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.
Now 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?
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.
Clearly, 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
Thanks 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.
Memories are Everything