is an Alzheimer's advocate for individuals, their families and
anyone impacted by this disease through his professional
speaking, climbing and website.His objectives for the Memories are Everything® climbs
Educate the public, especially youth, on the early
warning signs and how to prepare
Increase awareness that Alzheimer's Disease has no
Over $250,000 raised for Alzheimer's
50 million people reached through my climbs
100% of all donations go to Alzheimer's,
none ever to Alan
CURE, always Fatal
• No easy, inexpensive method of early detection
• 3rd leading cause of death in the US
• New case every 68 seconds, 4 seconds worldwide
• Impacts more than 5+m in US, 25m+ worldwide
• Devastating financial burden on families
• Depression higher for caregivers
• Issues are increasing rapidly as population ages
None of the donations go to Alan
or climbing expenses.
This interview was posted on OP
Adventure team's Blog in December 2011. I have added videos that
were not part of the original interview
Having just finished climbing the seven summits plus one, which mountain
was the hardest to climb, easiest to climb and your personal favorite?
Climbing is my passion so I thoroughly enjoyed every moment of each
climb, from sleeping in a wet bag on Carstensz (well almost!) to climbing
in dense clouds and snow on Aconcagua, to standing on each summit.
The summit night on Everest took me to my limits. It was -20F with
strong winds. I only stayed on the summit long enough to post an audio
dispatch to the blog, about 10 minutes.
The easiest was definitely Mt. Kosciuszko in Australia. It is a walk-up
and my last of the climbs. I thoroughly enjoyed it being that New South
Wales is a great part of Australia and I met some fun people on the
It is challenging to pick a favorite since each one had a unique highlight
from culture to weather to teammates to climbing. That said, Vinson
in Antarctica was amazing and of course Everest was, well, Everest.
IIyushin 76 Plane at Union Glacier Antarctica
What is your favorite mountain outside of the Seven Summits to climb
Another tough question. I have been very fortunate to climb on about
30 major expeditions around the world since starting at age 38, yes
a late bloomer! Ama Dablam in Nepal was very special because I thought
it was simply impossible for me given the technical nature of the climb,
my age and the time and money involved. But only a few years after
I first saw it, I summited it.
Ama Dablam, Nepal, 22,494’
Another favorite is my local mountain, Longs Peak in Rocky Mountain
National Park here in Colorado. I have climbed on it more than 100
times and summited it almost every month, more than 25 times. With
a vertical gain higher than a mile, high winds and a varied terrain,
I use it as my training peak.
What is the one piece of gear you would never leave without?
My satellite phone. It is always with me, in my pack, even on the
treks. I call my wife almost daily on my expeditions and use it to
upload my dispatches to my website. A crucial part of every 7 Summit
climb was a call to my website from the summit to send my message of
hope, need and urgency around Alzheimer’s to my followers. While others
celebrated, my first priority was to make my calls, and then I took
in the views and let out a yelp of joy.
How dangerous did you feel the summits were, as an outsider looking
in they seem to be extremely dangerous, but how real does the danger
feel when you are climbing them.
With proper preparation and precautions, alpine mountaineering is
not an excessively dangerous sport. That said, events beyond your control
like avalanches or severe weather take too many lives. I am very careful
not to put myself in those types of situations, if possible.
That said, spending eight days at 17,000 feet on Denali in a four
man tent with three other men waiting for the weather to let up allowing
for a summit push was not dangerous but … well, I don’t want
to do that again!
On a serious note, I have fallen in crevasses, been forced to perform
self arrest while skidding down snow slopes toward thousand foot drop-offs
and have suffered extreme illness, so I am well acquainted with danger
on the mountain.
Camp 3 Lhotse Face Everest
What does it feel like to stand on the summit of the tallest mountain
in the world?
Big and cold! I felt tiny up there looking over the highest peaks
on earth and watching the sun rise. I was very humbled thinking about
my mom and our cause. It was a very emotional moment. I made the climb
from the South Col in about 7:30 hours, a very fast time for me. It
was hard, especially the slabs above the Balcony. Once I reached the
South Summit, I knew I would make it in spite of the strong winds.
I was equally careful on the descent.
Alan Arnette on Everest Summit
What are your other hobbies when not climbing?
I spend my time fundraising for Alzheimer’s through speaking. I also
stay busy spending time on my mountains and climbing, then posting
my adventures on my
website. I also enjoy spending time with my wife, Cathy, and our
two cats, Max and Mimi!
How You Did It
How were you able to complete such a task in such a short period
When I started to think about this project, I knew I needed large
scale, professional support to reach millions of people to raise awareness
and money for Alzheimer’s. This was about the cause, not the climbs,
so I was gratified when the AIP joined to help promote the project
on a global scale.
