Days before Archie Griffin was about to embark on a lifelong dream to climb Mount Everest, he was walking around his home in Washington, N.C., wondering how he could make his trip memorable. “I wanted something that would distinguish me from everyone else,” says Griffin, who graduated from NC State in 2012.
That’s when he saw his NC State tailgate flag.
Over the next twenty-three days, Griffin would face brutal cold, deadly snow drifts and grueling days of hiking to reach the Everest Base Camp, nearly 18,000 feet up the mountain. After years of dreaming of visiting the Himalayas and seeing one of the “Seven Natural Wonders of the World,” Griffin finally decided to make the journey this winter. He flew to Nepal and began his trek up the mountain.
Of the twenty-three days Griffin was in country, he spent seventeen days hiking, usually for four to six hours per day. The first week was particularly demanding as Griffin found himself climbing nearly straight vertically while carrying fifty pounds of equipment on his body.
“The first few days were the hardest,” Griffin says. “I’m not as active as I used to be, but there was nothing that I could have done to prepare myself for it.”
The altitude caused Griffin to be perpetually hungry and thirsty, and no amount of dal-baht tarkari (a Nepalese dish consisting of steamed rice and a cooked lentil soup) or water could quench it. As he reached base camp, the temperatures dipped to a biting negative 35 degrees Fahrenheit and snow drifts were over three feet, reaching up to his waist. His group would go no further due to the dangerous mountainous conditions. Another climber at the camp did not heed the warnings, and lost his life trying to climb higher up the mountain.
“I didn’t want the mountain to be the last destination,” Griffin said. “I have other things to see in the world.”
The rough conditions didn’t stop him from waving the NC State flag when he reached the mountain, making his trip a memorable one.
On the home front, Archie is the co-owner of Griffin Farms, Inc., a family-owned farm in his hometown that he runs with his father, Steven Griffin. Griffin Farms, Inc. specializes in tobacco, and the father-son duo spend countless hours in the summer planting and harvesting the crop, along with smaller harvests of corn, wheat, and soybeans. A fourth generation farmer, Griffin enjoys his lifestyle. He says down time in the winter has allowed to him to travel and take part in adventures like the Everest trip.
“I love traveling,” he says. “I’ve backpacked across Europe by myself before and what’s great about it is that forces you out of your comfort zone. It allows you to meet new people and take you places that you’d never thought you would go. Farming gives me the freedom to travel when and where I want to.”
— Christian Candeloro