Jeffrey’s Story 

As the first person with rheumatoid arthritis to climb to the summit of Mount Everest, Jeffrey is inspiring others with his disease. He’s on a mission to help others with arthritis reach their goals. 

Jeffrey Gottfurcht is the first person in the entire world with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) to climb to the summit of Mount Everest. At 27, he was diagnosed with RA. In his early 20s, He had periodically experienced stiff joints and swollen fingers, knees and wrists. He had stiff joints. He thought these were merely allergic reactions or sports injuries. 

Finally, a specialist confirmed the diagnosis. In 2002, Jeffrey’s symptoms significantly advanced, causing him severe swelling and stiffness in his knees, toes, elbows, all his fingers and even his jaw. An avid mountain climber, Jeffrey decided he could not just give in to the disease. With a can-do attitude, he committed to training for and climbing mountains around the world. He was preparing to fulfill his number one goal of making an attempt on Mount Everest in 2010. 

Unfortunately, he had to turn back at 23,000 feet due to sickness. With fierce determination and unwavering commitment, Jeff returned in 2011 to Mount Everest. Against incredible odds, he finally stood on top of the world at 29,035 feet. He speaks across the country to help inspire, motivate and energize those who face adversity. Jeff started his career in finance and became a sponsored climber, allowing him to scale mountains all over the world. 

Jeff spends his free time with his wife and watching their three kids grow. He is a proud member of the board of directors for the Arthritis Foundation Northern California. He lives his life by saying Yes despite his pain.