It’s not what you think. Those words echoed in my mind as I participated in one of the most grueling endurance events. The weather was unforgiving, the challenge mentally and physically demanding, but it was an experience that became so much more.

29029 Everesting is not your average event; it’s a category of its own, designed to empower ordinary individuals to achieve the extraordinary. The event takes place on a ski mountain, and participants have 36 hours to climb the height of Mt. Everest. You climb up, gondola down, and repeat until you reach 29,029 feet, the height of Mount Everest. It isn’t a competition but a personal test against the mountain. And let me tell you, it’s not what you think.

29029 isn’t only about conquering the mountain. It’s about uncovering your grit, determination, and resilience. But more than that, it’s about the people. One of the most unique aspects of 29029 is the community.

The 29029 Everesting event held on Stratton Mountain last weekend was brutal. This was a challenging climb in normal conditions – this was my third 29029, so I have some context. But Mother Nature added her own twist. The rain was relentless, and the mud presented an unforgiving challenge. Several hours into the event, the terrain changed from a wet marsh into a steady mud flow. Almost every single ascent, I questioned if I had what it took to finish. It got to the point where I just had to accept that the mountain would break me over and over again. But this time around, it was the people who made the difference.

After each ascent, I would take the 15-minute gondola ride down to the base and head to the Ascent board, where I would mark or symbolize how far I had climbed. And there, every time, was Patty, a night shift volunteer. She always found me and offered words of encouragement, like “You’re looking strong. You got this.” It sounds simple, but she believed in me when I didn’t.

Staying fueled and hydrated was essential, but eating in wet and cold conditions was difficult. After about 20 hours of climbing, my body started to really feel the strain. Thankfully, the volunteers working the aid stations were amazing! One of them, Kim, who also worked the night shift, became a true rock for me. She saw right through my exhaustion and managed to whip up some concoctions I could actually eat. Her genuine care and unwavering confidence in me became a lifeline that kept me going.

The woman I’m hugging in the picture is my 72-year-old Aunt Sue. She said she wanted to check out the 29029 event and support me. I thought I’d see her at the base and get an occasional high-five (especially given the weather!). But Sue was all in. She was at the starting line, stayed up through the night, brought me coffee, and was right there at the finish line. She reminded me what it means to show up for others.

I had heard about “Type 2 fun” before – the kind that is miserable while it’s happening but rewarding afterward. But this event went beyond pushing physical boundaries; it tested my character, perseverance, and resilience. It showed me that growth is found in personal achievement and, even more importantly, the connections we create. This kind of community is truly remarkable. It’s not what you think, but I can’t wait to experience it again.

Check out last year’s 29029 lessons- Pivoting from the Lows.

Hug Sue
Stratton Board