Lhotse 2015: A Personal Commitment


In early April, advice I’m returning to Nepal, the Himalaya and to the Everest region. This will be my 11th trip since 1997 and I will be climbing the world’s fourth highest mountain, Lhotse at 27,940 feet or 8516 meters.

As always, I will use my attempt to bring awareness to Alzheimer’s Disease but this time not only for donations to research but to ask readers and followers to join the Alzheimer’s Prevention Registry.

A Personal Commitment

The day my mom, Ida, asked me “Who are you?” was the day my life changed forever. I made a personal commitment to do everything I could to make a difference in finding a cure for Alzheimer’s. I began to dedicate my climbs to raise awareness about AD: no cure, always fatal, not a part of normal aging.  Thus far, thanks to many of you, we have reached 50 million people and raised $250,000 for Alzheimer’s research.

But there is so much more to be done, more I can do.

In finding a cure for Alzheimer’s, al trails play an important role. Many of the headlines you read about potential breakthroughs are done on mice or small scale human trails. In order for a new therapy to reach those in need, it must go through human trials and there is a severe shortage of volunteers thus stalling progress. In fact, 80% of studies fail because too few people sign up.

Alzheimer’s Prevention Registry

The Alzheimer’s Prevention Registry strives to overcome that hurdle by engaging people 18 and older of all races and ethnicities who are committed to ending Alzheimer’s, whether or not they have a family history of the disease. From simple questionnaires and surveys, to brain imaging studies and even pharmaceutical trials to evaluate investigational medications and therapies, the Registry offers members many ways in which to participate. In no way does joining the Registry obligate you to take part in a study or al trial.

Alan holding a picture of Ida Arnette on the summit of Mt. ElbrusThe Alzheimer’s Prevention Registry is part of Banner Alzheimer’s Institute (BAI),  a nonprofit organization dedicated to the goal of ending Alzheimer’s disease without losing another generation. It is helping to launch a new era of Alzheimer’s research—detection, ment and prevention at the pre-symptomatic stage—and to establish a comprehensive model of care that can be the national standard. BAI was founded in 2006 by Phoenix-based Banner Health, one of the country’s largest nonprofit healthcare systems.

• In no way does joining the Registry obligate you to take part in a study or al trial.

• Each study has a defined set of eligibility requirements, which means not everyone will qualify for enrollment in a particular study.

• All studies associated with the Alzheimer’s Prevention Registry are approved by an ethics committee and ensure participants’ privacy and confidentiality.

I have made the personal commitment and joined the registry.


Project 8000

With my summits of Everest, K2 and Manaslu, I have set an ambitious goal to summit the remaining 11 of the 14 8000 meter  mountains over the next five years. Through my climbs, I hope to reach 100 million people, and make a difference in the fight against Alzheimer’s through raising awareness, promoting the desperate need for joining al trails and raising $1 million for research.

If I’m successful, I would become only the second American to summit all 14, following in the steps of Ed Viesturs (note: Ed did them all without supplemental oxygen and on private climbs, nothing like me at age 58). Also, I might be the oldest American to summit many given I’m 58 now. Read more on Project 8000 including the schedule.


LhotselongrouteI feel like I have climbed Lhotse four times already, just not to the summit as it shares 80% of the same route used to summit Everest. I will fly into Kathmandu in early April, make the life-changing trek to Everest Base Camp and begin my acclimatization rotations before attempting to summit Lhotse in mid to late May.

I will be climbing with Madison Mountaineering and Garrett Madison who I summited K2 with last summer. Also, I am thrilled beyond words to have Kami Sherpa (Ang Chhiring Sherpa – Pangboche) climb with me. I summited Everest in 2011 with Kami as well as K2 last year. Also joining me will be Louis Carstens whom I summited Manaslu with in 2013.

The Climb

Lhotse is known as a “technical” climb meaning you need to use protection, climbing gear and full on hands and feet to gain the summit. As I make several climbs through the Khumbu Icefall, I’ll be thinking of the Sherpas who lost their lives in this section last year. I hope to minimize my, and our Sherpas, exposure by limiting the gear I carry to the high camps.

