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Dawson's Peak | Monster Energy
Matt Dawson is attempting to break seven world records to be a part of something greater.
Matt Dawson. Where do we even begin? To start, he’s badass. He’s dedicated his life to pushing himself past his mental and physical limits, and to inspire others to conquer their own challenges with the same motivation and mindset. He emphasizes how we ourselves are the biggest hindrance to conquering our goals, and if you truly unleash the beast, you can conquer anything.
“I can’t tell you how many times I've been on a mountain or rowing, and I see in the corner of my eye that Green Monster Claw. It reminds me that isn't about me, and that I’m a part of something larger.”
In 2016, Matt Dawson was the managing director of an investment bank and lost two extremely important people in his life: his mom and his girlfriend. After the devastating losses, he knew it was time for a change. So, he packed up and traveled to Nepal and spent three weeks hiking around the Mount Everest region. On this trip, his life was changed. An energy came over him, “I heard it with every fiber and cell in my being, and it said two things: One, you’re not living with a sense of purpose. Two, your life is only about you. I knew in that moment, that my life had changed forever.”
Flash forward two years, Dawson continued to work and climb as much as possible, still searching for how to make his life’s purpose a reality. On Mount Elbrus in Russia, Dawson purpose finally came to light. He wanted to start an organization to create large scale global expeditions where viewers can draw parallels and identify the mountains in their life and use Dawson’s example to motivate and apply themselves to overcome their challenge. From there, Dawsons Peak was born.
Dawson was ready to be pushed outside of his comfort zone and challenged in areas where he didn't have expertise. “A lot of times when you watch people trying to do big things, they are athletes who have done things like this for 20 - 30 years. A lot of people sit there and think ‘Yeah, that's cool, but I could never do that.’ But me, being a 40-year-old investment banker with no experience whatsoever in some of these things, it removes that excuse and makes it more relatable to people so they can say ‘Hey, if this guy can do it, then maybe I can do it too.’”
SEVEN WORLD RECORDS
Dawson is attempting to break seven world records which include: The Explorers Grand Slam (summiting the seven highest peaks in each continent and reaching the two poles), rowing across the Atlantic Ocean, traversing the Mojave Desert, and a global circumnavigation flight.
THE CLIMB: Seven Summits & Two Poles, the Explorer's Grand Slam
Aconcagua: Argentina, South America. Height: 22,837 ft. Denali: Alaska, North America. Height: 20,310 ft. Mount Elbrus: Location: Russia, Europe. Height: 18,510 ft. Mount Everest: Nepal, Asia. Height: 29,032 ft. Mount Kilimanjaro: Tanzania, Africa. Height: 19,341 ft. Mount Kosciuszko: New South Wales, Australia. Height: 7,310 ft. Mount Vinson: Antarctica. Height: 16,050 ft.
“You can’t buy your way up a mountain, you have to earn it. On a mountain, there are only 3 daily objectives: try not to get hurt or killed, try to make some progress, and help those around you if needed.” Each expedition is of course a test of physical strength, but mostly, it’s all mental.
Dawson trained for 922 days, which totals 2,076 hours. He never skipped or modified a workout. He did most of his training in a fasted state of both food and water. In preparation for the expedition, Dawson did his training alone. And by alone, we mean without another person as well as no music, podcast, audio books, anything. “I wanted to ensure that I wasn’t dependent on external motivation to perform.” His motivation wasn’t fueled through his favorite songs, it was fueled through his mindset and mental stamina.
So, then what? Well, Dawson conquered the Seven Summits. Each one having individual challenges and hardships of its own, Dawson found that Aconcagua brought the biggest mental and physical challenge. After attempting to summit in 2017, a storm caused him to turn around at 22,000ft. “That had been hanging over my head for years.”
On his second attempt, Dawson had another hurdle to jump in this already challenging expedition. He had just been in Antarctica for over a month, meaning he was acclimated to low elevation areas, and the altitude adjustment caused severe altitude sickness. So here comes the real challenge. He’s 800 feet from the top. It’s his second attempt, he’s come this far, and he’s determined to finish.
