Impact President Stephen Odom as he attempted the 29029 Utah hike.

The 29029 Everest Challenge

At Impact, we’re all about taking things to the limit and pushing beyond that limit. When we set a goal, we crush it, and every day we push ourselves to be better and achieve more than the day before. That’s why when entrepreneur Jesse Itzler posed us a challenge in January 2019, we stepped up to the plate in a big way.

Among his other entrepreneurial, athletic, and literary pursuits, Itzler is the creator of an endurance challenge called 29029. The climbing event challenges participants to hike the equivalent of Mt. Everest in a single weekend, totaling 29,029 vertical feet. In 2019, there were two events: one in Snowbasin, UT in August and one in Stratton, VT in October.

Over 50 people from the Impact network took on this challenge, including advisors, Impact employees, and even a few spouses. They chose their event and began a rigorous training regime to help them prepare for the climb of a lifetime.

At the Utah climb, hikers had to contend with late summer heat as they made 13 laps up the mountain. As they completed each lap, they burned the 29029 logo into a wooden board to symbolize how far they had come so far on their journey. The sight and smell of the smoke was a powerful stimulant as they made their decision to go back up the mountain or return to the creature comforts of camp.

The landscape, weather, and obstacles could not have been more different in Vermont: In addition to the 17 laps up Stratton Mountain, hikers were faced with freezing temperatures, snow, and even a local bear!

In each event, the hikes were only half the battle. At the top of the mountain, they would take a gondola back to the starting point, where they had a choice to make: Take another lap and be one step closer to the goal, or return to the luxury campsite where the temptations of food, entertainment, and massage therapists waited. For some participants, this choice was almost as difficult as the climb itself.

The 29029 Everest Challenge is about more than mountain climbing. Hikers aren’t competing against the mountain – they’re competing against themselves, pushing themselves to keep going even when they want to give up. 29029 is a physical endurance challenge, yes, but it’s also a mental and emotional one.

Whether they finished or not, the challenge participants were forever changed by their experiences on the mountain. Those who earned their red bibs learned the power of determination and perseverance, even in the face of what seems to be certain failure. Those who attempted their goal and came close learned never to underestimate themselves or the challenges they may face.

To read more about the Impact family’s 29029 experiences, check out our exposure gallery.

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