And now for something completely different. You might recall that back in May, we celebrated the 10th anniversary of my Everest climb. To commemorate this life-changing event, my Everest team reassembled to lead a mini-expedition up one of Colorado’s 14ers, Quandary Peak. Together we took over 50 people, including disabled soldiers, to the summit of a beautiful mountain. In the process, we also raised over $10,000 for No Barriers and Soldiers To The Summit!
The Denver Post printed a great article about our climb. And here is a fantastic video put together by my friends at Serac Adventure Films:
Were you inspired this summer by Team No Limits and Team Modern Gypsies? Would you like a lasting memory of our epic adventure? Would you like to help out two great non-profit organizations?
If you answered “Yes” to these questions, then you should check out our eBay auctions! The producers of Expedition Impossible have kindly contributed some great objects from the show, including the lock box that was the final challenge for the Gypsy win. In addition, both No Limits and Gypsies have contributed some personal mementos from the show; for example, the trekking poles I used and Jeff’s orange scarf are up for auction. And a number of other great items including four copies of my autobiography that are signed by all six members of the top two teams.
All proceeds from these auctions go to our charities, No Barriers USA and Free The Children. These are all authentic and, dare I say it, rare items that will continue to inspire. So bid now and bid often!
I couldn’t believe it! What the heck just happened?! There was no way we were going to beat the Cops. Despite Ike hobbling as fast as he could, they had passed us on a brutal cross country push and had a 15 minute lead. Yet…somehow…we did it!
But lets go back to the beginning. Only the day before, we had had the unlikeliest of wins over the California Girls. We woke up the next morning, partly in disbelief that we were still in the competition yet still facing the reality that a team with a blind guy and a badly sprained ankle didn’t have much chance.
This last episode was another two-days-compressed-into-one episode. The first day featured very technical whitewater—we had to hit the rapids just right or we’d risk a flip—so we were glad to have a guide to steer the boat. The rapids were fun, but I was yelling “Stroke!” every second, and in hour three, I lost my voice and was barely croaking. We were paddling so hard, it was a little difficult to get the full enjoyment factor of this amazing whitewater.
For the riddle challenge, we were stumped for about fifteen minutes. (“Sometimes you pass by them and sometimes you go inside of them, but lately you’ve been spending a lot of time in between them.” The answer was “banks.”) Anyway, our Gypsy pals helped us out with a vital clue. As they ran by, Taylor said, “Where do you keep your money?”
And the Fab 3 straight up gave the answer to the Football Players. I didn’t realize at the time that this annoying “alliance” was forming at the instigation of Fab 3. I suppose some people could accuse No Limits and Gypsies of doing the same thing. But ours was truly a natural friendship that grew between like minds. None of us were conniving to steal the win; we just helped out friends when we could.
In fact, we had such a good bond, the Gypsies jumped at the chance to come to Boulder for the last show. Hopefully Taylor will do his Jeff Evans impression! After the finale, we’re going to go hike and climb and have some more fun together. So we really weren’t making backroom deals. It was just two teams who respected each other and shared a spirit for adventure and good work.
I must admit I was a little bummed out by the Football Players for falling into Fab 3’s game of making Survivor-like alliances. The Football Players are such good guys but they let themselves get talked into taking the low road. We really liked them—along with the other teams: Cops, Firemen, Cali Girls, Fisherman, and Country Boys—and worked together with each of these teams at different points of the comp.
Anyway, after the lock challenge, where we collected food for camp (freeze-dried, blech), the river mellowed out but went through a spectacular gorge. Jeff was steering but he’s more of a mountain dude and we went in circles a little bit. Still, we held our ground.
The next day we rowed across the lake in the tin boats. No time bonuses, everyone starts with the time they finished. With a motor like Ike on the oars, we probably could have waterskied across the lake. Then we hit the shore….
Suffice to say, it was ugly. The rugged, rocky terrain was brutal for Ike. We were passed, and passed again until we were dead last when finishing the rappels. That meant we had a long wait to get through the cave tunnels since only one person could crawl at a time and there’s no way to pass.