“I remember sitting there when we were 800 feet from the top, I was about 98% done in my head. I looked up at the summit, and I'm just like screw that, it's right there. Literally every single step for the next 800 feet I said three things myself: ‘Don’t throw up; Don’t pass out; Don’t shit your pants…’ I had bad diarrhea and increasing dehydration at the time. I knew if any of those happened, I would likely be done and get turned around. I was able to summit 3 days after leaving sea level and completed the entire trip in 3.5 days. The average trip is 14-20 days.”
He Unleashed the Beast and summited Aconcagua, proving exactly what he wanted: you can accomplish anything with the right mindset. His biggest takeaway can be applied to any situation an individual has to face:
“We are all capable of so much more than we give ourselves credit. You just must make the decision that you will succeed – that doesn’t always mean summiting, but rather accomplishing your highest priority. As the challenges increase, the margin between success and failure decreases. Maintaining the proper combination of patience, perspective and perseverance can see you through any situation.”
THE ROW: El Hierro to Guadeloupe Island
Total Time: 53 days, 3 hours, 30 minutes
Total Distance: 3,084 miles (statue) 2,681 miles (nautical)
Imagine this: You’re in an open deck boat, rowing across the Atlantic. It’s raining 90% of the trip, you’re battling weather conditions and don’t have a safety boat making sure you’re okay. No music or entertainment, no chef cooking your dinner after enduring a 12 hour rowing shifts. It’s you, your partner, and the ocean.
“I had absolutely no rowing or ocean experience whatsoever” was the way Dawson and his partner, Patrick Favre, started their Atlantic expedition. Placed in a 22 foot “open deck” ocean row boat, Dawson and Patrick shared the 4ft x 4ft x 4ft living space in front cabin and rowed for 12 hours straight. “Once we started rowing, we rowed 24 hours a day until we finished. Neither my partner nor I missed a single shift; each rowing 12 hours a day. I rowed 639 hours in 53 days.”
53 days on the ocean, not on a cruise or even a sheltered boat, provided some large physical and mental hurdles for Dawson and Patrick to overcome. “You’re always tired and hungry; the boat is in constant motion; there is constant noise; you’re wet most of the time; your skin starts to fall off and can rot away creating sores, lesions and eventually holes. It continues to get harder every hour and every day.”
But if you haven’t figured it out already, Dawson always applies a mindset that can adapt to the challenge and find a way to push through. Despite having sores and being wet and cold for 7.5 weeks, he knew he wanted to succeed and show others that they conquer whatever mental or physical “row” they are going through. “You must decide you’re going to succeed and that’s it. It’s very easy to lose your mind and get overwhelmed. You can only focus on the minute to minute and hour to hour. If you allow your world to get too big, it will crush you.”
The coolest part of it? “Not seeing land for 53 days and being total alone and self-reliant. It was an incredible feeling of connection to nature and the sea.”
THE DESERT: Mojave Desert and Death Valley
The Route: Beatty, Nevada to Victorville, California
Total Time: 6 days and 23 hours
Total Distance: 213 miles
Death Valley is the hottest place on earth with a recorded temperature of 134°F, and what did Dawson do? He trekked it, alone. Why wouldn’t he?
“The Mojave was 213 miles and under seven days, with a big cart in tow, I was moving 12 hours a day, completely alone. I was solo and unsupported, meaning I carried all my supplies and didn’t accept/use assistance from anyone.” It was even reported that during the trek, Dawson experienced an advanced case of cellulitis in his lower left leg. For those of us who don’t know what that is: cellulitis is a skin infection that makes the area swollen, red, and painful. If left untreated, it can become life-threatening or lead to sepsis. This wasn’t exactly a walk in the park.
The hardest thing to overcome for Dawson on this trek was “moving 12 hours each day regardless of how I felt or the terrain. You are getting weaker day to day and keep pushing to make it to the end before your body shuts down. When you’re solo and unsupported, you only have a limited number of supplies and hence energy. Which one will run out first? The route or your ability to keep pushing forward?”
THE FLIGHT: Global Circumnavigation
A flight around the world.
Dawson’s next expedition will be flying a single-engine turboprop plane around the globe. While the route is still being determined, he’s most likely leaving from contiguous US to the northern Atlantic, then central Europe, over to the Middle East, then to lower Asia, soaring towards the northern Pacific from Japan to Alaska, then finally Alaska to contiguous US.