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Climbing the World to End Alzheimer's
Apr 032011

Honestly, I am not sure how to start this dispatch. Today was a day full of emotions.

I was woken up by the low drone of horns played in unison, almost like millions of bees flying past; only occasionally interrupted by a clash of a cymbal. The soothing sounds were coming from a nearby Monastery here in Namche. The sounds reverberated throughout the earth and rock walls of the natural horseshoe amphitheater holding this tiny village and into my small lodge room.

I laid in bed listening to the horns and the Monks chanting letting it sink it where I was and why I was here. Today was to be a special day with our team climbing to a vantage point and hopefully seeing Everest for the first time on the expedition.

I went to the teahouse dining room to join the rest of the team im to finish breakfast and get going fearing the clouds would move in obscuring our views. But we moved quickly and got on the trail. We climbed steadily above Namche looking back occasionally as the views kept getting better and better.

Our team was once again chatty as we moved higher. I like these dynamics. It is a relaxed group of trekkers, climbers, guides and Sherpa with lots of fun and jokes and, smiles. But once we turned a corner near 12,000′ high above Namche, the group became silent. Mt. Everest came into full view.

A huge plume blew from east to west indicating summit winds in excess of 100 mph. Impressive peaks consumed the horizon as wide as our peripheral vision.

I stood quietly for a moment as our team erupted with cheers at the view combined with gasps and a few tears. As one person simply said. “I have been dreaming of this since the sixth grade.” As I glanced into my teammates faces, I saw my own. I saw my dreams, my experiences, my emotions. And I felt my memories come to the surface.

Alan with Everest over his left Shoulder

I remember the time I told my mom I was climbing Everest in 2008. She was in her late phases of Alzheimer’s but smiled big and simply said, “Good luck!” We both laughed. The next time I spoke with her, a day later, she asked how my climb was. I told her it was a few months away and I would tell her when I got back. We repeated this conversation daily until I left.

I looked carefully at Everest, retracing my steps from previous climbs. This time I looked with confidence; with purpose.

We had some snacks on the picnic tables at the Everest View Hotel and then left to visit some nearby villages and visit a monastery that supposedly had a Yeti skull.

Ama Dablam

As we made our way through the Khumbu countryside, Ama Dablam stood high and proud.

Another memory was evoked as I looked on carefully. This was a mountain that when I saw it, I quickly dismissed it as beyond my ability. One year later I stood on the summit giving me the confidence that anything was possible.

We meandered through the village of Khumjung. Women tended the fields harvesting an early potato crop while men worked diligently on another building. Both used simple tools and the labor of their commitment.

We visited the monastery, over 500 years old, and saw the skull. But it was the century old prayer books carefully stored in protective cubbies that occupied our thoughts.

As we moved around the villages, the school kids were all about. Some were shy about having their picture taken but quickly laughed with ease as we showed themselves on our digital cameras.

A Lifetime of Memories

As I left the monastery, I saw an old woman sitting alone in a chair against her white stone walled house. I looked at her and said Namaste, which literally means “bow me you” or “I bow to you.” But is a common greeting to simply say hello.

She smiled a huge smile and volunteered a gentle laugh. She repeated Namaste and then Hello! I pointed to my camera to ask permission to take her picture and

she smiled even larger. I took a few and opened the short wooden gate separating us and keeping the yaks out of her potato field.

I walked up to her and repeated the greeting which she returned with comfort. I held my camera in front of her wrinkled and shaking hands. She reached out and touched my had to steady her view. As she looked at herself, she let out another giggle accompanied by a huge smile. I gently put my hand on her frail shoulder. I looked in her old eyes.

What had this woman seen in her life, what had she lived, what were her memories?

Tomorrow we leave for Deboche and stay there for two nights. We are leaving the land of easy and fast internet so I will not be able to post as many pictures.

Climb On!

Memories are Everything

Namche Bazaar

Spinning the Prayer Wheels

The Yeti's Skull

Women Harvesting Potato's

Men Building

Khumbu Kids

Everyone likes to see their picture!



  20 Responses to “Memories of Everest First View”

  1. We are so touched with the beautiful pictures you are posting. Our son Jonathan is on this trek to base camp and I know that this is a fantastic experience for him! Keep safe.

  2. Beautifully written post. Reminds me of the awe I felt the first time I saw Everest in 2006 from the top of the hill in Namche. I’m looking forward to following the rest of your saga!

  3. Fantastic writing!What a climb!I am captured and have always had a love for everest.and yes memories are everything…thanks Alan this may be your time to summit…may your dreams be attained!!

  4. Great report, Alan. And Rita’s comment truly touched me…

  5. Great reports Alan, we are all with you in spirit every inch of the way. Take good care my friend. Namaste!

  6. Thanks for the news and pics, Alan. Say hello to Zach Z for me. Larry Zaitzeff in Seattle.

  7. Magnificent……a word so inadequate to describe your journey……be safe…stay strong…climb on!

  8. Thinking of the handful of Everest accounts I’ve read, one of my favorite parts is hearing the climbers recount their first view of the peak as they approach on foot. It is always so mesmerizing. Thanks for taking the time to share these key moments with all of us.

  9. Alan.. this post seemed to touch me the most… maybe because it reminded me of the 1st time I saw Everest from that same spot……maybe because the reality of why you are there is coming into a sharper focus upon seeing your challenge…… maybe because EXACTLY 6 months ago today it was a lovely warm Sunday evening when I was alone, holding my own mother as she took her final breath & passed over from the disease you are dedicating your energy towards. Climb On !

  10. I am reliving the trek into base through your eyes and stories. Thank you for sharing memories of things I hold so near and dear to my heart. Experience it all again, and enjoy.

  11. Wow… I agree. Beautifully written. Im in Ahhh!

  12. Alan, thank you for continuing message of how important memories are to us all.

    Hey everyone, if you haven’t already, I urge you to donate at:

    Come home safe, Alan.


  13. I saw that same view today on the way up to Kunde for lunch. First time for me seeing Ama Dablam, Lhotse and Everest among others… Simply breathtaking.
    Keep up the great blog, looking forward to more as your journey continues.

  14. Thank you for all the posts!

  15. Alan,
    I have been following your Everest coverage for several years now and have always enjoyed it, thank you for bringing the mountain and culture to my sofa. I have to say that thus far these posts are amazing. I look forward to receiving the email notification of your new posts and being brought there via your descriptions.

  16. Great post Alan. Looks windy up top. Please send my best to all there. Enjoy!

  17. Love reading your posts and watchinf your photos from the Khumbu Alan! Brings back memories for me too 🙂 I hope to go back in 2013.

    Best of luck to you on this project! I’ll be cheering you on!

  18. A beautifully-written entry, Alan — thanks. Happy trekking onwards to Base. We are cheering you on from QECVI!

  19. Great post and photos Alan.