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Climbing the World to End Alzheimer's
Dec 292010

As this holiday season draws to an end, I am reminded of the new and old memories that comes with this time of year. Have you ever heard of “nuts and bolts”; also known as Party Mix? It was a holiday tradition as I grew up. It marked the official beginning of the holiday season when my mom would spend a Saturday afternoon cooking this incredible concoction.

The was pretty simple: Corn Chex, Rice Chex, Cheerios, pretzels, butter and Worcestershire sauce. Oh did I say butter? And her special addition were several cups of pecan halves. I remember seeing the cereal boxes spread out on our tiny kitchen counter, a large baking pan smeared with, you guessed it, butter and feeling the warmth from the oven as it preheated.

The sound of the Chex hitting the pan rippled throughout the kitchen and brought smiles to our anxious faces. But we knew we had to wait so it was back to the television to pass the time. It took about an hour and half at a slow bake for all the seasonings to become embedded into the cereal. The occasional stir was the signal the time was getting closer.

A sharp ting from the timer was music to our ears as we rushed to the kitchen only to be told, “Now it has to cool.” What! This was torture 🙂 Back to the TV for another episode of Star Trek or perhaps half of football. Our attention was mixed as the smell gave away the future. We had one eye on the TV, our nose sniffing the air like bloodhounds and our ears pointed towards the kitchen like kitties on alert

The next sound gave it all away, mom using the big spoon, pushed the precious from the pan into a tin cookie container. I swear she used the same ones for 20 years! But it didn’t matter and the race had begun.

She handed one still warm tin to me or my brother and carefully hid the other. She knew she had to pace us throughout the season!

Today I would cringe at the nutritional analysis but it didn’t matter to 11 year-olds – or even 30 year-olds later in life!

Each of us had a strategy to eat the Nuts and Bolts. My brother went for the pecans, my dad liked the pretzels, I loved a Rice Chex smothered in almost burned Worcestershire sauce. And my mom, well she just stood back and smiled at the entire scene content to pick at whatever was left over.

And so it went. With admonishments not spoil our dinner or that we just ate, we would dive in before dinner, after dinner and sometimes during dinner each night from just after Thanksgiving to as long as the stash held out.

A few years ago during Christmas, I asked my mom if she remembered Nuts and Bolts. With her sense of humor still in tact she reached for a screw holding her hospital bed and asked me if this was what I meant? No, I replied with a laugh and went on to describe that wonderful holiday tradition where she would mix and cook and serve and hide and …

You often hear about all the stress around the holidays but today I remember Nuts and Bolts, the good time, the lifelong memories.

So what does this have to do with climbing? Nothing and everything. I am sure you climbers out there thought this article would be a discussion of cams, stoppers and pro!

You know, what I would give for a bag of mom’s Nuts and Bolts as a snack on the summit! We could always make some ourselves but it would not be the same.

2010 was a good year. Lot’s of new memories of time with family, friends and a lot of climbs. I finished climbing the Colorado 14ers. It was the year we launched The 7 Summits Climb for Alzheimer’s: Memories are Everything. The first summit of the 7 with Mt. Vinson in Antarctica. The first series of donations all towards finding a cure for Alzheimer’s.

And 2011 will be even better. The climbing will continue with the remaining 7 Summits, including Everest in April and May and Kilimanjaro in September – please consider joining this one! We are excited to have more extensive coverage of the campaign to reach more people. And we are hopeful that more progress will be made by researchers and support for caregivers.

A major event will be the signing by President Obama of the National Alzheimer’s Project Act (NAPA). This act would require the department of Health and Human Services to create a strategic plan for the federal government’s role in fighting Alzheimer’s disease, form an advisory council, and coordinate research, care, institutional services, and home- and community-based programs. This will put Alzheimer’s on a similar path taken by the Government for AIDS and cancer.

However, donations are still needed to fund research. Bill sponsor Senator Susan Collins in this New York Times article mentions:

While the act itself does not authorize more money, one of the recommendations of the national plan “is likely to be for an increase in research money for Alzheimer’s,” said another co-sponsor of the bill, Senator Susan Collins, Republican of Maine. “We spend one penny on research for every dollar the federal government spends on care for s with Alzheimer’s,” she said. “That just doesn’t make sense. We really need to step up the investment.”

There is still time for a 2010 donation. Also please tell your friends about our 7 Summits climb and follow along throughout 2011.

My to all of you and your families. I hope your holiday memories last a lifetime.

Climb On!


Memories are Everything

  6 Responses to “Climbing with Nuts and Bolts: Holiday Memories”


    Wonderful sentiments. Much to appreciate and look forward to. Thanks for being an inspiration and champion. All the best to 7 summits and the memories campaign, Alan!


    And all the best to you and yours as well. Thanks for the dispatches. Hope all of your aspirations for the new year are realized. Will be following your reports from the far and high places.


    And to Cathy and you!!! I see much climbing, in various ways, for 2011… 🙂


    Thanks guys! Happy New Year.


    A ‘Nuts and Bolts’ of an article… Thank you for sharing your holiday memories and your goals for 2011. 🙂


    we had ours at Thanksgiving this year – thanks for the reminder, and the memories

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