While First Endurance Ambassador Gregory Deyermenjian isn’t a ‘typical’ athlete, his cardio-vascular capacity is a critical component of his ability to pursue his adventures while trying to reach his exploratory goals. Deyermenjian has been exploring the legendary Incan lost city of Paititi that is thought to lie hidden in the rainforests of Peru. The legend of Paititi was inspired by the culture-hero Inkarri, who founded the city of Cusco, Peru and was believed to have lived out his days in the jungles in the city of Paititi. Deyermenjian knows that adventures like this require physical fitness akin to elite athletes and he leaves nothing to chance in order to find success in his venture.
About Greg Deyermenjian
My interest in exploration for lost cities within Peru developed as the logical conclusion of a long-term process. From my earliest days, I was enchanted by dreams of far-off places and had an interest in being an astronaut, which later developed into me wanting to be an explorer. Then, in university, I studied anthropology, subsequently following the “Gringo Trail” as a “hippie traveler” through Colombia, Ecuador, and Central America. Upon return to Massachusetts, I began working as direct care staff in the field of mental retardation/developmental disabilities. I earned a degree in psychology/special education/severe special needs and worked within the state system. But I never forgot my first love, which was exploration, archaeology, and anthropology. I retired in October of 2011, in order to have additional time to work more diligently on writing my book on the investigation into the Legend of Paititi and the lost cities of the Inca. In time, I found I needed a place to go to each day, to do good work alongside colleagues, and with people in need of my services, to feel more closely fulfilled. So, for the past five years, when not on expedition, or with my Peruvian wife or with my two children, I’ve been back working in the special needs field, as well as teaching English as a second language in the evenings.
Since 1984, I have been exploring the unexplored and broken territory to the north of Cusco, Peru, seeking answers to the riddle posed by the legend of the lost city of “Paititi.” In this effort, we have been following the rough path left by what had once been the “Road of Stone” that features in the legend of the culture-hero who followed it to the legendary Paititi. The road, and its route through the frigid mountains and dense cloud forests, is unmapped, and to just where it finally leads, is a question thus far without an answer. The areas through which we have been pushing are the ultimate in being broken and difficult, with repeated seemingly endless ascents, through frigid highlands, followed by dizzying descents, at altitudes of 10,000 to 13,500 feet, followed by periods of pushing our way through dense cloud forest. Through these efforts, we have uncovered various Incan and pre-Incan sites, but it is what may lie at the end of that Incan road, that most impels me onward.
Training and Preparation
On the first interminable high pass encountered in walking “The Inca Trail” to Machu Picchu in 1980, I was confronted with the fact that if I were to go further in hiking and exploring the Andes, it was necessary to get back to taking seriously the area of physical fitness. And so, my physical and mental preparations have continued from that time through to the present, always preparing for la próxima expedición (the next expedition). I work out all year round. I have found that unless I constantly endeavor to stay in shape while here at home, it will be impossible to make the expeditions and explorations that I must make. The Peruvian Campesinos (peasants) from highland Peru, and the forest-dwelling natives that we connect with on the other side of the easternmost ranges of the Andes, all basically “work out” 365 days a year, for many hours each day, just in all the daily physical tasks in which they must engage for survival—walking up and down hills carrying heavy loads vast distances, chasing their cattle over bleak and endless high grasslands, cutting down trees in the forest, building huts, planting and cultivating jungle plots, hunting, fishing, gathering, crossing raging rivers, etc. Additionally, and equally significantly, the people of the Andes and adjacent areas have evolved over many generations such that they are perfectly suited for physical exertion at high altitude: their lung capacity is far greater, and they have many more red blood corpuscles, for the extraction of oxygen from the thin air of the highlands. For me to just be able to keep up with them takes all the physical and mental preparation I can muster.
All year round I follow an eclectic regimen of long-distance power-walking around the nearby lake, while wearing a 40-pound weight vest, including as many hills as I can find; various weight-lifting exercises especially for legs and buttocks and back; “farmers-walks” in the back yard carrying a 50-pound dumbbell in each hand; and with a step ladder ever at the ready in my living room for weighted step-ups. I start each morning with 1,000 jumps and punches. And I frequently throw in some “Kata” from my years of practicing Okinawan Goju-Ryu Karate.
Many people think I must be a masochist to work out so much and to be as rigid as I am with diet and with supplements such as especially, OptygenHP. But, the truth is, that I do all those things so as to AVOID more pain and exhaustion when expedition time comes.
I had been constantly looking for something to really target long-distance endurance, since the total and debilitating fatigue of carrying a heavy pack up and down, over and along various mountain ranges for many endless hours, day after day after day, is the primary difficulty to be encountered (along with the constant state of discomfort from bug bites and dirty, sweaty, conditions, but which is secondary to the fatigue). I was drawn to OptygenHP on a shelf at my local Vitamin Shoppe. When I saw its ingredients, and its recommendation that it “should be used consistently over many months of training” and that “If you start taking OptygenHP a week before an event, benefits will be minimal,” I knew that it was SERIOUS, and that it warranted a good try from me. So I began taking it, week after week, month after month, and even year after year. The most recent expedition I made, in July of 2016, during which we brought a drone to the highest point we had reached in 2004, in order to send it forth for seeking a passage through the further broken territory beyond, was the most difficult ever; during that expedition we celebrated my 67th birthday; and none of my Peruvian and Brazilian expedition partners, all of whom were primarily in their 20s and 30s, with one in his 40s, could believe that I could be still there, right alongside them. I know that a part of my ability to continue doing what I love, is attributable to the long-lasting, ongoing effects of the specific collection of ingredients in OptygenHP.
After a trek to Vilcabamba in 1981, I began organizing and leading the almost yearly “Paititi Expeditions” that brought my Peruvian and native expedition partners and myself into unknown territory around the unexplored upper reaches of the western Amazon basin. As a non-native foreigner, without any involvement in the Peruvian/Andean history of urban-rural, Andean-Amazonian, or Creole-Native conflict, I have found that my honesty, generosity, and kindness to people there of all types was repaid with trust, and with on-the-ground assistance, before, during, and after each expedition, that is absolutely priceless. My principal interest was that of the exploration of the forest-covered mountains and hills to the east and north of Cusco, Peru. I found that it was there that, because of such vast expanses of remote, inaccessible, and difficult territory containing so many undocumented archaeological sites, important and very interesting things could be discovered and documented—if one had enough energy, determination, and almost crazy single-mindedness. And each time, I would get a bit further “under the surface” of life there in those areas, and with its native peoples. And, always piecing together an analysis of the reality of “The Paititi Legend,” that of the yet to be determined ultimate Incan site still lying in wait, somewhere beyond the Andes…