Avid outdoorsman Deny Farnworth doesn’t back down from a challenge. He battled asthma as a boy and severe Lyme disease as an adult. He hiked the world’s tallest mountain. And, he navigates construction projects in Utah’s most rugged conditions. While courage has been his compass through all of these pursuits, Bobcat compact equipment has been a hard-working and supportive partner every step of the way.
Fighting the good fight
At 21, Farnworth left his mentor’s business and started Farnworth Concrete Construction, building a hands-on contracting firm in Salt Lake City with plans of branching out into design-build. He was young and successful, but his health was mysteriously failing. Intense fatigue, respiratory problems and periods of convulsive shaking robbed his stamina for more than 20 years. He couldn’t pinpoint the source of his problems and there were no solid answers from the medical community. The things he loved to do became difficult.
“I used to work long days, ride horses and go hunting,” Farnworth says. “I had an outfitting company in Canada, but I had to shut it all down. We kept the company going, but I couldn’t physically do anything. It took all I had to get out of bed.”
Four years ago, a series of in-depth blood tests revealed that Farnworth had contracted the most aggressive strain of Lyme disease – the one that attacks organs.
“It almost killed me. I ended up having a mild stroke and a heart attack, and it shut down my pancreas. I’m not even 50, but it really messed me up,” Farnworth says.
A treatment survey asked him if there was a life goal that he’d never been able to achieve. “I put down to climb Everest.” It seemed like an impossible dream.
Climbing with trusted partners
“One day he asked, ‘What if there’s an opportunity to go climb Everest and show that someone with Lyme disease as severe as you had it can climb again? And, as your doctor, what if I went with you?’ I’m like, ‘Heck yeah. I’ll do anything once!’”
What was once a hobby became a six-month training regimen to acclimate his body for the rigors of trekking the 29,029-foot Mount Everest, a Himalayan peak on the border of Tibet and Nepal. To prepare, he hiked Utah’s Kings Peak (13,527 ft.) and Mount Timpanogos (11,752 ft.). A more demanding altitude test was a hunting expedition to Kyrgyzstan.
“I was at 16,200 feet on the border of China hunting Marco Polo sheep and looking right into China,” he says.
During the process of pumping a small mountain of vitamins into his system daily and taking ozone treatments, Farnworth was also expanding the company’s fleet of Bobcat equipment with his long-time dealership, Intermountain Bobcat. Sharing his climbing plans, his sales specialist asked the unthinkable – would Farnworth consider taking Bobcat on the journey? “They gave me the smallest Bobcat toy loader for my pack, and I promised to carry it as far as I could,” Farnworth says.
Stepping into the atmosphere
In April of 2017, Farnworth’s 22-person crew and Sherpa guide started their slow ascent on the mountain’s southern route from Lukla, Nepal, along the Dudh Kosi River valley. A series of climbs, descents and rests were required to acclimate to an elevation of 12,000 feet. The acclimation was not a problem for him, he says, due to living in Utah at elevations of 5,000 and 8,000 feet above sea level. Garlic tea soon became the drink of choice, which opens up critical capillaries to accept more oxygen into the bloodstream.
“I was doing good and actually thinking about bringing my four boys back with me sometime,” Farnworth says, “But at 15,000 feet, the air really started to get thin, and people were looking panicky and trying to get down as quick as they could for oxygen. From there, it got serious and dicey, and it was game-on.”
Reaching South Base Camp, members of Farnworth’s group stopped at the well-documented mounds of vibrant prayer flags and mementos where he dug into his bag and pulled out his Bobcat climbing companion for pictures.
Surviving an amazing adventure
The last two miles of the journey are the hardest both physically and mentally. “It’s the fear of the unknown,” Farnworth says. “With every step you’re losing oxygen and wondering, ‘When is it going to hit me? Is it going to hit me? Will my lungs start filling up with fluid?’”
Three weeks after they started, his group reached the American tent village in the South Base Camp – an elevation of 17,598. By then, Farnworth says his oxygen level had dropped to approximately 40 percent. That’s where the trek turned downhill for him. Most climbers accept oxygen at that point, but he declined.
“I had asthma as a kid, so I was afraid that if I took it, I’d never be able to get off. I laid in the tent that night listening to glacier avalanches and trying to exhale properly, but my lungs were filling up.”
The excess fluid build-up in his lungs – pulmonary edema – caused breathing difficulties that forced him and several others off the mountain a few hours later.
“I had promised my family I wouldn’t go any higher than a helicopter could land to get me out of trouble.”
Looking back, Farnworth has no regrets about not reaching the summit, but a second attempt is not on his bucket list. The distance to South Base Camp brought him closer to the most important thing in his life: family.
“It was an amazing adventure,” he says. “I saw the top of Everest and I got some cool pictures, but I would never do it again.”
Despite lingering health issues, he still has a love for work.
“I don’t want to quit. I like what I do. Bobcat’s got the best equipment I know of out there that does what they say it’s going to do. That’s why I use it. It’s kind of cool that I got to take a piece of Bobcat with me to Everest. I don’t think it’s ever been that far up.”