Matt at PHA's 10th International PH Conference
When my best friend Iain was 5, he was diagnosed with pulmonary hypertension. Right around that time I was heading up to Nepal for my first mountain climbing experience. I visited a hospital there where they were doing pulmonary testing, and I started to realize what Iain was going through. Climbing helped me experience what Iain has felt through PH – it’s one of the only sports you can do that. I choose to do high altitude mountaineering, and it’s like Iain has to do it 24/7.
When I was 12, I wanted to do a climb more focused toward Iain, so we came up with the idea to do fourteen 14,000-foot peaks in 14 days. Then we decided to amp things up and reach the highest point in each state in under 50 days. We raised over $20,000 for PH through these climbs.
[While planning these climbs] I started realizing that a lot of people were getting interested in my climbing, and that I could direct this attention towards Iain to inspire doctors to research a cure for PH. After I did my first interview, I started getting emails from other people with PH – they said that before this, they had never been able to easily explain PH to their family or friends, and now they could actually explain and pinpoint what they were feeling all the time [because I had compared it to mountain climbing in my interview]. That was one of the most amazing parts.
Watch a documentary about Matt's climbs to raise awareness
Watch Matt talk about climbing and PH at a BIFF/TED Conference
Watch an Outside Television piece on Matt’s climbs to raise awareness