Episode 5

Cold Weather Summit Run with Vic Ventura


Cold Weather Summit Run

Featuring Vic Ventura

To say that I am grateful for the friends I’ve made in this life is a vast understatement, and for many reasons. Chief amongst them is the ability to come to a few of them with ideas that are generally far enough out there to make the majority of people uncomfortable.

Yet it’s not so much the freedom to simply express these ideas, as it is the understanding that they’re willing to attempt them with me.

So when I came to Vic suggesting that we could certainly run to the summit of our local mountain in our underwear, in January… he agreed.

Truthfully, he’d already agreed to the idea of daily submersions in the thirty-something degree creek behind our gym, so a pseudo-streak up a snowy mountain ridge in broad daylight seemed like the natural progression.

Our most honest apprehension lay not in our ability to complete the task, so much as in the genuine curiosity as to whether or not we’d be ticketed for our lack of outerwear.

It turned out that we got mostly odd looks, a few photos taken with us, and one particularly smitten lady asking us for our autographs. Thankfully, no tickets, however.

It was also a pretty affirming experience for our cold weather training. The run itself is fairly straightforward, and if one follows the ridge, they can typically reach the summit in 25-45 minutes, depending on individual pace. However, given that we’d set out to film the ordeal, we wound up re-running several sections in order for the camera team to be able to re-position or capture the action. As a result, we probably ran the length of the mountain close to three or four times.

But most interesting was the fact that in we spent nearly four total hours completely undressed and exposed to the cold, relying on the breathing techniques to regulate our temperatures. There were some welcome appearances from the sun, and the temperatures ranged from about thirty degrees at first, and likely high thirties at their peak. It was official. Our cold training regimen was working.

Actually, to be perfectly truthful, it wasn’t “our” regimen. We’d read about the Wim Hof method, pioneered by the Dutch super-athlete who’d perfected his cold weather game. He’d run to around 26,000 feet on Everest in just his underwear, and routinely guided groups to the summit of Kilimanjaro in the same state of undress. So our regimen was actually a Level One version of his, to be precise.

Yet aside from my sheer stubbornness that if one man could do it, then so could we, his method settled on the exact same principles as Embrace the Animal. The idea that humans are not that physically different from our ancestors, whose daily exposure to the hardships of their environment essentially crafted them naturally into survival super-athletes.

In our modern age, we’ve simply removed all the hardships, and in our newfound state of almost constant comfort, our body lacks the stimulus from our natural environment to establish and maintain these abilities. Just as the captive orca’s dorsal fin slumps in its tank because it actually requires the pressure of the ocean to keep it upright, so have we simply cut ourselves off from this natural source of durability.

On the surface, soaking each day in freezing water, or running through the cold exposed may look like an exercise in foolishness, or even suicide. But underneath it is actually a calculated and controlled exercise in breathing and circulation that cultivates ever growing levels of positive bodily functions, from higher circulation, body temperature regulation, higher stores of brown fat, and improved immune function.

The limits of our capabilities are not long lost with our ancestors. They’re right there for each of us to access, as long as we’re willing to endure the cold to unlock them.

And perhaps, the slight risk of a ticket. We’ll see.

Images from Episode Five