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  Mt. Everest 2004: Will Cross

NovoLog® Peaks and Poles Challenge: Mt. Kilimanjaro Behind Him, Will Cross Takes On The Ultimate Trial -  Mt. Everest

First person with diabetes to reach the North and South Poles and will Climb the Seven Highest Peaks in the World.

Will Cross, who last year became the first person with diabetes to reach the South Pole, is poised to begin his ascent on April 1, 2004, to the highest point on earth,  the summit of Mt. Everest. 

Just as type 1 diabetes didn’t keep him from trekking across 680 miles of frigid Antarctic wilderness to the South Pole and didn’t keep him from climbing Mt. Vinson, the highest peak on the continent at the bottom of the world, and didn’t stop his ascent of Tanzania’s 19,339 foot Mt. Kilimanjaro, the highest peak on the African continent – he vows it won’t keep him from the summit of Mt. Everest. 

The 36-year-old high-school principal now has only three climbs left to complete the NovoLog® Peaks and Poles Challenge, a walk to both the North and South Poles, and climbs of the seven highest peaks on each continent.  Having already reached both Poles and having climbed to the summits of the highest mountains in North and South America, Antarctica, and Africa, Will’s next challenge is the climb of climbs, the ultimate challenge for any mountaineer - 29,035 foot-high Mt. Everest.  

And to make this April’s 26.9 mile uphill Everest expedition even more special, Will has arranged to have his wife, Amy, meet him at the 17,000-foot base camp upon his return from the top of the world.  

“Everest will be the most difficult leg of the NovoLog® Peaks and Poles Challenge,” says Will Cross.  “I want to show the millions of people worldwide with diabetes that they don’t have to be defined by their disease; that we can accomplish anything.”

In addition to having to cope with the extreme heat of tropical rain forests at the base of Mt. Kilimanjaro and the freezing temperatures, howling winds, and lack of oxygen at the top of Mt. Everest, Will Cross will have the added challenge of controlling his blood sugar levels and dealing with the additional health issues associated with diabetes.  People with type 1 diabetes cannot make insulin, a hormone needed to transport glucose from the bloodstream into body tissues, where it is used for energy.  To prevent blood glucose levels from becoming too high or too low, either of which can be life-threatening, people with the condition must monitor their blood glucose levels and inject themselves with prescribed doses of insulin multiple times a day.   While on Everest, he will need about four insulin shots a day of NovoLog®, and long-acting Novolin®. “But I’ll need about 60 percent less insulin each day than I normally do because I’ll be burning so many calories climbing I won’t need as much,” says Will. 

Will chose a route to the top of Kilimanjaro that allowed him three or four days at between 18,000 and 19,000 feet so he could have as much time as possible at high altitudes. “For the last several years most of my challenges have been horizontal, not vertical, so I needed to really get in shape for Mt. Everest,” he explained.  While on Mt. Vinson in Antarctica in late 2003, Will made some major adjustments in his diet. “Instead of focusing on complex carbohydrates, such as energy bars, I asked myself what the world’s most experienced climbers, the Swiss and Austrians eat, and they eat meats and cheeses. So I tried that and it was terrific; I ate meat stews for breakfast and dinner, and ate cheeses, salami and nuts throughout the day, and I kept my blood sugar more even than it had been, with fewer highs and lows.”

While on Everest, he will be drinking four to six liters of water each day, about a liter more than someone with a normal metabolism would need. And rather than use the full-face oxygen mask that most climbers use, Cross will be using a newer British-developed system with a nasal canula, a small tube that crosses his face with a small prong in each nostril and a sensor in his nose “that recognizes when I’m inhaling. Each time I inhale, it will release a little oxygen, and that way I can carry less, because I’ll waste less.”

After Will Cross completes the Everest expedition, he will climb Russia’s 18,841 foot-high Mt. Elbrus, and finish up by conquering the 16,023 foot Carstenz Pyramid, in Indonesia to complete the NovoLog® Peaks and Poles Challenge. 

Will is a member of the International Mountain Guides team for 2004...

Eric Simonson, veteran expedition leader, Everest Summiter, author and motivational speaker.
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