K2: What Can One Person Do?

K2 MessageWhat can one person do to make a difference in this world? Many would say not much so why try. I simply don’t accept that premise.

Each day since 2003, drugstore the last 11 years, I have learned more and more about Alzheimer’s and the devastation it takes on individuals, and perhaps more importantly, their families and their caregivers.

This came into crystal clear focus that day in 2006 when my own mom looked at me and asked “Now, who are you again?” My life was changed that day. My purpose became clear.

My Passion is climbing. My Purpose is Alzheimer’s.

With the generous support of Janssen Alzheimer’s Immunotherapry, I went on to climb the 7 Summits in 2011 reaching 30 million people with a message of Hope, Need and Urgency. I met with Congress in October 2011 imploring them to increase funding for research, simplify the tax code for home caregiving and educate the public on this horrific disease.

Now years later, we have made progress but nothing near what is needed. Promising drugs and therapies have proven ineffective. New figures reveal an alarming increase in the death rate making Alzheimer’s now the third leading cause of death, right after cancer and heart disease.

However, the public, and Congress, seems to have lost interest. The will to fight seems to have lost its steam – for some.

Rather than surrender, it is time to double down.

K2 from Broad PeakNow with the incredible support of Abila, Inc, I will attempt the hardest mountain in the world, K2, to support the fight against, the hardest disease, Alzheimer’s. They are supporting me as one individual trying to make a difference in this world, nothing more.

I know, I know – K2? Alan, what are you thinking, and at the age of 57. To be candid, I am perfectly clear on the risks, the reasons, the Purpose of this climb.

My summit of Everest in 2011 proved many things to me. My 2013 summit of Manaslu, the 8th highest mountain at 26,759′ (8,156 m) and ice climbing on Alpamayo at 19,511′ (5,947 m), confirmed any doubts I might have had about my ability to perform at altitude.

My experience with caregivers, researchers and non-profits have confirmed any doubts I might have had about my Purpose.

I asked myself, if not now, when? If not K2, what?

Baltaro GlacierYes, I could attempt an easier, a safer mountain. I could be conservative, play it safe. But that is not what it is going to take to make a difference.

K2 is close and personal for me in ways I rarely discuss. I was on Broad Peak, a stones throw away from K2, in 2006 so I know the area well. It was on this trip I first saw K2 and wondered if and then when. It was also on this trip I met Ger McDonnell whom I came to admire and call my friend. He died on K2 in 2008 trying to save the lives of others.

I am going with a small team of proven professionals. Garrett Madison is leading the team. He has taken more people to the summit of Everest than any other guide. Even though this will not be guided in the traditional sense, I am grateful to Garrett for his leadership in organizing the expedition.

Also, I am thrilled that Kami Sherpa, whom I summited Everest with in 2011 will once again be at my side. Kami has been to K2. I could not have asked a better team. We leave in late June 2014.

The expedition will start with a week long trek up the Baltro Glacier to Concordia, a spot on the glacier where I will turn to my left to see K2 standing proud. We will go through the normal acclimatization rotations and establish high camps before attempting the summit when the weather allows. This is the wild card for K2 as it is known for horrible weather that can last weeks on end. Patience will be key.

K2 has the second highest death per summit rate of any of the 14 eight-thousand meter mountains.  Only 306 people have successfully summited and 81 have died. That is a 26% summit to death ratio or 1 in 4. The causes of deaths lead with falls, then avalanches, altitude illness and then disappearance. Yes, this is a serious climb often called the Mountaineer’s Mountain.

People ask if I am afraid. The answer is I have utmost respect for K2 and understand the dangers. Fear, properly harnessed is a great motivator. As I say, climbing the world’s hardest mountain to fight the world’s hardest disease.

Who Benefits?

Alan and IdaClearly, I want to climb K2 and that will feed my passion as a mountaineer. But there is more to this than a climb. Once again, I want to honor those with Alzheimer’s and their caregivers through raising awareness and funds for research.

