"Growing up in Chicago, I used to live in Cabrini-Green in the 1950s. One of the games my brothers and I used to play was racing from the first floor to the 19th floor. When I tell people what it’s like to trek up this mountain, it’s like you’ve already made it to the 16th floor, and you look up and see the Hancock Center on top of that, so you have to go that much further. And as soon as you get up the Hancock, there’s another Sears Tower above. Depending on where you are and which mountain it is, you can only see so far. You’re feeling pretty good because you think, I’m going to have a leveled area where I can catch my breath. And as soon as you get there, the next thing you know, it just keeps going up.
"Our acclimation day was a two and a half hour hike, and we thought that was going to kill us. The next day it went to six and a half hours, and we knew we were dead. Then it went to eight and a half hours, and with the high altitude, we had less than two-thirds of the oxygen we would have in Chicago or Indianapolis. For even the most fit athlete, their breathing is going to be compromised if they’re up that high. When you’re in the country and start your trekking, there are signs that say, “Take it slowly, high altitudes can kill.” They don’t cut any corners, they just let you know that you can be a statistic and be carried away by an emergency helicopter—at $12,000 a ride—to a hospital that might be 25 feet by about 15 feet, and if you’re lucky and your symptoms aren’t severe, you’ll be okay."