying incessantly.

- John Muir

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Expeditions

Dec 20, 2018

Colin O’Brady: The 50 Highest Points in Each US State and Another World Record

Colin O’Brady sets his third world record, undertakes new challenge in 2018 with support from Standard Process Inc.

WRITTEN BY

The Outdoor Journal

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It is 2:54 a.m. on July 19, 2018, and Colin O’Brady set a new world record. For 21 days, Colin non-stop travelled and climbed with his sights on achieving the fastest time to summit the highest peak in all 50 states in the U.S. Standing atop the summit of Mt. Hood that morning, he officially achieved his goal.

Shattering The U.S. 50-State High Points Record

Drought. Lightning strike. Grueling 26-hour climbs. Multiple climbs per day. Colin O’Brady battled it all in an exhilarating 21-day race against the world clock to climb the tallest peak in all 50 states across the U.S. The 13,000-mile cross-country trek came to a close when O’Brady summited Mt. Hood in his hometown state of Oregon. The Portland native was greeted by friends, family, enthusiasts and locals who cheered on O’Brady in support of his goal.

Colin O’Brady, the 50HP world record holder.

In total, O’Brady walked, ran, hiked and climbed more than 300 trail miles, beating the previous 41-day record set in 2016 by 20 days. On two separate occasions, O’Brady had to skip a peak and come back to it later due to restricted access and unsafe weather conditions. Arizona’s Humphrey’s Peak was temporarily closed due to fire danger caused by lack of rain to the area and Mt. Whitney, California’s high point, was closed due to a lightning strike that caused a forest fire. The final week of this world record attempt in the Pacific Northwest was especially strenuous due to extreme elevations. O’Brady climbed 150 miles across 8 peaks in just 7 days, with no single peak falling below 11,000 feet.

O’Brady was eager to welcome people to join him on the trails or via social media. He often took to Instagram to share his progress and encourage followers to explore their own backyard and celebrate public lands. He received some extra special support from his Dad, who joined him on four separate climbs to celebrate his 60th birthday. Fitz and the Tantrums Drummer, John Wicks, joined O’Brady in Montana to tackle the 12,799-foot Granite Peak. The Missoula native is a personal friend of O’Brady’s and also an ultra-marathon runner and avid mountain climber.

Over the course of the past few years, Colin has become used to the spotlight.

“Nothing can really prepare you for the sheer exhaustion and physical strain that this kind of rapid push creates,” said O’Brady. “It was an ambitious goal, wanting to knock out all 50 peaks in just 21 days. But it really does take a village. I’m beyond grateful for my family and friends, and the much-needed community support at each stop. I also owe a huge thanks to Standard Process and their new Nutrition Innovation Center for both the preparation and the supplement regimen they put me on in the months leading up to the challenge. It put me in a great place to begin this journey and allowed my body to recover properly along the way. Without their support, I think I’d still be somewhere on Gannett Peak right now!”

Colin makes his way down Mount Hood, back towards friends, having broken another world record.

As the exclusive nutritional supplement partner, Standard Process worked with O’Brady to prepare his body to meet this rigorous challenge. Dr. John Troup, PhD, Standard Process Vice President of Clinical Science, Education, & Innovation, led the clinical team at the Standard Process Nutrition Innovation Center (NIC) to run a series of state-of-the-art diagnostic tests to determine the exact nutrients O’Brady needed. The Center is the only active clinical research center of its kind, dedicated to both mid-and long-term support of whole food clinical nutrition.

“We’re so excited to be a part of Colin’s monumental achievement,” said Charlie DuBois, Standard Process President and CEO. “Colin O’Brady is not like a lot of people in this world. He pushes himself to accomplish the seemingly impossible, and then he’s on to the next big goal. We’re inspired and we’re proud to be part of his nutritional journey to peak health.”

The Impossible First

Standard Process continues to support Colin as he pursues his fourth record, The Shackleton Expedition. Also known as The Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition, Colin is now undertaking an unsupported and unaided 1,000-mile solo trek across Antarctica’s icy terrain in frigid -40°F temperatures, gusting 58-mile-per-hour winds and total daylight – unable to re-supply, use wind aids or have human contact aside from a daily safety-check phone call.

In order to embark on this extreme adventure from November 2018 through January 2019, Colin needed to be in peak mental and physical condition. As part of the Standard Process sponsorship, NIC staff worked closely with Colin to develop a whole food-based supplement plan that further enhanced his own nutritional plan. This included developing nutrition bars for Colin to consume alongside his primary caloric and nutritional intake during the challenge.

Follow Colin and The Impossible First expedition here.

About Colin

A lifelong user of chiropractic care and Standard Process supplements, Colin is fueled by passion and excellence, inspiring others to embark on their own journey to peak health, no matter how big or small.

