Michael Tracy and his brother, David, reached the summit of Mount Everest from the North Ridge on May 23, 2013. It was their first attempt at the 8,850 meter (29,019 ft.) mountain, and neither of them had climbed any mountain higher than 5,000 meters (16,400 ft.) before. This is how they did it and why they did it.

How They got there

The Path to Everest

Some climb Mt. Everest for fame, some climb for adventure, and some just because they can. But Michael Tracy climbed the 29,019 feet through bitter cold and past the corpses of those who failed and remain on the mountain, to prove his high altitude method of endurance training would take him to the top of the world’s highest mountain.

Michael has been active all his life. His parents raised lions when he was born, and named their second son, Michael Lion Tracy. image He served in the Army, went to West Point, jumped out of planes, SCUBA dived, played tennis, skied, and climbed a few low mountains. But there was an obstacle to each of the physical endeavors Michael had to overcome. He had inherited thalassemia minor trait, a blood disorder, which is a form of anemia that reduces the amount of oxygen the blood hemoglobin carries. While this is not debilitating, those with thalassemia tire more quickly than others, and it was serious enough that Michael had to get a medical waiver to go to West Point. Because the disorder was detected when he was young, the thought of climbing Mount Everest never entered his mind. It would have been an impossible dream.

After leaving the military, Michael went to law school, and now has a highly successful labor law practice at the Law Offices of Michael Tracy, in Irvine, California. With all his success, tennis, which had been a passion since he was in middle school, became a challenge as he went against professional players. He was good, but because thalassemia, reduces the amount of oxygen each blood cell carries by about 25% he was never able to compete at a professional level. He threw himself into rigorous activities, believing that by developing strength, he could also overcome any endurance problem. He was training in rigorous parkour and free running when he read about a tennis player who used altitude training for endurance.

It turned out that nearly every professional or elite athlete was using several different methods of attitude training. The principle was simple. The air we breath at sea level is approximately 21% oxygen but only 17% a mile above sea-level. A person, or race horse, training in Denver would be breathing 20% less oxygen than those on America’s ocean beaches. Once acclimatize at the higher altitude, their blood would deliver more oxygen at a lower altitude. Michael found none of the methods to be adequate for his needs and developed his own training program. Within weeks he was working out in a 6% oxygen environment equivalent to over 30,000 feet.

As he pushed himself to even less oxygen at 35,000 feet, he realized that if he really believed in his training method, he needed to prove it by climbing to the 29,029 foot summit of Mt. Everest.

This is the training program Michael Tracy developed to take him and his brother, David, to the Summit of Mount Everest on May 23, 2103.

Why Climb Mount Everest?

"Why did they climb Mount Everest?" That is what their uncle, Kenpo Karate Grand Master Al Tracy, asked their father. Then he added, "Why did I break bricks and boards?" The answer to both questions was the same, "because they could."

In a society where there are no winners or losers, where success is not measured by accomplishment, but by how good you feel about yourself, there are few, a rare few, who say, “One of these days I’m going to climb that mountain.”

It does not matter what that “mountain” is. It can be a goal, a vision, or just a dream. Yet, it is not the mountain but the obstacles one overcomes in ascending those mountains that defines the person. And for those who achieve, life tends to be one conquest after another.

That is how it has been with Michael Tracy, and climbing Mount Everest is only the latest in a long line of personal achievements. Yet the idea of climbing the world’s highest mountain had not even crossed his mind until a year ago when he realized he could do it. And that realization came as he was developing a personal hypoxi, high altitude, training endurance training method.