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  Mt. Everest 2004: Climbing to New Heights

Climbing to New Heights:

Climber with High Blood Pressure, Ryan Bendixen,

on Quest to Summit Mount Everest

Sponsored by Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation, makers of Diovan®

Ryan Bendixen began his journey to the top of Mount Everest via the North Col on April 4th.  He is the first known person with high blood pressure to attempt to summit.  The climb is sponsored by Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corp., makers of Diovan®, the medication that Ryan takes to successfully manage his high blood pressure.  Ryan will be the first person ever to be tracking his blood pressure throughout his climb.  The effects of altitude on patients with high blood pressure have not previously been studied.  This will contribute to the  understanding of altitude and blood pressure.

Weekly Progress: Zhangmu

Blood Pressure Readings: “Learn more about normal blood pressure”)

Dispatch 6/02/2004:

Final Dispatch:   My first trip to Everest was tremendous.   I can tell you that Everest to me is one big ass emotional trip. Everything about Everest is large. The money, the planning, the time commitment, the goodbyes the amount of gear, and oh ya, the mountain.

When I left home in late March, two days before my daughter’s first birthday, (not good karma with the moms in the family),  I told everyone that was worried about me that I would be safe on this trip.  A funeral (especially my own) was not on my agenda.  Something about climbing Everest makes everyone you know think that you’re going to pack it in on this one.  I reiterated to my family and friends that this trip would end no different than any of the many trips before… I would make it home safe and wrap things up at home with the dreary job of unpacking a bunch of stinky gear bags on the lawn (be free bed bugs and lice!)  

Date Ryan's Blood Pressure
4/12 114/72
4/19 137/86
4/26 124/82
5/3 117/78
5/10 114/73

 My corporate sponsor Novartis and Diovan was also very concerned for my safety.  They never pressured me or questioned any of my decisions.  I will be forever grateful for their generosity and ongoing support.  Simply put, a guy like me with high blood pressure would never have the opportunity to follow a dream such as Everest without help from a company like Novartis.

First my assessment of the North side of Everest… and then I will get on with some proud excuses for not summiting.

1.Watching the jet stream change an entire mountain from blanketed white snow to a giant black rock in a period of hours does not inspire thoughts of “Directisma on the North Face” (crazy Russians, good job and congrats on the new route!) The standard route when the wind is blowing like that in my book is also very unsettling.  2. Being sick on the Tibetan plateau because of its altitude/remoteness was seriously unnerving for me. 3. More likely than not you’re going to get sick.   Everyone seemed to be sick at one point or another 4. Everest is really exciting and emotionally draining.  I think it’s important to get lots of sleep, try to eat well and just chill out and enjoy the experience.  I really think this is key to help your body fight off all of the wild bugs/and germs you get exposed to. 5. Anyone that has ever summited the N. Ridge Route and made it down safely should be really proud because its one enormous accomplishment to get anywhere close.

I love eating food from third world street vendors as I really believe it’s a spice of life.  The joys of untreated tap water wine, mysterious concoctions fermenting in a barrel behind a Sherpas house and knowing that any day is a great opportunity to claim its your birthday make traveling to countries like China and Nepal fun.  I have the intestinal constitution of a junkyard dog.  However, I promised myself on this trip there would be none of that. Everest is too big with too much time any money invested to risk getting sick… so I brought 100 pounds of food and drank nothing but bottled water when available.   I even bought an expensive water filtering pump and water purifying tablets when I just wanted to be sure.  The short of it is I have never been so intestinally screwed up on any trip in my life.  What the bugs in my stomach didn’t destroy the six cycles of various antibiotics/drugs took out of my spirit.  I felt like crap for over a month, I was weak and climbing like a drunken sailor.  Simply put, I was not in any condition to be climbing, let alone to the top of the world.  The only thing that was predictably good was my blood pressure.

The night I left home for this adventure, I put my hand in my baby daughter’s hair while she was sleeping and I told her that I would be strong and come back home for her.  I ended up making what turned out to be a surprisingly simple and unemotional decision to bail on Everest.  To all of the great friends I made on this adventure if your coming Colorado way drop me a note. To my friends at Diovan and Novartis, thank you for your support.  Cheers, Ryan

Dispatch Index

Ryan Bendixen’s Mt. Everest climb is being sponsored by Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation, makers of Diovan® (valsartan).

Diovan should be discontinued as soon as pregnancy is detected because it may cause death or injury to the unborn child. Diovan is contraindicated in patients who are hypersensitive to the components of the product. The most common side effects with Diovan in hypertensive patients were headache and dizziness.  Diovan is indicated for the treatment of hypertension. Diovan is not approved to prevent or treat stroke, kidney damage, eye damage or heart attack. 

For more information or full prescribing information for Diovan go to “Prescribing Info/Quick Download” at www.pharma.us.novartis.com.


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