Burpees at altitude

The #NOMAD challenge thrown out on the first of this month by Derek Robinson was something that definitely piqued my interest. 31 days of burpees? Try to accumulate 1,550 burpees during the month? You only have five minutes per day to accumulate those burpees? I was in. No question.

The first day of the challenge was uneventful in that it occurred in my backyard. 77 burpees completed on day one and was well on my way to hitting the 1,550 mark long before the 31st day of the month. But then came the second and third day of the challenge: I was scheduled to hike up Mt. Evans on day three.

On August 2nd, the second day of the challenge I found myself at West Chicago Creek campground which is just south of Idaho Springs and sits about 9,600 feet above sea level. Being from Denver I am obviously used to doing bupees about about one mile above sea level (5,280 feet for those challenged in basic distances), but adding about 4,000 feet made it a bit more difficult. I didn’t really have a strategy going into the five minutes of burpees on day two and just went all out. Five minutes later I had completed 67 burpees. Not bad considering the altitude.

But on Saturday I was going to hike Mt. Evans and, figured…what the hell…let’s do the five minutes of burpees from the summit of Mt. Evans.

Early Saturday morning we set off to hike Mt. Evans and all of his 14,260 feet of glory. About two hours later I found myself at the summit. About 10 minutes after enjoying the views from atop Mt. Evans I found a decently flat space of dirt and thought that was a good place to do my burpees. This time I figured, since I still had to hike down, that I was going to just do 10 burpees per minute for an even count of 50 burpees – the bare minimum if done daily to hit the 1,550 goal at the end of the month.

As I was doing the burpees I found the pace to be pretty easy. I would complete my 10 burpees in about 30-40 seconds (less than 30 seconds in minute zero and about 40 seconds to complete 10 by the final minute). While the pace was easy, catching my breath was not. At nearly three miles above sea level doing burpees is no easy task. Catching your breath during the work, or after, is difficult. Tree can’t grow above 11,000 feet (give or take depending on the direction the mountain faces) and that should tell you what you need to know about oxygen levels another 3,000 feet above that. There ain’t none.

As more hikers came to the summit I received a few choice comments. One hiker said “What are you doing?! Are you trying to make us all look bad?”. Another just simply said “What the f***?!”. Finally, a female doctor passed and she said “Don’t pass out. I’m a doctor and would have to resuscitate you.” Wow, I guess I am uglier than I thought!

After I completed my 50 burpees and there was about 20 seconds left in my five minutes I decided to wait until there was 10 seconds left and get one more in. 51 burpees completed at approximately 14,250 feet about sea level (I had to drop down about 10 feet below the summit, which is 14, 264 according to 14ers.com).

Anyone else out there done burpees (PLURAL, not just one burpee) in an odd or extreme place? Let’s hear about it.

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2 comments on “Burpees at altitude

  1. Tyler says:

    Yes actually, this march I was skiing backcountry in Park City, Utah and after hiking to the peak of the mountain for the day (around 11,00 feet) I decided to do a few burpees in full ski gear. Yes, boots and all. Worst decision of my life

    Bravo on 51 at that altitude, no way I would have made it

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