At the time of publication, Chase Hinckley is embarking on a climb of K2, the second highest mountain in the world, as an act of solidarity with the COPD community this summer. Chase, 34, lives in Colorado and has a penchant for adventure. In 2015, he left behind the security of his engineering job to travel the world and climb it’s biggest mountains. To date, Chase has climbed mountains such as Denali, Rainier, and Kilimanjaro.
K2 – known as the “savage mountain” – is located on the China-Pakistan border and has an elevation of 28,251 feet. It is a notoriously difficult climb with extreme altitudes, lack of oxygen, and extreme storms. To date, only 306 people have stood on K2’s summit, compared to the more than 5,600 people who have reached the top of Mt. Everest.
Chase recognizes that climbing K2 will be a challenge, and he equates this struggle with the daily life of a COPD patient.
Chase is talking about COPD because for him, it’s personal.
“The women in my family have been plagued with the burden that is COPD. My aunt has only 40% lung function remaining. It leaves me awestruck how quietly she battles this illness. The struggle can be isolating and I want everyone to know that they don’t have to hide symptoms or compound the experience with guilt.”
He continued, “I am fortunate to have the opportunity to travel without a nebulizer and the freedom to push my own limits with regards to altitude. I believe that those with and those without COPD can work together to realize our full potential.”
As a mountaineer, Chase understands how it feels to struggle for air, which gives him a unique perspective as someone who is not a COPD patient. Chase decided to make his climb an opportunity to fundraise for COPD. He even created a webpage where you can follow his progress: http://copdf.co/K2Climb.
Chase anticipates it will take several weeks, as many as 52 days, to summit the mountain. He is prepared to take the incredible challenge as he describes climbing to be “in his blood.”
“My grandfather’s last name was Steiger. Steiger is the conjugated verb for the German word Steigen, which means to climb.”
Chase, who has been in a mountain club and is involved in the tight knit community of climbers, chose K2 because he considers it a uniquely American mountain.
“The British have their Everest, the French have Annapurna. K2 is a uniquely American mountain due to the early explorations of heroes such as Pete Schoening, Charlie Houston, and Fritz Wiessner. The history is remarkable.”
And how does Chase stay motivated with such as large challenge ahead?
“That first step is not a quest for glory. It’s simply a desire to meld with nature and gain a new perspective. These days when I’m feeling exhausted and breathless I know that I’m nowhere near my limit. There is value in knowing your limits and I encourage everyone to find them, because most are capable of so much more than they think.”
Log on to Chase’s page here: http://copdf.co/K2Climb. You can make a donation in his honor and leave him words of encouragement.