Canadian veteran guides Medcan client to Aconcagua

One mountain, two huge accomplishments

Pictured: Rick Byers, Medcan client and board member of the True Patriot Love Foundation (TPL), at the summit of the highest mountain in the Western Hemisphere. Rick is back in Canada after the three-week expedition.  

At 6,962 meters, Argentina’s Aconcagua [ah-kawng-kah-gwah] is the highest peak outside of the Himalayas (imagine 12 stacked CN Towers, and then go a little higher). This past January, it was the site of two huge accomplishments. For Jeremy Blair, an Armed Forces veteran, it was another expedition he led as a guide, his new career after military service.

Jeremy Blair, Canadian Armed Forces Veteran and Expedition Guide Leader

For Rick Byers, it was the third mountain attempted of the world’s Seven Summits.

“It was a grueling climb … with the weather, the altitude, and the length of time on the mountain all adding to the challenge. I feel fortunate to have made it to the top, and climbing again with Jeremy again was tremendously rewarding,” said Rick. “It’s true what they say, the thrill of reaching the summit lasts forever.”

Rick has adventured with Jeremy before in Antarctica with TPL in 2016 (info on the True Patriot Love April 2018 Himalayan Expedition here).

“Jeremy served Canada with distinction and has lived with PTSD for having done so,” said Rick. “To help with his transition from the military to civilian life by supporting his guiding business meant a lot to me.”

Climbing Aconcagua: summit day

After two weeks of advancing, on January 21 the conditions were ideal to attempt the summit. At 5 a.m. the group of six pushed through the intense cold (approximately – 20’C). By early afternoon Jeremy accompanied three climbers who had to descend due to exhaustion . Rick and the local guide from Mendoza reached the summit at 4:30 p.m.

“Part of the challenge of these expeditions is the fitness level, which is essential and a non-negotiable for the six or eight hour climbs up the 45 degree slope,” explains Rick.

At 6,962 meters, Argentina’s Aconcagua [ah-kawng-kah-gwah] is the highest peak outside of the Himalayas.

“Not to be dismissed, however, is the unglamorous reality of living and existing in an extreme environment with not so comfortable food, water and sleeping arrangements. Then there is the other factor affecting one’s performance in these expeditions: altitude and how your body reacts in this type of environment. While the guides are acclimatized; it’s much different for visitors. Definitely something to consider when training and preparing for any mountain expedition.”

Keeping fit is in the family: Rick’s son Adrian is a Fitness Tester at Medcan #LiveWell 

Jeremy leading the trek, January 2018

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