How does one prepare for these types of high altitude climbs both
mentally and physically and how did you know you were ready?
I climbed about 30 of my Colorado 14,000’ (14ers) throughout the previous
12 months, each with a 40lb pack. Along with the physical training
this provided, it allowed me to think deeply about my purpose and gave
me an extra oomph to keep going – mental toughness. I often say
there are a thousand reasons to turn back and only one to keep going – I
found my one.
Climbing can be a selfish sport. I had attempted Everest three previous
times reaching about 27,200’ before health, weather or my own judgment
caused me to turn back. Each time was a learning experience that I
brought with me on these climbs. It is amazing how far we can push
our bodies. I think extreme alpine mountaineering is at least 50% mental
so these experiences were key to climbing more than 100,000 vertical
feet on eight mountains on seven continents in 11 months.
Climbing the 16K ridge on Denali
Why You Did It
Talk a little about why you felt lead to climb the Seven Summits
in support of Alzheimer’s.
I took early retirement from 30 years with Hewlett-Packard to oversee
the care of my mom, Ida, as she went through the last three years of
Alzheimer’s disease. As I saw my mother struggle with Alzheimer’s,
I felt helpless. I knew I had to do something to raise awareness and
funds. With such a big problem, it needed a big project to get attention,
thus, a huge goal of climbing the highest point one each continent
in under a year.
My goal was to reach millions of people worldwide with a message of
hope, need and urgency about Alzheimer’s. Hope that
progress was being made for early detection, improved treatments and,
of course, a cure. Need that
Alzheimer’s destroys finances and family caregivers’ lives, who are
the silent victims with their sacrifices. All this and in addition
it takes the lives of individuals, and there is no cure. Urgency that
AD is increasing very quickly. In the US, one person developed Alzheimer’s
every 70 seconds a year ago and now it is every 69 seconds. More than
450,000 people were diagnosed with the disease during the 11 months
I climbed the mountains.
How successful do you feel doing this has been on your ability to
raise awareness for Alzheimer’s?
After 58 flights, 116,112 miles flown, 120 time zones crossed, 201
nights away from home, 101,058 feet climbed on eight mountains on seven
continents, more than 29 million people heard the message of hope,
need and urgency around Alzheimer’s. While I feel good about
our results, it is just the beginning.
Where can people donate and how do you suggest they get involved?
Until we have a cure, a better treatment, earlier diagnosis and family
caregiver support, funding will be a critical need. Any size of a donation
is always welcome and sincerely appreciated. Visit our site at www.climb4ad.com,
Facebook page at www.facebook.com/Climb4AD or
my site at www.alanarnette.com and
click on the donate button. You can select from our three campaign
supporters and donate directly through their websites. Remember, 100%
of donations go to Alzheimer’s and none ever to me.
Alan with the natives in West Papua New Guinea
for Carstensz Pyramid
Anything else you would like to close with?
Support from my followers was crucial to this project. The emails
and donations that came as a result of touching people with our message
kept me going. When I got home from Everest, I was told that Friday
night parties were interrupted when someone talked about my climb and
they all went to a PC to follow my GPS tracker to the summit. They
then listened almost live as I sent out our message and I dedicated
the summit to my mom and all moms.
Find your passion and link it to a personal effort to make a difference.
I was very gratified by the reaction from my fellow climbers throughout
these eight climbs in that many of them had gone through what I had
and they fully supported me and the cause. When they returned home,
they encouraged their friends and families to make donations and to
learn the warning signs – and that is what this was all about.
With the devastation this disease brings to individuals, finances
and families, Alzheimer’s must take center stage in healthcare. Every
69 seconds a new case develops in the US alone. As a society, we are
not prepared for the Alzheimer’s tsunami so I will continue to raise
awareness, educate people and raise money for research through more
adventures and speaking to whomever will listen.
Alan at the Tyrolean Traverse on Carstensz
Thanks again to Alan for taking the time out to talk to us about this.
Make sure to follow his adventures and speaking engagements on his
blog and also share this post with your friends and family so that
we can keep the message of Alzheimer’s awareness going strong.
About Josh of the OutdoorPros Adventure Team
My name is Josh and I am an fan of the outdoors. On the weekends you
will find me hiking or trying to complete any of the numerous adventures
I have on my list. I live in Southern California and love the diversity
that allows me to have in my daily life. I am part of the OutdoorPros
Adventure Team. I also love photography and you can find me blogging
photos of California.
www.alanarnette.com is provided for informational purposes only and not to be used for advice. see complete disclaimer