This week at Veteran Energy, we caught up with Chris Cobb, a U.S. Air Force veteran from Arizona climbing Mount Everest to raise money for the Fisher House Foundation. As you may know, Fisher House is one of Veteran Energy’s Affinity Partners. And we’re always impressed when we hear about others working to support these groups—especially when those supporters are climbing the world’s tallest mountain to do it.
Located on the border of Nepal and Tibet, Mount Everest’s temperature never rises above freezing, though the cold can drop to as low as minus 76 degrees. The air pressure high on the mountain, with its 29,029-foot summit, is only a third of that at sea level, making breathing difficult. Avalanches are common, and winds can be ferocious, sometimes reaching speeds of up to 200 mph.
We were lucky enough to catch Chris online during some downtime this week. Here’s what he had to say about his experience so far:
So right now, the weather has you stuck halfway up Mount Everest. How are you doing physically, mentally and emotionally? Right now, we’re at Everest Base Camp waiting on winds to die down on the top so we can take a crack at the summit. Currently, they are over 40 mph, and we need them lower than 20 to be safe. I’m good. I prepared myself before I left. One of the hardest things about this trip is that it’s over two months long, and a big portion is spent resting in between rotations and waiting on the weather to break. We have limited WiFi here, which helps so we can keep in touch with family back home, but you’ve got to be prepared mentally for long stretches of dormant time with no communication. Physically, I’m good, just trying to stay healthy and not get sick.
Why mountain climbing? And why Everest? Do you just like a challenge? And what’s been the biggest challenge so far about all of this? Yes, I’ve always been very goal oriented, and this was right up my alley. I started this journey about three years ago. My goal was to climb the highest mountain in the world. I started on Ranier, then Denali, and now I’m here. There’s nothing easy about this mountain. Every trip up poses new issues. It’s technical, steep in some places, long hikes, freezing cold …. But the biggest challenge is the elevation. The lack of oxygen really slows you down and can cause some serious issues like brain swelling, coughing up blood and tons of other things.
How did you prepare for this climb? And how many people are there with you as you make your way up? I trained about three hours a day for eight months or so for this one. Lots of walking with a heavy pack, running bleachers, interval training and weight training. We started with 14 climbers and two guides. We now have nine climbers who will attempt the summit.
How long will the climb take? We arrived at Katmandu on March 21, and the ETA on our return is June 6.
What does your family think? My family has always been supportive on me and my goals. That’s the reason I’m able to do these things. It really helps being away from home for a long stretch like this knowing that my family has my back at home. The community has also really gotten behind me and supported me, as well.
How did you get involved with Fisher House? I mean, what drew you to them? My entire family is prior military, including myself, so I’ve always had a spot close to my heart for programs that support vets. I was invited to see our new Arizona Fisher House a few years ago and was blown away. Since then, I’ve been affiliated with them and have tried to get them as much funding as I can. We did a similar “Penny Per Foot” program when I climbed Denali. That one was 20,000 feet, and we were able to put together just over $30,000 for them.
Why is it important to support veterans and military families? Without the vets, I wouldn’t be able to do anything that I’m able to do today. They sacrificed and paid their dues for us. Now, it’s time we take care of them. I grew up as a military brat, so I saw firsthand what it means to keep families close when a veteran is in a time of need. That’s what the Fisher House does, and that’s why I support them.
Click here to donate to Chris Cobb’s “A Penny Per Foot” Mount Everest climb for Fisher House.