Once we all got inside the cave, it was a frantic free-for-all looking for the darned appropriate vase—not that I could help much. Next time, let’s do a pitch black cave and we’ll see how all the sighted people do! When Jeff finally found our instructions, we were on our way. As you saw, Rob from the cops grabbed a correct vase, but it didn’t have a finish line map inside it. I think this was because another team had already plucked out the map.
After swimming the river, once again, we were preparing ourselves mentally for finishing last. And then we came around the corner and there were the Cops running the wrong way! Suddenly it dawned on the three of us that we gotta run, we gotta run hard! I ran through a nasty bush and blood was flying all over the place. I didn’t even care. Ike was hopping along behind us like Forrest Gump.
Then I heard Jeff fall down. And then he popped up and was bouncing around running circles and howling and laughing! I didn’t realize what had happened at first but then it clicked that we had actually crossed the finish line…and beat the Cops! People told me I looked a little stunned, which was definitely the case.
So now, defying all odds, we’re in the finals. We actually got a rest day before the last wild and crazy stage. This gave Ike the chance to cut off that awful clunky cast, rest up, and evaluate his ankle. And then we go at it again, with more devious twists and turns to the plot. I will say that on the last day, one team gets eliminated halfway through so only three teams will be competing for the pot of gold. Will you be watching?
Jeff’s blog: http://mountain-vision.blogspot.com/
Gypsies’ blog: http://www.themoderngypsies.com/blog/
The Boulder Daily Camera recently ran an article about our team and the upcoming party at the Lazy Dog. Only one comment but at least it was a positive one.
So now it can be told…the Gypsies are coming to Boulder! Not only that but also the host of Expedition Impossible, David Salmoni, and the Executive Producer, Lisa Hennessy, too. It’s going to be an exciting night at the Lazy Dog! And we will raise money for No Barriers (my charity) and Free The Children (Gypsies charity).
But here’s the thing, the Lazy Dog only holds 500 people. So get your tickets now! If you can’t make it, please consider making a donation via the same link. We are hoping to raise at least $10,000 for these great causes as we celebrate the end of an incredible adventure.
Thanks for your support!
Erik, Jeff, and Ike
Here is a great video put together by one of the teams in this year’s race. It’s nice to see a different perspective on this unique adventure race! Thanks to Topher Downham and Team Atlas Adventure.
Join Team No Limits to watch the final episode of Expedition Impossible and help support No Barriers! Jeff, Ike, and I are hosting a party at the Lazy Dog Lounge in Boulder, Colorado on Thursday, August 25th. The $20 cover ($10 for kids) will go to charity. We will have entertainment before the show, tales of adventure, and a live auction of memorabilia from the show. Plus special guests!
Please help spread the word about this fun event. The Lazy Dog is a kid-friendly sports grill on the Pearl Street Mall. We have reserved the entire restaurant, which holds about 400 people, from about 7 to 9 pm. More details coming. Mark your calendars now!
Before I fill you in on some of the backstory from last week’s episode, I’d like to share a few comments that mean so much to Jeff, Ike, and me. The three of us suffered a lot over this month-long adventure. But sentiments like these make all that pain and discomfort worth it!
I have never experienced so much excitement watching a reality show as when I watch you guys come together and succeed where so many would give up! Each of you shows so much strength and commitment to each other and your bravery is just friggin’ incredible. Thank you for being an inspiration to me and my son and the rest of the world.
You are the kinds of people who I like to know are in the world: sincere, full of adventure and determination. And this week’s episode underlined it even more. Seriously, as if it wasn’t enough watching Erik jump off a 40-foot cliff because Jeff told him he’d *probably* survive. Watching both of you be such good sports and positive people while Ike reaches deep for even more courage—to work through the pain—is simply amazing. Determination, courage, loyalty—you name it, you show it. Thank you.
