Interview With Jeffrey Gottfurcht, Mountain Climber Extraordinaire
Posted on Feb 28th, 2011 by Corporate Communications
Nutra Pharma recently sponsored Jeffrey Gottfurcht, founder of the Jeffrey Gottfurcht Children’s Arthritis Foundation (JGCAF), in his attempt to be the first person in the world with Rheumatoid Arthritis to scale Mount Everest. Jeff talked to us about his upcoming climb, living with Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) and how he has been managing his pain with Nyloxin.
How and when did you get interested in mountain climbing, and what made you decide in particular to climb Mount Everest?
Growing up, I was an avid runner. But after a while I found running to be a bit boring. I realized that if I climbed mountains, the ever-changing scenery and greater physical challenge would be more exciting. I’ve actually been somewhat obsessed with Mount Everest in particular, ever since I was a child. I started at a young age with simple climbs. The first date I ever had with my wife, Emily was at the Imax Theater in 1997, where we watched the movie Everest. I was completely captivated and motivated by the film. And here I am today – ready to go.
So have you had a lot of mountain climbing experience in preparation for Everest?
Yes. I’ve done a number of mountain climbs and rock climbs in preparation; some were before my diagnosis. It’s all a matter of honing skills and getting comfortable in adverse conditions one encounters on those big mountains. A person who wants to climb must obviously start small and then progress to larger climbs, in order to condition properly. What stops most want-to-be-climbers are a combination of physical pain and an inability to get acclimated to the altitude.
What are you doing now to prepare for your Mount Everest climb?
I train constantly – five days week. I switch off between hiking for 12 miles with 50 lbs on my back and running at different speeds. Interval training is the best way to get fit and keep your heart rate high. Every day I also practice yoga and meditation for 30 minutes. It helps me control my thoughts. In addition to being fit, success for a climb like this depends a great deal upon a person’s mental state. You must have the mindset to endure the physical pain and suffering you will encounter and also be able to handle, emotionally, the time away from your family.
Do you train alone?
Yes. One of the reasons is that others can’t really keep up with me! (Laughing) I enjoy training alone, but I love the personal challenge of seeing others running or hiking ahead of me. It motivates me to work harder and pass them up – knowing I have RA and can move faster than someone who doesn’t have it.
Given the fact that it is very challenging for a healthy person to climb Mount Everest, naturally it would be so much more difficult for a person with a chronic illness such as RA. How do your family and friends feel about you taking on this great challenge?
Everyone in my life is supportive. Not one person I know has tried to talk me out of this climb. My goal is to be the first person with Rheumatoid Arthritis to climb Mount Everest. Those who know me understand that I am doing this to bring awareness to my foundation, the Jeffrey Gottfurcht Children’s Arthritis Foundation (JGCAF), where we grant wishes for children with Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis. My wife is happy about my mission and prideful of my efforts. She is comfortable with my skills capacity and the lengths I have gone to prepare. If she were not supportive, I would not do this; we have three kids at home.
Can you explain to us what a sherpa is and the role a sherpa will play in your climb?
Sherpas are the native people to Nepal and the Himalayas. It is similar to the Inuits being native to Alaska. Climbing sherpas are those with special mountain climbing expertise, and they are a very essential part of the expedition. They are very well organized and each has a specific job. Many stay at Base Camp and cook and do other tasks to help climbers. One may carry food, oxygen or ladders or climb ahead to set up tents. At any given time there can be hundreds of climbers trying to scale the mountain. You simply cannot imagine how much food, water and equipment it takes to climb mountains. I am doing the climb with one specific sherpa by my side at all times.
So I imagine you must pay a fee for these services?
Climbers must pay Nepal a permit fee to climb Mount Everest. You also pay the outfit of sherpas who are providing you with these invaluable serves. Climbing Mount Everest is a very costly endeavor.
I’ve always wondered how climbers can carry the amount of food and water necessary to make the climb.
The oxygen tanks alone weigh 30 lbs. Plus we have liters of heavy water, sun block and other supplies. The weight really adds up! That’s where the sherpas come in. Climbers start at Base Camp, where the Sherpas are cooking. Then they climb to Camp 2 and back the Base Camp, Camp 3 and back to Base Camp and so on. Sherpas also climb ahead to put our tents up. This way you don’t have to carry as much.
When do you use the oxygen?
We start using oxygen at 25,000 feet, about 4,000 feet from the top. Each climber will go through about 3 tanks during the climb.
What do you do with your garbage during the climb?
Sherpas take the garbage down and get paid by the weight for turning it in. Years ago the mountain was littered with trash, but thankfully it is not like that any longer.
I understand you are traveling with a satellite system so you can blog about your experience along the way. How does that work?
It is actually a satellite phone. We use solar panels to charge it. I can even call home and speak to my wife and kids from the mountain! There is also an internet connection so I can make Facebook updates, and my supporters can follow my progress. It will work great up to Camp 3, though there may be some down spots after that. It really is amazing that I will be able to communicate with the world from way up there.
Due to your Rheumatoid Arthritis, are there any special accommodations you need for the climb that other climbers might not need?
No, I would never want to be that person, so I refuse to receive any special treatment. Despite the fact that this disease is destroying my joints, and causing me pain, I look at it as a stepping-stone rather than stumbling block.
How long do you expect it will take you to reach the summit?
It takes around 2 months. I will start the climb on March 28 and return any time from mid to late May. But a person does not just arrive at the foot of Mount Everest and start the climb. First you must trek some 40 miles from Nepal’s capital of Kathmandu, which requires a 10,000 foot elevation change; it takes about 2 weeks. That will put me at Base Camp, which is at 17,500 feet, around April 10.
What will the weather be like on the mountain during your climb?
