REACHING NEW HEIGHTS
ASCENT FOR A CURE
FIGHTING PARKINSON'S DISEASE
THE EVEREST PROJECT
Spring 2021, Founder Adam Hodges attempted the world's highest peak in Asia, Mount Everest. This effort was not for the sole purpose of climbing Everest, but for a larger cause - to raise awareness and provide funding for those suffering from Parkinson's Disease.
ABOUT ADAM HODGES
I climbed my first mountain over 20 years ago. The peak was Mt. Rainier in Washington State. Years before that, I had been hiking on Mt. Rainier with my brother Mac and had seen a group of climbers heading up, single file, to the base camp at Camp Muir. I thought it was the coolest thing ever and dreamed that day that I would return one day to do the same.......
ASCENT FOR A CURE is a movement. We are a charitable organization raising awareness and funds for those living with Parkinson's Disease by climbing the world's highest peaks. We aim to provide funding, education and programs that help to improve quality of life through physical activity. We inspire those around us to get involved by joining in on fitness challenges, volunteering time, or through sponsorship opportunities. For more information on AFAC or inquiries on becoming a partner, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Thank you to all of our Strategic Partners and supporters from the 2021 Everest Expedition. Adam successfully climbed to 26,000 ft at Camp 4. Watch our recap episode to learn more about what happened in the final days of the 2021 Everest Expedition.
ABOUT ADAM HODGES
I climbed my first mountain over 20 years ago. The peak was Mt. Rainier in Washington State. Years before that I had been hiking on Mt. Rainier with my brother Mac and had seen a group of climbers heading up, in single file, to the base camp at Camp Muir. I thought it was the coolest thing ever and dreamed that one day, I would return to do the same. A few years later, I returned to Mt. Rainier to do a guided climb with the guide company, Rainier Mountaineering, Inc. (RMI). We had great weather on that climb and I was able to make the summit. On that climb, I was impressed by one of the mountain guides named Craig Van Hoy. At the time, he held the speed record for climbing that same route in just over 5 hours. For us, it would take 2 full days of climbing to get to the summit and back down. I was struck by Craig's professionalism and his continual attention to the mountain conditions. I would later climb other peaks in the Cascade Range with Craig, including Mt. Baker and Mt. Shuksan. From there, I went down to Mexico with him on an expedition to climb the Mexican volcanoes Iztaccihautl at 17,159' and Pico de Orizaba at 18,491'.
After the Mexico climbs, I stepped back from climbing to concentrate on career and family. Then in 2007, I was able to go out to Mt. Hood near Portland, Oregon to do a short climb with Craig and a few others. We climbed the more technical Sunshine route on the North side of the mountain. It was an amazing climb and I was once again hooked on the sport. It was on this trip that Craig and I begin to plan a climb of Denali, the highest peak in North America. It was going to be a small expedition with just Craig, possibly one other guide, myself and two other climbers. At the last minute, this expedition fell through, which left me scrambling on what to do next. I had put in the work and trained hard for this and felt ready mentally and physically. I contacted the guiding company, Mt. Trip out of Colorado, and it turned out they had one spot left on their first expedition of the Denali climbing season. I was in. The downside - it would be first of May and Denali is super cold that early in the season. I'm talking 20 below zero cold. The expedition guides and members met up in Anchorage, Alaska. It was definitely an international group, with climbers from the U.K., Norway, and Sweden. There were also 3 climbers from Alaska and one other from Indiana. It was a super strong and experienced group. I quickly realized I was very average on such a strong team. We drove to Talkeetna, Alaska and waited for the opportunity to catch a bush plane to the mountain. There were 12 to 15 of us total including several guides and we were flown in 2 to 3 per plane with as much gear as could be safely loaded on board. I remember us weighing everything that went on board, including ourselves. The flight took about an hour and was a pretty amazing experience. We traveled North across the flat Alaskan tundra, but you could see the massive peaks in the distance. When we arrived at the mountain the pilot flew right between two peaks and banked hard right in order to circle around to land on the glacier. We landed, quickly unloaded all of our gear and then the pilot was gone. This process was repeated for the remaining team members. On that day, we began our 3 week journey up the mountain. It was extremely physical. We not only carried a pretty heavy pack, but also pulled a sled along behind us. We actually climbed the mountain many times over those three weeks. We had to transport all of our gear and supplies up the mountain as we went. This meant many carries up and then trips back down to rest, acclimatize and retrieve the remaining gear and supplies. We played leap frog like this day in and day out. There were times when we would be sweating and in t-shirts and times (when the clouds rolled in) when the temperature would drop well below zero. One night the temperature reached 20 below. All but one member of this expedition ended up summiting. That was a success rate way above the norm! It was truly a great team.