I am teaming with Us Against Alzheimer’s (USA2) for my advocacy work. Their work in Washington is unparalleled in getting Congress to increase research funding, caregiver support and education. I strongly believe it will take a “Manhattan style project” approach between the public and private sectors to make a break though. USA2 calls for a cure by 2020, aggressive and justified.

I’m also teaming with the Cure Alzheimer’s Fund, whom I worked with since 2008. They have made world-class breakthroughs in with research looking at the root causes of Alzheimer’s and I’m proud to work with them again.

Both organizations are funded so that 100% of your donations go to the cause and none to overhead. Also, to be clear, none of your contributions ever go to me to cover climbing expenses.

Other organizations including Beating Alzheimer’s by Embracing Science and the Alzheimer’s Association are making valued contributions toward beating Alzheimer’s and helping caregivers and I continue to strongly support them but for this climb, we will track donations to USA2 and Cure Alzheimer’s only.

Join the Team, Join the Fight

Climbing HandsThanks to Abila’s software, we will be asking for teams to follow my climb and raise money for Alzheimer’s. You can sign up as a fund raiser (and set your own goals), become a team caption and lead a team of fundraisers, or just make a simple donation now. Any amount helps. I just ask you to make a donation that is meaningful to you.

I will be posting live updates during the climb on this website. I hope to include many more pictures and videos than on my previous climbs and take you into the climb like never before.

We will have exciting raffle prizes at different donation levels, including some of the gear I use. After the climb, there will be two fund raising events where I will show pictures and videos from the climb. We are looking at San Diego and Boston. If you are interested in hosting a fund raising event, please contact me.

For anyone who contribute $1,000 or more, I will call you from K2 Base Camp with a personal update and a personal thank you.

So, I will attempt the hardest mountain on Earth to try and capture the world’s attention that Alzheimer’s is a disease that must be stopped.

Will you join me? Click here to get started.

Climb On!
Memories are Everything

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40 thoughts on “K2: What Can One Person Do?

  1. You must be well fit and ready to go by now. Alan, I don’t know you other than via this blog. I do want you to succeed and I know you recognise that this is a lot lot harder than Everest. As the saying goes “Getting up is optional; getting down is mandatory” and I am sure you will have learned the lessons of previous years. But don’t be afraid to say “enough” if necessary. Sorry to sound a bit nervy on your behalf – I am sure you have done everything possible to ensure a successful outcome but mountain climbing is not a sport where doing everything is always enough! Stay safe!

    1. Thank you Anne, I appreciate your thoughts, comments and concern – seriously. My goal is to do my best and take what the mountain will give me. I turned back on my own from my first three attempts on Everest so I know what it feels like when it is the “right thing to do”.

      By setting this very difficult goal for myself, I hope that others will follow and learn a bit about Alzheimer’s and what they can do to make a difference. We are all in this together, and there is so much that needs to be done so other families don’t go through what mine did; and future generations can live a long life without the threat of this disease.

      1. Thanks for not taking offence at what could be construed as negative comments by myself. I really would not dream of giving you advice but just wanted to say I know that this is going to be a cold difficult climb and no shame if you cannot make it and turn back for your own safety. I imagine it is not always so easy to turn back when you have loads of people cheering and wanting you to go for it not to mention your own wish to make money for Alzheimers research.

        I too have seen Alzheimers and what it can do to family members so will be donating to the cause. Not a lot as I have to juggle my pension payments. I will be following you all the way.

  2. Hey Alan, Good Luck! I Had Lunch With You And Went To Your Presentation Last Year. I ClimBed Rainer With Garret. He Is An Awesome guide. I Look Forward Up You’re Blogs And Pictures. Be Safe. Tom

  3. Alan, Can people go to Everest Base Camp in a wheelchair ? Since I have M.S I will never climb Everest , but I would someday like to go to Base Camp , Im not climber Im watcher Karen

  4. Alan the very best of luck good Sir. You are an absolute soldier for both mountaineering and Alzheimer’s. We will all be rooting for you and come back safely 🙂

  5. Alan, I’d like to humbly request that you do an interview before this trip. Could you please report on how excited is your wife about this trip? Best of luck!