Born on an organic farm in Olympia, Washington, Colin is a lifelong advocate and user of chiropractic and acupuncture services. He did not begin his athletic life as a mountaineer chasing world records. In high school, he excelled in both swimming and soccer and was eventually recruited to swim competitively for Yale University. After a near-death experience in 2008 where he suffered severe burns to nearly 25% of his body, he came back 18 months later by winning the Chicago Triathlon’s Amateur Division in 2009. This led him to return to the mountains and launched his career as a professional endurance athlete. His world record achievements also include an Explorers Grand Slam speed record and a previous Seven Summits speed record.

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About Standard Process

Standard Process is guided by the whole food philosophy of its founder, Dr Royal Lee. Dr Lee’s goal was to provide nutrients as found in nature, where he believed their natural potency and efficacy would be realized. Today, Standard Process proudly carries on Dr Lee’s legacy and regularly grows more than 80 percent of the raw plant ingredients found in its products on its certified organic farm in Palmyra, Wisconsin. Using state-of-the-art manufacturing processes to retain vital nutrients within each ingredient, Standard Process manufactures its supplements in its NSF International-certified facility. Standard Process employs high-quality control standards and follows the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s good manufacturing practices. For more information, visit: standardprocess.com

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Expeditions

Jul 29, 2019

Trans Himalaya 2019: Breathless in the Himalaya

In an unprecedented Himalayan snowfall, ultra-runner Peter Van Geit breaks out his ice axe to access undocumented passes in the High Himalayas.

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WRITTEN BY

Peter Van Geit

Last month, The Outdoor Journal received the first contact from Peter Van Geit on his 2,500 km self-supported journey across 100+ Himalayan high passes in Himachal, Ladakh, and Uttarakhand, accompanied by filmmaker Neil D’Souza. In his latest update, Peter navigates unpassable verticle cliffs and holy glacial lakes along his spellbinding adventure.

After completing the entire length of Uttarakhand in 17 passes, I entered the neighbouring state of Himachal Pradesh. I had been doing 600-700 km ultra runs through this beautiful state in previous years on lesser-traveled roads in remote valleys. This time I was targetting several passes across the high mountains in three major sections: the Great Himalayan National Park (GHNP) a wildlife sanctuary and protected biosphere, the Dhauladhar range separating the Kangra plains and Chamba valley, and the Pir Panjal range separating Chamba from Lahaul. As of mid-July, I completed 45 high altitude passes touching 4,600 meters and heavy snow due to unprecedented snowfall this winter.

Shepherds from Barmour descending from the snow-covered Chaurasi pass at 4700m in Chamba valley on their way to graze their herds in the high altitude meadows around the Chaurasi Ka Dal lake.
Panoramic view from the Gaj pass at 4100m from the Dhauladhar high range onto the snow-covered Lam Dal Lake in the upper range of the Chamba valley. Late summer after the snow melts tens of thousands of pilgrims visit this holy lake.

Climbing above 4,000 meters in early summer meant cutting through steep, frozen snow gullies with my ice axe, opening several passes not yet traversed by anyone or following the fresh trail of the shepherds who had just migrated across some passes. With the Northeast monsoon setting in soon, I’ll be moving next to the high altitude deserts of Lahaul and Zanskar to complete several 5,000-meter plus passes and come back down to Garhwal in Uttarakhand in September once the rains in the lower Himalayas subside.

Read next on TOJ: Alpine-Style, Ultra-Challenge in the Himalayan High Passes

GHNP is cornered between the high ranges of the Parvati National Park and Kinnaur. Three major rivers flow through this national reserve: the Tirthan, Sainj and Jiwa Nala separated by sharp, steep rising ridges. With no accurate trail info available on the Internet (no blog references meant few people or none have hiked here) I explored all three valleys using a very rough PDF sketch map made available by the tourism office and crossed over through three steep passes. The park has some of the steepest and most inaccessible rock cliffs I have encountered. Losing the trail here meant getting stuck inside near-vertical cliffs.

Sharing a cup of tea beneath the onset of the monsoon clouds with these shepherds while climbing up to the Waru pass at 3870m while crossing over the Dhauladhar range from Chamba valley to the Kangra plains.
Hospitality in the mountains. Night stay and dinner with these two shepherds on a ridge above the Jalsu pass in the Dhauladhar range of Himachal. Beautiful views on the snow-covered Mani Mahesh in the background, one of the seven Holi shrines of lord Shiva.

Once the snow melts on the higher ranges, many young men in Uttarakhand and Himachal go out in search for the “Jungli Nalla”, a high altitude medicinal root which is smuggled across the border from Tibet into China. One kilogram fetches 20 thousand rupees ($300 USD). Spending one and a half months in the mountains provides sufficient income for the rest of the year. While hiking deep inside the GHNP, I came across several villagers digging for both roots as well as large, beautiful rock quartz crystals.

Dhauladhar is a 4,000-meter plus mountain range which rises up steeply from the Kangra plains between Dharamsala and Palampur. Several passes cross over to the beautiful Chamba valley fed by the Ravi river which flows down from the high ranges separating Kullu-Chamba-Lahaul districts. There are several high altitude glacial lakes in the Dhauladhar which are considered holy and visited during an annual late summer pilgrimage by the local people. Most of the lakes were still covered under a thick sheet of frozen snow when I passed by.

