One Woman’s “Peak to Heat” Journey

Denise Fejtek climbing Mt. Everest.

Denise Fejtek climbing Mt. Everest.

The Peak to Heat Double is the ultimate accomplishment for thrill seekers and adrenaline junkies alike. The feat consists of a climb to the peak of Mount Everest and the extreme heat and harsh conditions of the Ironman World Championship in Hawaii. Since December 2012, though many have successfully completed one or the other, only three people have triumphed over both the peaks of Nepal and the valleys of the Aloha State. This year, after crossing the Ironman finish line in October, Denise Fejtek joined the ranks and became the first woman to conquer the Peak to Heat.

Her journey began in 2002 when, on a trip to visit a friend in Africa, Denise and her husband Paul, who is among the Peak to Heat champions, decided to climb Mount Kilimanjaro. The climb was unlike anything Denise had ever experienced. As she reached the 19,341-foot summit, she was overwhelmed with emotion.

“It was an amazing feeling—I had gotten there on my own two feet by my own sheer will and determination,” Fejtek told ESPNW. “Later we started to think about what mountain we would climb next.” 

Her climbing love affair gave way to a need to continually challenge herself. As she continued to climb to new heights, she and her husband also became involved in the Challenged Athletes Foundation. It was her wish to help others that made pushing physical limits so worthwhile, a sentiment she repeated when she crossed the Ironman finish line this year.

Denise Fejtek completed her Ironman this October.

Denise Fejtek completed her Ironman this October.

“My drive comes from a desire to help others who may be physically unable to use their bodies to live life fully like we are privileged to do,” she said.

In May 2010, Denise completed the first part of the Peak to Heat by reaching the summit of Mount Everest. She immediately began training for the Ironman, channeling the physical and mental strength she gained in her climbing toward completing the the 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike, and 26.2-mile run. When she finally crossed the finish line in October, however, she was stunned by her success.

Denise’s completion of the race helped her and her husband achieve the title of largest fundraisers for the Challenged Athletes foundation in 2013, which, according to Denise, was the real goal all along.

To read more about Denise’s journey, visit

Images and video courtesy Denise and Paul Fejtek

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