The real crux of climbing Lhotse is the final 300 meters or last 1,000 feet. Once leaving the Camp 3 at 23,500 feet on the Lhotse Face, I will cross the Yellow Band and then turn right continuing straight up the Face instead of contouring across the Geneva Spur to the South Col as I did on my Everest summit climb. We will make camp at 25,750 feet or 7850 meters on the snow covered steep slopes of Lhotse. It is almost 2,200 feet to the summit on 50 to 60 degree slopes.
Leaving early the next morning, we will climb about 400 feet eventually reaching the bottom of the Lhotse Couloir, a narrow, rock filled gully that leads to the summit that is only 9 feet wide in some spots. This is the most challenging part of a Lhotse climb and will require every mountaineering skill I have obtained on my previous 37 expeditions. I will stem off the rocks, scramble and full on rock climb the final sections. Lhotse’s summit is a small rock block that is often covered in snow making it dangerous.

The return involves rappelling and arm rapping back to Camp 4 or Camp 2 where I will spend the night. The entire summit push will take 7 days. Thanks to Ellen Miller for the Lhotse photographs.

Everest 2015

Many of you have gotten to know me through my annual coverage of the spring Everest season. Well, my plan is to report on all the Everest action but this time from Everest Base Camp and not from Colorado. The coverage will be slightly different in that I hope to do first hand interviews with interesting climbers and give first person reports on route conditions, and all the unexpected activity. I will do my to cover the north side climbing as well.

While I usually do daily posts when I’m home, given I’m climbing Lhotse, the posts may be reduced a bit. I will also document my Lhotse climb with videos, text and voice dispatches similar to how I documented my K2 climb.

My Colorado climbing buddy, Jim Davidson will be there attempting Everest with IMG so I hope to share some time with him along the way.

Follow and Join

OK, I’m pretty pumped about all this. This is the first climb for Project 8000. I’m grateful to Banner for supporting me with this project and very pleased to ask you to join the Registry – I have.

I hope to hold that same picture of Ida Arnette on the summit.

Climb On!
Memories are Everythingjointheregistry

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33 thoughts on “Lhotse 2015: A Personal Commitment

  1. Just signed up to the registry, you’re an inspiration both to my ambition to one day move on from mere Munros and to the fight against AD.

  2. Allan:

    I have just registered. My father died as a direct result of Alzheimer’s so it is of utmost interest. I also had the very tragic experience of watching one of my best friend die from ALS – the symptoms of which are opposite to Alzheimer’s.

    I am not a climber but have always harboured a desire to climb – at 64 it’s a little late to start! But I thoroughly enjoy living vicariously through your adventures and those of many of your followers. I have read numerous books and articles on climbing and recognize many of the names belonging to posts on your site and in some of the correspondence to you.

    Best wishes on your Lhotse climb – be safe. Look forward to those fabulous pics & posts – just like those for K2 last year!

    1. Thanks Mike for signing up with the Registry. Going to try to document Lhotse (and the Everest happenings next door) similar to what I did on K2. Hopefully we can add tens of thousands of names to the Registry.

  3. Hey Allan………just registered………great work you doing for your mama…….memories surely are everything…..
    Loads of good wishes and best regards…….Anamika Arora………

  4. Alan,

    I’m glad you’ve been building strength since you’ll be carrying so many of us with you! I know that you will do well on both of your missions, fund raising and climbing. You are an inspiration in so many ways!

    Be safe


  5. Dear Alan
    I climbed Lhotse after Everest in 2012, very exciting but please be careful by falling rock and ice in Lhotse long couloir and also dangerous-steep C4. Enjoy nice view from summit!
    Best of luck

  6. Dear Alan
    I climbed Lhotse after Everest in 2012, very exciting but please be careful by falling rock and ice in Lhotse long couloir and also dangerous-steep C4. Enjoy nice view from summit!
    Best of luck

  7. Signed up in the registry.

    There are several climbers from Maharashtra this season again.

