Over the past couple of years, Jeffrey McLaughlin, MD, an orthopedic surgeon specializing in hip and knee replacement, has twice attempted to scale the steep face of the Matterhorn in the Swiss Alps. He turned back both times because of thunder, lightning and ice storms. In early August this year, Dr. McLaughlin and a guide successfully climbed to the 14,700 ft. summit, accompanied by stiff winds and temperatures hovering at 15 degrees F.
When asked how he trained for the climb, Dr. McLaughlin answered, “My wife and I have been climbing for the past three years. We train by hiking with 40 pound vests on to strengthen our legs and increase endurance. And I do wall climbing at the “Y” every week to help with upper body strength.”
Dr. McLaughlin describes his 2012 alpine adventure as “one of the most exciting things I’ve ever done. We stayed in Chamonix in the French Alps and climbed three different mountains in order to get acclimated to the altitude. One day my guide and I traveled to Turin, Italy to climb the Grande Paradiso. As I was traversing a two mile glacier, a snow bridge gave way and I fell into a 150 foot crevasse.” He jokes about “clawing” his way up the ice wall using only crampons (climbing cleats) and an ice axe while being suspended by a thin nylon rope. Joking aside, Dr. McLaughlin felt it safer not tell his wife or 3 year old son about this adventure until after his successful summit of the Matterhorn several days later.
Future climbing plans include climbing the Eiger, a mountaineering challenge in the Bernese Alps; El Capitan, a sheer rock face located in Yosemite Park; and someday, the holy grail of all mountain climbers, Mt. Everest in the Himalayas.
Asked why he pursues such a perilous sport, Dr. McLaughlin responded, “I feel that it is essential to constantly challenge oneself. I choose endeavors that are barely within my reach yet so difficult they scare me witless.”
As the leader in Wisconsin orthopedics, The Kennedy Center for the Hip & Knee and Sports Medicine is justly proud of Dr. McLaughlin’s tremendous achievement in his outdoor endeavors. We’ll keep you up-to-date on Dr. McLaughlin’s future pursuits.