Meet the Explorer: Neil Hershman

In December, I came across Neil’s profile on Instagram after he answered ‘No’ to having visited my website before. Once I visited his page, his content instantly captured my eyes. Mountains, adventure, and a high-octane lifestyle…one that I wanted to hear more about. I was also interested in the fact that he was an entrepreneur and interested in business…especially owning his own. So here it is, the moment we have all been waiting for! So Neil, take it away!

Short Biography

Hey, I’m Neil Hershman. I’m originally from the suburbs of New York, but now live in the middle of Manhattan. I grew up playing the standard fair of sports, but around age 20 I discovered my next passion project – endurance sports. Since then, I’ve completed various ultra-marathons and triathlons including a quintuple ironman distance tri (continuous 12-mile swim, 560 mile bike, 131 mile run). I’ve also climbed some big peaks around the world, including Mt. Blanc (Switzerland), Mt. Ama Dablam and Island Peak (Nepal) and Mt. Aspiring (New Zealand). When I’m not trying to break my body, I’m also an FAA commercial rated pilot and PADI master rated scuba diver. My go to breakfast is Captain Crunch (oops all berries, of course).

New to YouTube, Neil just released his first video. Check it out below!

What do you do for a living, how did you end up in that field? 

Currently I own and operate a few frozen yogurt spots. I began my professional career in finance but wasn’t passionate about the work/lifestyle. I decided to hand in my resignation and hope my side hustles could pay rent, and during that time I discovered a struggling dessert business that needed new energy and leadership. I now have a strong team of managers behind me, and we are serving thousands of happy customers everyday which is a great feeling!

When did you first start enjoying the outdoors?

Fortunately, my parents got me outside when I was young, beginning with annual camping trips in Lake George NY. I always loved the water – ocean, lake, etc. Got my first scuba rating at age 9 or 10.

What is your favorite place to explore? 

I think my time in less-developed countries has made the most impact. I find that the locals always have a more optimistic, stress-free way of life. I’ve noticed that many of these people see a value in natural resources that we might take advantage of in the US and apply a level of artisanal craftsmanship to even the simplest of tasks. I’ve spent about two months in Nepal over the last two years and really love it there.

How many of the 50 United States have you visited? Favorite?

Hard to say, but including drive throughs, I’d say at least half of the fifty. Outside of New York, Washington DC (technically not a state) is my favorite.

How many countries, where? 

I’d guess twenty plus at this point. In the last five years, some memorable trips include Iceland, India, South Africa, Nepal, New Zealand and Switzerland.

Best hike you have ever had? 

Chakhung Ri in Nepal. My friend Sarah and I woke up on a rest day 48 hours after summitting Island Peak (20,305 feet) and decided to leisurely trek up the rocky peak with our Sherpa Tashi. We expected it to take 4 hours, but we both were well acclimated and felt strong. We hit the summit after an hour twenty, took a few pictures, ate a snickers bar, and decided we should race back down to see if we can make the whole trip in under two hours. Super fun running downhill at 18,000 feet in just a T-shirt.

Essential items for summer hikes/winter hikes in your opinion.

Winter – A good pair of gortex gloves. I love my Rab Alliance.

Summer – A breathable long sleeve. Saves your arms from getting burnt during the day and keeps you warmer at night.

Most comical hike/adventure story? 

Oh the best stories are well kept secrets for those who were there. I’ll say that a lot of the funniest stories are bathroom related – since we are generally eating foreign foods cooked with inadequate equipment at high altitudes where there are no bathrooms.

Scariest hike/adventure story?

The downclimb on triple cone in the Remarkables (New Zealand) was pretty scary for me at the time. We made the climb alpine style, and I gained a lot of essential rock-climbing experience! But I was left wishing for a simple rappel when my arms began to get tired later in the afternoon.

Upcoming trips planned?

I’m headed back to Nepal in mid-April to give Mount Everest a shot! That’s been a childhood dream of mine. I really wanted to do it ethically and with minimal risks, so I’ve spent the last 3 years planning and preparing and now it’s just a few months away!

Favorite outdoors gear/lifestyle companies? Any local? 

Most my equipment is from Black Diamond. I think they have reasonable prices for the quality of their gear. I wear La Sportiva boots for my big climbs.  

What does conservation mean to you? 

It’s the little things- like walking all your trash off the mountain with you, and not disturbing wildlife just to get a better photo. We need better leadership from the top, but I do hope and trust the next generation of politicians and businesses will understand the value in sustainability. I’m optimistic we’ll see systematic changes in the way we treat our planet during the next decade, but as primarily a consumer, I know I’ll have to be adaptable and get on board with new green initiatives as they become available.   

What can we do to make sure our parks and wild lands stay clean and pure forever? 

Leave the park better than you found it. That could mean donating towards the organizations that sustain and protect the park, or it could mean picking up trash you see left behind from a previous wanderer. Just do something, that way the next generation can enjoy the natural beauty we are so fortunate to have.

Neil, thank you so much for sharing your life experiences and insight with us. I look forward to staying in contact and cannot wait to see the pictures from Everest. The fact that you care about doing this trek in an ethical way is amazing!

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