It will be dry and cold. On warmer days I can expect temperatures in the 20s and 30s. On the coldest days, it can be below zero. We wear down suits with 3 layers underneath them and big boots with spikes.
Why don’t you climb Mount Everest during the warmer summer months?
Due to the wind of the monsoon season, it would make it impossible. They could reach up to 100 MPH and literally knock you over. The winds are the lowest from late March through May. But there will definitely be some snow.
Is it true that the descent from any mountain is much tougher than the ascent’?
The reason people have trouble with the descent is twofold. First, their adrenaline from the climb has died down. Second, gravity is pulling them down. But with proper training and caution it can be done safely. Obviously the descent is much faster than the climb.
Is there a way to be rescued in an emergency when climbing Mount Everest?
It depends on where you are on the mountain. Helicopters can rescue climbers only up to 17,000 feet. If there is an emergency at higher levels, that would require other climbers or sherpas to rescue you. Naturally, the higher you are, the harder it is to be rescued, as there are less people. The Himalayan Rescue Association has a field hospital nearby.
Is there only one route up the mountain?
There are different routes on different sides on the mountain, each with their own base camps.
You have been taking Nyloxin now for some time. Has it helped you manage your pain from RA?
I have been using it in gel form and it helps considerably with my pain. It has actually enabled me to stop using Advil, which is a very good thing. I started to use Nyloxin in mid summer and am so grateful for the benefits. Nyloxin has already proven to truly be a remarkable part of my mountain climbing mission, and I can’t imagine climbing Everest without it. Right now it is the only drug I am taking.
What are the most common ways to treat the pain for those suffering from RA?
Steroids are common, and we all know about the side effects associated with them. Methotrexate is a serious drug used to treat extreme cases of Rheumatoid Arthritis, but the problem is that there are many serious side effects. My doctors gave me Methotrexate when I was first diagnosed at age 28, but the side effects for me were debilitating. Also, you can’t be on those drugs if you want to have children; my wife and I now have 3 kids. I want to avoid taking anything that will get in the way of my active life. Infusion and injection drugs are now also a major component of the RA therapy. These drugs attempt to alter the parts of auto-immune system and halt the disease. I used an infusion drug, but the side-effects were not favorable for me.
How would you describe the symptoms of RA?
RA is an autoimmune disease, which means that your immune system is out of whack and it essentially attacks your body. It comes on suddenly rather than gradually and is marked by severe joint pain, terribly swollen joints and general sickness due to a suppressed and weakened immune system. I like to describe it as an old rusty door that won’t open or close. In extreme cases, RA sufferers may have deformed wrists, hands or feet and can be wheelchair bound. Sadly, many sufferers have to have joint replacements after the RA has caused its destruction. But you can’t always tell when a person has this disease just by looking at them. It took doctors 9 months to finally diagnose me properly. For me, I suffer mostly from swollen and painful knees, hips, back and wrists. RA is a painful life-changing, life-long disease.
On your website I learned that 300,000 children in the US have Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis. Is this an illness that runs in families?
No one really knows for sure: research has been inconclusive. There are instances where a parent and child both have the disease but there’s no concrete evidence to prove it is genetic. No one else in my family has it.
Are there any other known causes or cures?
There are no known causes and no known cures. Right now, there are only strong medications that can slow down the disease. I truly hope this changes in my lifetime and there is a cure. I explain to people that this dreadful disease is not caused by anything a person does, such as sports. Even if I sat on the couch and did not move, rather than hike, run and climb, I’d still have RA.
When did you start your non-profit organization Jeffrey Gottfurcht Children’s Arthritis Foundation (JGCAF)?
We established the organization about a year and half ago.
How many wishes has your organization granted?
Since the onset, we’ve granted 10 wishes. We even got Miley Cyrus to spend the day with one of the children. We currently have 200 applications, and we are constantly striving to seek funds to meet the demands to grant as many wishes as we can. Click here to read about the dreams that have been granted.
How can our readers help?
The best way to help is by donating – even if it is just $5. Also spreading the word about this debilitating disease can really make a difference.
What advice do you have for others who are living with chronic pain but wish to do extraordinary things like you are doing?
There are no borders, no limits and no frontier. Just keep moving, and do exactly what you set out to do.
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Yes. I’m so grateful for my relationship with Nutra Pharma and the health benefits I’ve experienced from taking Nyloxin. I hope to continue partnering with Nutra Pharma to help spread the word about Rheumatoid Arthritis and chronic pain management. Nutra Pharma has really made it possible for me to begin my climb up Mount Everest.
Jeff, thank you so much for educating us about Rheumatoid Arthritis and sharing your story with us. You are truly an inspiration. We will all be rooting for you on your climb of Mount Everest and following your progress on Facebook and Twitter. We look forward to talking to you when you get back. Best of luck!
This article contains forward-looking statements. The words or phrases "would be," "will allow," "intends to," "will likely result," "are expected to," "will continue," "is anticipated," "estimate," "project," or similar expressions are intended to identify "forward-looking statements." Actual results could differ materially from those projected in Nutra Pharma's ("the Company") business plan. The Company's business is subject to various risks, which are discussed in the Company's filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission ("SEC"). The above article, " Interview With Jeffrey Gottfurcht, Mountain Climber Extraordinaire", should not be construed as an indication in any way whatsoever of: (a) the Company’s financial value; and/or (b) any predictive value of the Company’s future stock price. The Company's filings may be accessed at the SEC's Edgar system at www.sec.gov. Statements made herein are as of the date of this press release and should not be relied upon as of any subsequent date. The Company cautions readers not to place reliance on such statements. Unless otherwise required by applicable law, we do not undertake, and we specifically disclaim any obligation, to update any forward-looking statements to reflect occurrences, developments, unanticipated events or circumstances after the date of such statement.
Leave a Comment