169: Andrew Hughes has been chasing mountains around the world in his attempt to climb the Seven Summits. Despite being pushed back on a few of his climbs, he continues to show his resiliency by coming back, not giving up and staying the course

September 18, 2020

Andrew Hughes

What was the whole idea behind the 5683 steps personal training challenge that Andrew Hughes did after the pandemic? “Like you, we were both supposed to be in Nepal this last season climbing, and when that all of a sudden changed because the world changed around us, it became, I think, important to find a way to still kind of pursue some kind of training, and a lot of training is limited based upon the state. I’m a homeowner in Washington, and the ability to stay within my little neighborhood, I explored every little park I could do by walking around with a weighted pack on. At a certain point in time I realised I needed something more to train to.”

On this episode of Finding Your Summit Podcast, we talk with Andrew Hughes, Mountain Climber, Explorer, Writer, and Speaker. Like Mark Pattison, Andrew Hughes was also all set to travel to Mount Everest until the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted the world. Andrew talks about the adversity that he overcame. “I studied, going to law school and getting multiple degrees from good institutions in London and Seattle. I practiced law. I ran for Congress. I got married. I thought I had, kind of the perfect ensemble of things you are supposed to have to be content and to be satisfied, it just wasn’t there. There was something missing, and when those things started crumbling even further around me, I realised I had built a foundation of my happiness on the wrong things.”

What You Will Learn:

What was the life-changing situation that pushed Andrew out of his old life and towards his new one? “Towards the tail end of my marriage falling apart and all my political things kind of falling apart as well, I climbed a mountain, and there was something about living in that discomfort and that growth that came from it that just drew me back to wanting to do more and more of it. It was this movement through meditation, this healing. It was almost this sermon, you want to be told over and over again, and the more you went back to it, the more you learned. When things actually fell apart I made a choice to restructure my life, find ways to create enough income where I could do the things that were meaningful to me, but maybe didn’t reconcile externally with what people saw as success.”

How do the mountains factor into Andrew Hughes’ life?  “We always look at maybe a marriage, or a promotion, or a career, or a job as the peak of where we want to go to, and we forget that the mountain is involving much more than that. So, you flatten the mountain, and then you just see actually how far the journey is, and it always goes beyond the summit. There is always going to be future summits we have to reach for, and so, maintaining enough energy and perspective of where we really want to get to, and not just the summit is most important.”

When did climbing become the missing link that reconnected Andrew Hughes with his goals and desires for fulfillment? “I ran for U.S. Congress in 2012, and climbed, and lost. I came third out of seven in my field, and about a year later my marriage started falling apart at the time, and I climbed Rainier in 2014 and I was so excited about it. I came back down and signed up for a six-day course at the north Cascades with Alpine Ascends, and I got back from that, and my ex-wife at the time was moving out of the house. So, it was a very clear delineation between my path towards the outdoors and my path in that relationship.”

What talks about happened when he got high-altitude pulmonary edema. “High-Altitude Pulmonary Edema is one of the two things you really don’t want to get. Altitude Cerebral Edema and pulmonary edema. Essentially, pulmonary edema is your lungs begin to fill with fluid and you begin to drown to death on the mountain. Your oxigen can’t go through and reach the rest of your body as your lungs fill up. I was helicoptered off. I was staying by myself at the base of the mountain. I kind of had to reassess over the next few weeks whether this was something I was even able to do.”

What are some of the exciting elevated heights that mountain climbing has taken Andrew Hughes to? “I just got back from Antartica where I did three different expeditions tied together. I did several in January. I’ve been able to climb six of the seven highest volcanoes in the world and the highest mountains, to hopefully finishing that off in the next year.”

Antarctica Trifecta

Andrew Hughes talks about climbing astonishing summits in Antarctica. “We flew in. We were a little bit delayed. It was after the Chilean Airforce aircraft had crashed. So they actually grounded all flights in. We were first trying to get in and then we eventually got in and we hit the ground running once we did. We flew out. Luckily, we were one of the only places to get out to the 89th degree with all of our skis and sleds and small expedition team. They dropped us off at the 89th degree and there is absolutely nothing around you, and you’ve got your compass and your sled and your teammates, and you just start heading towards what you hope is the South Pole, and we got there within about six days.”

The Everest and Lhotse

During this episode of Finding Your Summit Podcast, Andrew Hughes also expresses his initial plans to take on climbing both Everest and Lhotse before COVID-19 put those plans on pause. “I was actually on Everest last year with Adventure Consultants and was on our summit push coming out of Camp 2, and had this horrific cough all of a sudden come up that turned out to be pneumonia. So I was evacked off. I was in my tent actually the night my team was summiting and I could hear them on the walkie-talkies stuck in Camp 2. I walked away from it and realised that I definitely wanted to come back.”

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