Then in December of 2009 I traveled down to Argentina to climb Aconcagua, the highest peak in South America. In contrast to the cold, icy conditions on Denali, the trek in to Aconcagua was warm and sunny. Our gear was packed in on horseback. We hiked in along the river in shorts and t-shirts. The terrain was dry and dessert like. Cactus plants grew along the trail and we had occasional jackrabbit sightings. Huge condors continually flew overhead. In a few days we eventually made our way up to base camp at just above 14,000 feet. The climb then turned real. Aconcagua is not a very technical climb, but it is extremely high at 22,841 feet. As we went higher the altitude began to work over the team pretty well. Several of the climbers dropped out along the way. About an hour below the summit, we encountered a climber that was suffering from altitude sickness, likely cerebral edema. His climbing partner (perhaps his wife) was panicked and she and some other climbers were trying to get him down to a lower elevation. I was suffering from a pretty intense headache at this point and witnessing this situation created some doubt as to whether or not I should continue on up. Ultimately, I decided to head on up. I began to feel better as we approached the summit and with the sudden adrenaline rush of standing on top of the highest mountain in South America, I began to feel great. We spent quite a while up there taking photos and taking in the amazing view before we headed back down to our high camp for some much needed rest. It would be several more days of hiking out before we would arrive back at our van at the park entrance.
Then in 2012, I decided to solo climb Mt. Elbrus, the highest mountain in Europe. Elbrus is located on the border between Russia and Georgia. I worked with a local tourism company in Nalchik, Russia to make my travel arrangements from Moscow to Elbrus and to obtain my climbing permit. Once I arrived in Moscow, I took a Russian flight to a town called Mineral Vody. From there, my tour guide had arranged for me to share a van ride to Nalchik. There were eight or ten students from Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan on the van. We spent the several hour van ride talking and singing. Once of them knew several Sinatra songs and I sang some Bee Gees songs for them. We eventually arrived in Nalchik and I met my tour guide for the first time. She was very nice and helpful. In the day or two she would drive me to the Mt. Elbrus region where I would begin the climb. A few days later, I would stand on top of the highest mountain in Europe, this time having climbed solo. I have to admit there were times when I was a little scared and asked myself what the heck I was doing up there.
In the years that passed after the Elbrus climb, I have hiked in the Canadian Rockies, climbed Mt. Quandary in Colorado with my wife Laura, and have hiked the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. I have also attempted climbs of Mt. Whitney with my 10 year old daughter Zoe and Mt. Shasta with Laura. Mountains have remained a big part of my life. It has been this climbing journey that has led me to the recent opportunity to once again climb with Craig, this time on the world's highest stage - Mt. Everest. It is at once awe inspiring and overwhelming. I began many weeks ago getting myself into top shape for the challenge, knowing this preparation will help me focus in on the best mental approach to the climb as well.
This climbing opportunity parallels another really important event in my life. About 12 weeks ago, The Fitness Center that I manage started a Rock Steady Boxing program for people with Parkinson’s disease. I’m not sure I had completely formed an expectation of what this program could become, but it has blown me away. We have 34 boxers in the program, each of them fighting against the debilitating effects of Parkinson’s disease. My team and I have seen virtually every member of the program make improvements since joining the program. I have personally formed many great friendships with members of the program. They are talented and gifted people. I’ve learned that Parkinson’s does not discriminate. It afflicts doctors and lawyers, teachers, police officers, and clergymen. It usually shows up in older adults, but sometimes strikes young adults.
I’m hoping to follow my dream to climb the highest mountain on each of the 7 continents. I’ve climbed three of them – Denali in North America, Aconcagua in South America, and Elbrus in Europe. Everest is the highest in Asia. If successful on Everest, the remaining 3 would be very doable. But I don’t want to do this just for the sake of climbing Everest. I believe this can be done for a greater cause and I hope this cause to be raising money and support for our local Parkinson’s program and for other programs like ours in Mississippi. I don’t want anyone to be turned away from getting the help they need to attain a more normal and functional life and to stop the progression of this grave disease.
Founder - AFAC