  6. Alan-I donated and I cheer you on for using your strengths to help others. Much success to you on your climb!

  7. Thanks for sharing, Alan. I have a better understanding of what drives you. My honor to support you and the efforts to find a cure for Alzheimer’s. I’ll be following. Climb on.

  8. Alan, We are holding positive thoughts for your safety and success; and will be following you every step of the way! #ENDAlz!

  9. Thank you Ellen – you made my day. I so value our friendship and your support as a fellow climber in so many ways. Your support will get me up K2 to send a message of hope, need and urgency on behalf of Alzheimer’s.

  10. Thanks MC, you have always been there for me. I believe things are only impossible when there is doubt. I believe we can find a cure for Alzheimer’s. I believe we can improve support for caregivers. I believe I can summit K2 and bring a message of Hope. Need and Urgency to this world. And yes, I believe I will be wearing the right hat 🙂

  11. Alan. Great to read exactly what you are up to (I like the team). It amazes me and yet it makes perfect sense. Will be donating…
    My theme song for you (oh and what hat will you be wearing)? :)http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7YBeepShsgo

  12. Thank you Courtney Petros for becoming a Team Captain to honor your Grandfather and support a cure for #Alzheimer’s and support for caregivers.

  13. Thank you Alan for all you do for Alzheimer’s. I am really pleased and excited to be part of your climb and have made my small donation. Good luck and come home safe. Niki xx

  14. Thanks Patrick, I thought long and hard about my next project and reached the same conclusion – climb the world’s toughest mountain for the world’s toughest disease. This will test me in ways I can’t imagine but nothing compared to what caregivers and Alzheimer’s s endure.

  15. Forwarding to all contacts…made a small contribution in memory of my Uncle Max and Uncle Phil. Hope to do more later.

  16. This seems to have become buried with all the comments and controversy on climbing Nepal at any cost. As it is Alan who tirelessly works for the benefit of us all to maintain this site, I think it is only fitting that we move away from the current controversy when there is really nothing new to report and give due time and respect to what Alan is now doing.

      1. Oh Alan, please please edit the post. Due time is so much less bad mojo than die time! Have a triumphant climb, may all of you come home safe.

  17. After being one of your avid followers/readers for the last five or so years, I finally made a donation through a link on your site last month. It wasn’t much, but it was what I could afford to send for now. It made me feel good knowing that 100% was going directly to those who need it most.

    With that in mind I also wanted you toremember the following…

    This evening as I reviewed your latest update on Everest, as well as your future plans for K2, I can’t help but think of both your Mom and mine. As a Mom myself, I will only ask that you, and Kami take the very best care of yourselves, and eachother as you attempt this mountain. We moms of the world want our adult children to live full and happy lives, and to follow their dreams no matter what those dream may be. I just know that both your mom and mine would say be careful! Come home safe! Climb smart!

    I will think of you every single day until you return safely home to your family….. I may even be holding my breath in some ways until you are safely off K2.

    1. Thank you Kim for the thoughts and the donation. That is why I do what I do. Yes,t his will be the biggest challenge of my climbing career but I feel I am ready and with a great support team, but thank you for your breath holding – I will be doing the same! 🙂

  18. Yea! I’ve been waiting for you to begin! Thanks. I will start canvasing around to see at what level I may be able to support. It may only be a contribution, but your updates and the need for research/cure makes that worthwhile anyway.

    Be safe!

    1. Thanks Beth. The idea is to create teams of any size to raise awareness and funds of any amount – it doesn’t matter how big or small it all will help as it goes 100% to Alzheimer’s efforts. Also we can have some fun with this with friendly competition.

      1. Alan did you see that report last week on 60 mins on Alzheimer , it was done here in Calif at UCI in orange , very inlighten on what they found out Bye for now Karen

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