Woman carrying home firewood from the forest in Lug valley in Himachal Pradesh for cooking purposes. With no road access or electricity in many remote hamlets, people rely on natural resources for home building and cooking.
Two Gurjar (mountain tribe) from Mumbardar in Chamba valley of Himachal were grazing their buffaloes in the alpine meadows above the clouds and upon seeing me passing by immediately invited me over for dinner and a night stay in their mud home.

I crossed five passes in the Dhauladhar: Baleni, Minkiani, Indrahar, Waru and Gaj pass between 3,800 to 4,300 meters coming across heavy snow at the North facing (less exposure to the sun) Chamba side. The most adventurous was Waru at 3,870 meters, a lesser-known pass used only by shepherds (which means undocumented) where I lost the trail several times. Trying to get back on track, I had to scramble through dense forest and climb down through several side gullies which had cut deeply into the valley slope resulting in several “free solo” moments while climbing down 100-meter plus vertical drops. I survived several breathless and adrenaline rushing moments here until I set a foothold on firm ground again.

One of the near-vertical rock descents into a snow-covered gully which deeply cut inside the main valley while navigating my way “off-trail” to the Waru pass across the Pir Panjal in Himachal.

The Pir Panjal is a high range of 5,000meter peaks separating the Chenab river valley (geopolitically split across Pangi and Lahaul districts) and Chamba valley. Shepherds from Chamba annually migrate with large herds of 300 to 1,000 sheep and goats across several very steep 4,500 meter passes to graze the high altitude meadows of Pangi and Lahaul which produces better quality milk and meat. They return home only five months later at the end of the summer before the passes close again.

Camping below the stardust of the milky way while camping at Trakdi along the Manji Khad stream inside the beautiful Dhauladhar mountains near Dharamsala in Himachal.

I crossed the Marhu, Darati and Chaurasi passes touching 4,200 to 4,600 meters, all undocumented, following the footsteps of the Gaddis or shepherds who had just crossed over. The most adventurous and scary one is Darati, which is a sheer vertical 1,000-meter rockface that seems impossible to climb at first sight. From steep snow-covered ridges on top of the pass to a labyrinth of narrow passages through steep rock faces, one can only imagine how shepherds traverse these with 500 sheep. About 5% of the sheep do not make it alive to the other side.

Shepherds from Chamba Valley, Himachal at the base of the Darati pass waiting to cross over the steep snow-covered pass in early July across the Pir Panjal range into the high altitude meadows of Lahaul.
Women at Kalprai village in Chamba valley harvesting wheat on the rooftops of the mud separating the grains from the stem by hitting with large sticks while rhythmically rotating in a circle.

I experienced one of the most spellbinding moments in my entire journey so far while I was about to climb up the Chaurasi pass. At exactly the same moment, a massive herd of more than a thousand sheep and goats descended down the snow-covered pass displaying their natural skill to traverse these very steep slopes. They were guided by ten shepherds from Barmour district in Chamba on their way to the fairytale Chaurasi ki dal glacial lake surrounded by lush green meadows dotted with alpine flowers of all colors of the rainbow.

One thousand sheep descending from the snow-covered Chaurasi pass (4700m) in the Chamba valley in Himachal on their way from the plains to graze the high altitude meadows. They will only return home 5 months later at the onset of winter.

The most memorable moments in these remote valleys of the Himalayas have been my encounters and night stays with the Gujjars, or mountain tribes. Small, remote hamlets far beyond the last villages deep inside the forest, completely disconnected from civilization. These tribals live with their cattle in large beautiful rock and mud shelters built with huge pine tree trunks. They graze their buffaloes, horses, and sheep in the meadows which stay together with them under the same roof. Each and every encounter along my way with these native people has been one of heartwarming hospitality. After a full energy-draining pass crossing, ending up around a warm fire in a mud home eating freshly cooked food with these families who consider you as one of their own is beyond words.

Unseen hospitality with the Gujjars or mountain tribes in Chamba, Himachal who live disconnected from society deep inside the forests in mud homes grazing their cattle in high altitude meadows.
Overnight stay and dinner with the mountain tribes at Rali Dhar in Chamba, Himachal. The lady of the home is preparing yummy rottis (flat breads) on the fire with buffalo milk. They stay under one roof with their cattle.

Peter will continue to share his field notes with the hope of inspiring others to explore these beautiful locations. You can read more about Peter’s experiences and motivations in his interview here – Alpine-Style, Ultra-Challenge in the Himalayan High Passes. Stay tuned on The Outdoor Journal for Peter’s next update along his 2,500 km journey.

To follow Peter’s expedition, visit his blog.
Facebook: @PeterVanGeit
Instagram: @petervangeit
Chennai Trekking Club

For more Neil Productions, visit: http://neil.dj/
Facebook: @neilb4me

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