Glenwood Springs resident has the climb of his life
If You Go
What: Aspen premiere of “Climb for Freedom”
When: 7 p.m. Thursday
Where: Wheeler Opera House
How Much: $10
When Glenwood Springs resident and Aspen-based success coach Jeff Patterson had the opportunity to climb Aconcagua, the highest mountain outside of Asia at 22,841 feet, he took it. But he got something out of it that he wasn’t expecting — something intangible, and something more meaningful than bragging rights.
“I realized I didn’t just climb the mountain,” Patterson said. “I’d become a different person.”
Patterson is one in a group of seven ordinary men whose journeys up and down Aconcagua have been chronicled in “Climb for Freedom,” a documentary directed by Aspen success coach Stephen McGhee. The movie will have its Aspen premiere at 7 p.m. on Thursday at the Wheeler Opera House.
Patterson was invited to participate by McGhee. He and his six comrades trained together for a year before tackling the summit, which Patterson said is not a particularly technical climb, but is still difficult. He said only 40 percent of climbers who attempt it make it to the top.
While Patterson did make it to the top, it wasn’t easy. He said over the course of the 18-day journey, he suffered from altitude sickness and even witnessed a death.
“On my way to the summit, a man, not in my group, fell off to his death in front of me,” Patterson said. “I almost turned around.”
But Patterson did not turn around, even after such a harrowing experience.
“So when I finally did summit, it felt incredible,” he said. “I got to the top, and I was grateful to be alive, but then I had to get down.”
After his journey back was complete, he said he came home and told his story to his girlfriend at the time, who is now his wife. He said that retelling was the moment it really struck him what he had overcome.
While the documentary itself will be the centerpiece of the event at the Wheeler, Patterson will also interview McGhee on stage and lead a discussion about the literal or metaphorical mountains audience members want to climb.
“My passion in life is helping people create miracles in their life and business,” Patterson said. “I thought it would be a great idea to show this film and have an inspired conversation. It will have them seeing what’s possible in their own life.”
Patterson had always wanted to do something great with his life, something that pushed him to his limits and challenged him in ways he’d never been challenged before. But there is a difference between wanting and doing, and that’s what his discussion at the premiere will address.
“Climbing the mountain was a dream off in the distance,” he said. “But there is no tomorrow.”
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