When I started to leave the 17, 200 High Camp on Denali without standing on the summit, I wondered; how would people consider this effort. One person characterized it this way:
“Alan, sorry to hear of the failure, but safety first. Safe travels home.”
After spending eight days watching the swirling hurricane-force winds on the summit; it was safety first. We never got an opportunity to try to summit. It would have been suicide at most of the time.
Denali, well known for some of the harshest weather for climbers, had shown her stuff. Of all my 7 Summits climbs, I knew this one (after Everest; which I had summited the previous month) was the most risky. I could control my preparation, my health but not the weather.
So what was this effort: a failure or a “non-summit”?
Well obviously for me it was not a failure. I believe that every person I reached with the message of hope, need and urgency around Alzheimer’s is one person more than if I didn’t try. I see a climb similar to research where not every effort results in achieving it’s goal but it does lead to new learnings and that has immense value. Besides, not trying is simply not an option.
However, beyond all the climbing, my 7 Summits effort is about Alzheimer’s awareness and fundraising; not summits. I asked for a pledge of a penny a foot for every foot I climbed or $131 for Denali to one of the three non-profits. I was 3,000’ short making it $101 but everyone made the full pledge as if I had summited – so Denali is a summit for me!
I am humbled and motivated by your reaction to my climbs. I will always do my for every Alzheimer’s family, researcher, support and my followers.
Memories are Everything