Now take that feat and couple it with a climb to the summit of the highest place on earth: Mount Everest. Boulder hiker Eric Larsen did just that, taking on both poles and summiting Mount Everest. While he's not the first person to tackle all three in a lifetime, he is the first person to take on and complete all three in a single year.
His goal wasn't for fitness, for fun and adventure, or to get his name published in the Guinness Book of World Records; Larsen climbs with the Save the Poles expedition, which strives to tell the story of the last great frozen places on the planet. It also raises awareness about the impact human-caused climate change is having on the acceleration of global warming.
"[We want] to show people how they're changing, and most importantly, let people understand what they can do to help protect them," Larsen said.
In October, Larsen climbed Mount Everest, which he called an "incredible experience." Had you taken a snapshot of Everest and zoomed in on the mountain, Larsen could have pointed to the dot that was him. That is how few people were climbing during that time of the year.
"It's very different than climbing to the poles. We climbed with just a small team, and we summited in the fall season in October. Nobody has summited [during that time] over the past four or five years. So we were actually the only people on the entire mountain. It was incredible," Larsen said.
During Larsen's remarkable journey to the summit of Mount Everest, he also observed some remarkable changes because of climate change resulting from global warming. He heard stories about the changes, too, which provided some backbone evidence to his observations.
"Just talking to some of the local there [...], the biggest change is that the glaciers are dramatically shrinking," he said. "The ice fall, which goes out from Everest into base camp... the ice pinnacles there have decreased substantially over the past several years."
Larsen understands that a divided political climate in Washington will make dramatic legislative changes difficult. However, he hopes his climbing and the stories he shares will inspire individuals to act.
"The problem of trying to get to the North Pole and South Pole and Mount Everest, to me, is almost overwhelming to the point of inaction. But what I realize is, to take that action against something like global warming, start as one person toward a solution or toward completing that goal."
Larsen says his next challenge isn't one he can climb, but rather the mountain of "trying to have a normal life."
To learn more about the Save the Poles expedition, click onto www.savethepoles.com