The Man, the App and the Mountain.
My blog is like an abandoned house in the suburbs, whose owner has moved on to (seemingly) better pastures. I rarely write anymore, except for the odd poetic rant, where I force unrelated words like “Ptolemy” and “blasphemy” to cohabit in rather peaceful co-existence.
So, this post might be seen more as a deviation from the normal, just like the man this post talks about. Adrian Ballinger is one extraordinary man who has no clue about who I am. Yet, over the last four months he has managed to keep me glued with his stupendous effort of climbing Mt. Everest without supplemental oxygen, while posting non-dog filtered photos and videos of his climb on Snapchat.
These micro updates culminated into a successful climb on Mar 27, 2017 when Adrian reached the top of Everest for the seventh time — the first time without supplemental oxygen. The story becomes much more interesting when we factor in the fact that Adrian Ballinger had to turn away less than 1,000 feet from the Everest summit in 2016, just hours away from the summit. Exercising restraint in such environments — when your IQ is falling like the Dow Jones in the wake of the 2008 crisis — is a remarkable achievement. It is much easier to believe that you will make it and not give up especially with glory in sight. But by calling it a day, Adrian Ballinger accepted the age old fact that the mountain is going to be there forever, but you wouldn’t.
A single summit attempt consumes a period of 2–4 months away from your family, a year of exercise and severe dieting. Furthermore, costs are prohibitory with an organized climb costing anything between USD25,000 to USD80,000 depending on how king-like you want to live. Hence, such a failure alone would have deterred some from going through the grind again.
However, not being among the some, Adrian Ballinger approached his 2017 attempt scientifically. The folks at UC Davis and two renowned fitness coaches came together to piece together a new Keto diet. For someone who had been munching cookies and energy bars on his last attempt, Ballinger had the royal sum of 1 cookie in this year, that too on his 41st birthday. Samsung, Strava and Garmin came together to help Adrian manage his analytics. Johnson, one of his coaches, summed it rather perfectly, “It’s not the diet, and it’s not the training. It’s the diet and the training.”
Astoundingly, in his 2017 attempt, he ascended 2,395 feet in the harsh low oxygen environment of Everest at a pace of 13:04 a mile! Extrapolating that after considering the altitude and grade of Everest gives us a pace of 6:08 a mile at the sea level! At 41, if you can reach those figures, you definitely deserve Everest (and probably, also, a Bollywood Movie — with Aamir Khan playing Ballinger and running along Everest as a promise to his mum).
Deservedly so, Adrian Ballinger fought against the stars (and also reached very close to them) and reached the summit via the North Side of the Everest, forever enshrining himself in the memory of countless armchair climbers like yours truly. For someone like me, who grew up reading about the heroics of Bachendri Pal as the first Indian woman on Everest, his Snaps were as closest to Everest that I could get.
His story not only speaks of the triumph of the sheer will power of a person, but is also an exercise in achieving success through respecting the physical limitations of our mortal bodies. In a world where Snapchat has become synonymous for demonstrating underachievement in an evanescent span of 8 seconds, Adrian Ballinger has given serious food for thought to millennials through his #EverestNoFilter campaign.
Follow the last few fleeting glimpses of his campaign on the username ‘everestnofilter’ on snapchat. All data has been quoted from Sports Illustrated, Everest No Filter and associated websites.