Over the past years George Shepard has emerged as a force to be reckoned with in the SGPT training group. As a former Marine George keeps his body and mind in excellent shape and has completed numerous challenges including 30 days of Murph, and being a class leader at “The Awakening”.
Check out this latest interview with George as he steps it up one more level as he just returned from the basecamp of Mount Everest.
SGPT: Tell us about yourself?
GS: 55 yr old Navy / Marine Veteran. Married with two children, son Sage and daughter Dakota. Live in Fairhope Alabama.
SGPT: Thanks so much for your service to this great Country. We appreciate your sacrifice.
SGPT: How did you get the inspiration to climb to the basecamp of Mt Everest?
GS:My son and I went to Nepal February 2020 for a wedding. Wedding was canceled so we went bought some gear and went on a 4 day trek in the Himalayas. Our guide was great and was talking a lot that we should do EBC trek.
We thought about it and after COVID was over said hell w/ it and let’s do it. Tried September 2022 but son was to travel to Canada, so we planned March 2023. Glad we did it. Great experience and looking forward to out next challenge.
SGPT: Can you tell us about your hike to the base of Everest Basecamp?
GS: It was a 17 day trek and cut down to 15 days. Supposed to be Everest Base camp and 3 passes. Cut down to 1 pass and Everest Base Camp. We trekking at a fast pace about averaging 10 miles daily in 4-5 hrs daily. High altitudes started to take effect on me around 16500ft and my son around 17500.
I was told twice to turn around. Getting massive headaches and dizziness. 1 day out from Everest I was advised to stop and head down back to Dingboche, checked in w/ my son. Talked about it, handed him SealGrinderPT Flag and he pushed on towards Everest Base Camp.
I headed down and took another route and hooked up with him 3 days later. They decided to cancel other 2 passes due to my son and another guy on team getting altitude sickness at base camp. Met up and hit a few villages on way down to Lukla. I’m happy he made Everest Base Camp. I fell short but still seen Everest and trip was still spectacular. It was pretty much of 15 days of no sleep (3-4hrs nightly), cold 24-7, drink a lot of hot water and eat a lot of potato. I wish I made it but wasn’t time. It was life changing and I see life in a different way.
SGPT: Tell us about your acclimatization to the higher elevations. How did you prepare for that and how did it effect you?
GS: We stayed 2 days in Namche Bazar and 2 days in Dingboche to acclimatize. Namche we hit 12000ft and Dingboche 16500ft . We would get to height and hang out for an hour. At 16500 is when I started to get the headaches and dizziness but wasn’t too bad.
SGPT: Tell us about the local culture in the Himalayas.
GS: The villages are cold, dry and windy. Sherpas, Bhotias, Thakalis live here. They wear thick woolen clothes to stay warm. A lot of potato farmers, monasteries and amazing they love volleyball. Children love chocolate. Villages are mostly tea houses which is where you stay to eat and sleep. I saw 16th century monastery and another one famous for Yeti (Bigfoot). Monasteries were remarkable.
SGPT: How did you train for a big expedition like this?
GS: I was doing a combo of weights, CrossFit, running and swimming. I would recommend heavy rucks and heavy box step ups. My son and I were feeling it lugging 45 lb packs up and down for this trip.
SGPT: How long did you have this trip planned? Did it require any kind of special permit?
GS: We talked about it earlier in 2022 and was planning on Sept/Oct 2022 but my son had travel for work then. So we contacted the guide we had in 2020 and he recommended March/April. So we booked it in January w/ HigherTrekking. They handle all permits and tea houses.
SGPT: Your son went along with you. Tell us about that experience having him along with you.
GS: It was awesome, he loved it and was keeping everyone motivated each and every day. His saying was Alabama doing Everest old school lugging our own packs. Suck it up. It was funny. Proud of him hitting Everest and getting that pick w/ the SealGrinderPT flag.
SGPT: What boots did you use for the hike up?
GS: Salewa Mountain Trainer 2 Mid Gore-Tex Boots. I never broke them in until this trip and highly recommend them.
SGPT: What good book are you reading now?
GS: Covert Warrior, Fighting the CIAs Secret War in Southeast Asia and China, 1965-1967. Vietnam War Memoir of Warren Smith.
SGPT: Do you have any other big mountain trips planned on the horizon?
GS: Manchu Picchu, Peru 2024 w/ my son Sage
SGPT: Thanks for the interview and for inspiring others.
GS: No issues, just old vet living his best life. I would like to Thank everyone with the SGPT grinder group. Great team and you are a great inspiration Coach. They keep me going day in and day out. Hooyah 🔱🇺🇸
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