Backpacker Radio 115 | Scott Carney on Wim Hof, Summiting Kilimanjaro, and Debunking Charlatans

In today’s episode of Backpacker Radio presented by The Trek, we are joined by Scott Carney.  Scott‘s early career as an investigative journalist had him debunking fake gurus and charlatans.  When he was put on assignment by Playboy Magazine more than a decade ago to do the same with a Dutch daredevil- named Wim Hof- Scott assumed this would be more of the same.  What ensued was Scott being enthralled by Wim, his famous breathing and cold exposure techniques, as well as the circus that surrounded the Wim Hof experience.  We talk all about Scott‘s time with Wim, what it was like to summit Kilimanjaro with him in just 28 hours (when it typically takes closer to 5 days), how Wim is potentially becoming more of a charlatan today, and much more.  I found this conversation to be fascinating, I hope you do too.

We wrap the show with Chaunce having an undesirable virus, a debate on the proper number of times to knot your shoelaces, a triple crown of toys from when we were young, and much more.

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Interview with Scott Carney:

00:07:05 – QOTD: What’s the coldest you’ve ever been?

00:16:00 – How did you get into investigative journalism? 

00:20:33 – You mentioned trekking around Nepal — what kind of trekking were you doing?

Content warning: Discussion of suicide.

00:21:13 – So can you talk about how you specifically became involved with debunking fake gurus and charlatains? 

00:24:09 – Is it mostly westerners that the effects you were studying impacted? 

End content warning.

00:25:08 – Were people literally watching a corpse rot? 

00:28:42 – Is Tantra tied to psychotropic breathing at all?

00:29:27 – Is there anything else you want to add about your career of debunking gurus? Would you say it’s more so tied to philosophy or the people? 

00:32:22 – Why is there a theme of gurus having sex with people? 

00:35:48 – How did you get set up on the assignment to debunk Wim Hof? 

00:37:13 – Have people ever died of hypothermia trying to do this? 

00:38:31 – Did you keep an open mind at all? Or were you sure Wim Hof was a fake? 

00:39:00 – Is drinking part of the retreats?

00:40:52 – Can you pinpoint what opened your mind to him when you were learning about Wim’s methods? 

00:45:00 – Read Scott’s book — ”What Doesn’t Kill You”

00:48:50 – What about Wim Hof is so compelling? 

00:51:50 – Did the results of the study on Wim Hof’s techniques surprise you or catch you off guard? 

00:53:44 – Can you explain the physiological response that happens when you do the breathing? 

00:57:55 – How important would you say the meditation process is after doing a few rounds of the Wim Hof method?

01:00:00 – Do you still practice daily?

01:02:20 – Do you do the breathing and cold in conjuncture?

01:02:50 – What’s the name of your fancy ice bath?

01:05:20 – Are you supposed to try to visualize something warm? Or do you just take the cold head on?

01:05:50 – Do you think it’s a physical adaptation or a mental adaptation? 

01:09:14 – What is that line in terms of finding your limits?
01:10:33 – Is brown fat more activated by bare skin exposure? Rather than when clothed? 

01:11:05 – Can you accumulate more brown fat via cold exposure? And how does that relate to the wedge? 

01:13:00 – Wim Hof has a twin brother — do they have similar amounts of brown fat?

01:16:07 – Is there a performance benefit to these methods? 

01:19:31 – What is the application of the breathing technique and cold exposure for people doing long distance hikes? 

01:23:51 – Take us through the story of how you eventually went back to Europe and then Africa to hike Kilimanjaro with Wim Hof? 

01:25:27 – And you guys were going for a record? 

01:26:39 – What is the average time for a summit of Mt.Kilimanjaro?

01:26:51 – Were you doing the breathing technique the whole time you were hiking or during breaks?

01:27:04 – When you do the practice at home do you do it the same way each time? Do you ever use nostril breathing?

01:28:00 – Wim likes your book even though there’s a chapter that doesn’t look at him in the most favorable way? 

01:34:16 – Have you ever thought about approaching Wim about how people are taking his methods out of context?

01:36:24 – Is there a book in the intertwined nature of social media and putting people on pedestals?

01:36:58 – Can you talk about your books? 

01:38:53 – So you do a macro dose of MDMA with psychiatrists? 

01:39:45 – Is your book an audio book?

01:40:00 – If you had to pick one element from The Wedge as very beneficial, what would it be? 

01:41:01 – You also posted recently about The Vortex? 



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Comments 2

  • Don Neder : Aug 13th

    Loved the podcast with Scott Carney. I’m an instructor for Wim Hof and have always appreciated Scott’s view of both Wim and the method. Besides teaching Wim Hof Method classes, this year I started out to hike the AT and will say that both the Wim Hof Method and The Wedge were instrumental in my day to day success. As you know mindset is critical to success.

    From using the WHM daily I have built an incredible mindset so that I KNEW that I would successfully hike the AT. I’ve trained the subconscious mind and do not let it dictate my decisions. At the same time, similar to what Scott described when climbing Mt Killamanjaro, I used my breath to move up and down the mountains of the AT. I’m 67 and was able to hike past those much younger than me when going up hill. My lungs and circulatory system are strong and combined with the deep breathing I was able to keep my legs going (good use of The Wedge as well).

    Unfortunately, on a fall I had in the Smoky Mountains, I tore my left rotator cuff. I was able to go another 400 miles with no issues but on a trip home to be with my daughter who was having a baby, an MRI showed the tear. Ended up having surgery so will have to complete the trail next year.

    I write to let people know that the WHM can be an awesome tool to learn as you prepare to hike the AT. You will build not only the mindset you need but will also physically strengthen your lungs, circulatory system and will be awesome dealing with the cold!

    If someone is planning to hike the AT I highly recommend practicing the Wim Hof Method leading up to your hike.


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