No Limits started as the team “with the blind guy” – that is how you were defined by others…not yourselves. Then all of a sudden, you were no longer the team with the blind guy, but the team with the guy with the busted ankle. But really what you are in the team that works as team—with heart, with dignity, with strength, and with a sense of humor. I watch the show on the edge of my seat each week, and will continue to do so. Routing for No Limits…not because you are the “underdog” team or the “disabled” team, but because you are the team that has taught me to overcome my own challenges, and not to be defined by others.
My five-year-old son loves you guys! He almost started crying tonight when it looked like you wouldn’t be able to make it to the finish. Then when he saw that you might have a chance he was on his feet jumping up and down and cheering you on!
After the show we had a chance to talk about being brave and not giving up. He said he was going to be brave even if he got hurt, just like Ike. So I asked him what if he lost his sight or another one of his senses. He said he’d be brave, just like Erik. So, I pushed it and asked him what if his friend was injured or lost his sight. He said he would help him, just like Jeff!
We all know most reality TV is absolute garbage. And I know it will sound weird but the way you guys pushed yourselves and never gave up really allowed my son and I to talk about real, important life lessons. He really looks up to you all, so I just wanted to say thanks!
When we signed up for this big, crazy adventure, we had little idea what we were getting ourselves into. And once underway, we had no idea what an impact it would have upon others. Even once it started airing, we didn’t fully realize how powerfully it would affect others.
One of the things that makes me proud about being involved with Expedition Impossible is the message it sends. I won’t let my kids watch other reality shows because I don’t want them thinking the way to get to the top is by backstabbing. The cool thing about this show is it’s a bunch of teams competing as hard as they can, trying to do their best. And once you get to camp, nearly everyone is a buddy; talking and laughing, sharing cramped goat herder tents, fighting windstorms together.
For the most part, everyone was into the spirit of a traditional adventure race. Only one team was trying to do some of the “alliance” silliness, the rest were content to compete on their own merits. In the end, good teamwork is what defines success.
This last episode was clearly a defining moment for Team No Limits. Even in our bleakest moments, we never fell apart. After that swim, all of the other teams passed us and were so far ahead that Jeff couldn’t even see them on the horizon. Ike was feeling truly miserable for letting us down. But instead of turning on each other and imploding, like some other teams, we stuck together and accepted our fate.
There was no way we were quitting but we were forced to slow down for the first time. After three weeks of frenetically racing around Morocco, this was the first time that I really appreciated the amazing landscape around us: the massive openness, pastures with grazing sheep, spectacular mountains and canyons.
That calmness, combined with us not freaking out with each other, allowed us to keep plugging away. We all knew there was a remote possibility that another team might run into a problem with the next challenge. But we were so far off the back that it seemed unlikely. I even suggested stopping at a creek to go swimming but Jeff wanted to keep pushing hard.
And then we caught sight of the Cali Girls! In an instant, the adrenaline kicked in and we all charged hard…Ike hopped as fast as he could go. Jeff showed total leadership, telling each of us what to do and quickly solving the puzzle. He remembered the Bolder Boulder 10k running race is 6.2 miles and in no time figured we had traveled 310 miles.
We were giggling like little kids as we realized we were going to beat the Cali Girls. It was so improbable that we had overcome a 90-minute deficit and ended up 5 minutes ahead at the end! As we came up the hill to the finish line, the camp erupted in applause. The Gypsies in particular had already been morning our loss so they were especially pleased that we had survived one more day.
Alas, we only have one night of rest before the next episode—no rest for the weary, or injured! There’s one more team to be eliminated before the finals. And this next stage won’t be easy for Team No Limits. Perhaps we make it, perhaps not. Either way, I hope you’ve enjoyed the show so far and will keep sending us comments.
Jeff’s blog: http://mountain-vision.blogspot.com/
Gypsies’ blog: http://www.themoderngypsies.com/blog/
My friend and fellow board member at No Barriers was interviewed today on NPR. As a teenager, Hugh lost both of his legs below the knees due to a mountaineering accident. Now he is a professor at MIT and still an amazing dude!
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