UVU Flag Planted On Mt. Everest Summit
June 8, 2011
For Immediate Release
University Marketing & Communications: Mike Rigert (801) 863-6807
Written by: Matt Reichman (801) 863-6808
Utah Valley University has now flown its flag atop a 29,029-foot flagpole, if only briefly, thanks to an adventurous member of its Woodbury School of Business National Advisory Council.
Martin Frey, former director for the Utah Governor’s Office of Economic Development, summited Mount Everest on May 20, and during his half hour on top of the world, installed a bit of UVU green and white among the frozen mounds of mementos and prayer flags adorning the planet’s highest peak.
Placing that flag, which he later removed before the wind could, signified that “an education at UVU can take you anywhere you want to go,” Frey said. “I think UVU has come into its own recently in a number of ways. It was a great opportunity to highlight the school.” Currently an angel investor and partner of Salt Lake City-based Connect Partners, Frey has played a key role in kick-starting entrepreneurial initiatives at the University.
“Martin Frey’s gesture is symbolic of UVU’s rapidly growing reputation in higher education,” UVU President Matthew S. Holland said. “More than ever, Frey and other UVU community constituents are impacting their communities and professions well beyond the scope of Utah Valley.”
The Everest climb was the fourth on Frey’s Seven Summits tally, which already includes Kilimanjaro, McKinley and Aconcagua. He began the undertaking alongside friend Steve Gasser, whose 2010 passing Frey also memorialized atop Everest. All told, it was a 51-day journey, including the 10-day trek to the 17,200-foot base camp, weeks of acclimatization and an aborted summit attempt due to weather.
“Honestly, mostly it felt cold,” Frey joked of reaching the summit. “At first, you’re just out of breath, and beat. Then you realize where you are, and you get into hugging and celebrating. Then you kind of get this perspective that you’re looking out over the world.”
And, just like that, it’s time to turn back around. The descent, Frey notes, is the most accident-prone leg of the ordeal. Sure enough, mere moments after heading down, he had a stomach-churning slip on the infamous Hillary Step – “for a few seconds I was hanging on a rope with a 6,000-foot drop below me,” he said.
It snowed all but two days, said Frey (who will have lingering numbness in his toes for at least another month) and four of his team’s 12 climbers turned back before the top. Three of those four were not mentally tough enough, he said – a microcosm from which he gleaned a great life lesson:
“You can be physically ready, but it’s kind of a mental grind,” Frey said. “You get defeated mentally before you get defeated physically.” Be it climbing a mountain or hitting the books or running a business, it’s always about mental fortitude, he said. “Things like physical discomfort, being tired – those things detract from your energy level and you’ve got to overcome it by creating positive energy around you.”
This achievement, as well as Frey’s consideration of UVU in a moment of such import, should serve as inspiration to UVU students, Norman Wright, Woodbury dean, said.
“Even with oxygen tanks and the latest technology, there’s still something about Everest that captures the imagination,” he said. “For years, our UVU students have kind of been the little brother or little sister in Utah’s education system. Now it’s our time to start climbing up those larger mountains. Frey recognized this, and [provided] a tangible symbol of where UVU students can go. That’s pretty compelling imagery.”
Frey’s wife, Kym, actually hiked alongside him to base camp. When it came time to move on, Frey accompanied her down through three hours of particularly tricky terrain – “I so appreciated him for this,” Kym said – and the two said goodbye.
“It was so emotional for me that I couldn’t turn around as I went back down and he went back up,” said Kym, who returned to their daughters, Meredith and Lily, at home. “It was very hard for me knowing he’d be gone for so long and understanding what he was about to accomplish. I was so proud of him at that moment.”
Frey has been a member of the Woodbury NAC since 2004. He was born in New Jersey, and is a graduate of Brigham Young University and Harvard’s Advanced Management program. He worked for Cisco Systems in Silicon Valley for 13 years prior to joining Utah’s Economic Development Office under Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. He’s currently involved with several entrepreneurial endeavors across Utah, including BoomStartup, a mentorship-driven investment group.
For more information and photos, visit Frey’s blog at TeamEndurance.Blogspot.com
Utah Valley University is located in Orem, Utah, and is home to nearly 33,000 students. UVU began as a vocational school during World War II, and in the seven decades since has evolved into a technical school, community college, state college and, finally, a comprehensive regional teaching university. UVU is one of Utah’s largest institutions of higher learning and offers programs ranging from career training to high-demand master degrees, with emphasis on undergraduate education.