    Rafiq Shaikh
    (he might combine a attempt on lhotse along with everest)

    Samir Patham
    Sauraj Jhingan

    And most specially

    Kuntal Joisher

    who is climbing for dementia which I understand is very closely related to Alzheimer’s. He is a caregiver for his father who is afflicted by dementia.

    Sachin Shinde will be attempting lobuche or island peak and hanging out with these guys at EBC

    Love to see you reporting live from the khumbu would hv loved even more to catch you in person. Maybe another time, possibly in Colorado. Or in the khumbu. Whoever knows…

  8. I’m so excited for you! I’m returning for my fourth time in mid-April this spring. My plan is to be on top of Kyajo Ri (doing Pachermo for a warm-up) about the time you’re on Lhotse. Look a bit left of direct west about 25 kilometers–I’m the one in the orange jacket waving wildly and cheering you on–lol.

    I’ll be posting updates to my site during my trip as well, and would be happy to mention your journey at some point, with a link to “Join the Registry” in it. I just did and have completed my first study exercise.

    Oh and Alan, at 58, you’re still a “baby”. My 68th is next month. Climb on!

  9. Best of luck to you on your trip(s). My grandmother had Alzheimer’s, and I know how hard that was on my own mother, and would love to be able to help find a cure or treatment.

  10. Best of luck Alan. I will be arriving at Everest base camp at the end of April on what for me will be the life changing trek you have mentioned. I have my own fund raising agenda but will do my best to champion your cause alongside and if you would like to interview a slightly overweight and undoubtedly travel weary guy at base camp, I would be happy for it to figure on my company’s website blog about my trek. We get a lot of traffic and I have welcomed some great early support

  11. Can you comment on the degree of difficulty on the last part of Lhotse compared with Everest? From these photos and others I have seen your route on the last part of Lhotse looks almost vertical; how do you set camp in that area or is that just something you run through?

    Great Challenge and Thanks for Sharing


    1. Clifford, what makes Everest difficult is the altitude. Lhotse is 1,000 lower but the final climb is more technically difficult than anything found on the higher flanks for Everest from the Southeast ridge route (other routes make all this pale in comparison). The climbing angle ranges from 45 to 60 degrees near the top on Lhotse but it is the rockfall that has me concerned. Camps are carved out of the Face, normal for these big mountains.

      1. Alan it does look much steeper than Everest, the last part anyway. I know altitude is one of the problems on Everest but Lhotse is still shatteringly high! My very gest and good wishes and luck to you. will be very exciting for you even though you have climbed Lhotse before. Will be watching your blogs all the way 🙂

        1. Jacqueline, yes the last bit of the Lhotse Couloir is steeper than the normal Southeast Ridge route on Everest, but there are steeper other Everest routes.

  12. Good luck, Alan, and pass on my regards to Louis. Be gentle with him, and be prepared to short rope him to Namche if he needs it. 😉 (yes, there’s a story there but you may need to him a drink to hear it)

    1. Louis actually would prefer a horse over the short roping but is willing to settle for a yak if necessary. If he’s forced to go the short rope route then he asks to also have a pusher behind and Dia to carry his pack. A little dex is also helpful. He’s great above Namche so don’t worry. 😉

      1. Hey Robert, you forgot to mention that Louis keeps his horse next to his tent at the base camp…:-) and rather he takes a heli out then walk or rides to Periche…

        1. Mark and Edita – yes, you are correct but I was hoping to preserve the man’s dignity. He’s a tough guy and I wish to keep him as a friend. Louis – we all love ya!!

          1. Ha, you’re both right. Louis is a nice guy and has a sense of humour. I’m sure he would have kicked my butt too had circumstances been different.

            He doesn’t read your blog though does he, Alan? 😉

        2. I guess mijnheer Louis was missing Pujan’s steaks too much and just drew a red circle with a marker on his butt, so he could be “evacuated” back to KTM! ;-))

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