Everest 2021: If I Were Climbing Everest in 2021

Gear for Mt. Vinson

If I were climbing Everest in 2021, I hope that there was nothing left to be done except spend quality time with my friends and family and hope the virus doesn’t take more lives than the mountain does. But for the moment, let’s pretend the virus is not a factor.

Climbing Everest is about the three E’s: Experience, Education, and Expectations.

By now, I would have spent years preparing my mind, body, and essence for what will be the most challenging 24 hour period I will ever experience in my life on the summit push and return.

Of the three E’s, let’s start with:


For me being as self-sufficient as possible is the key to a positive experience on any climb, That means knowing how to tie knots, the obvious area like self-care (hydration, nutrition, rest, the climber’s inventory), climbing skills (ice, rock, and glacier) and being a solid team member.

Climbing one or two 5000 or 6000-meter peaks is a great introduction but does not prepare one to climb the world’s highest. If anyone tells you otherwise, or they will “teach you everything you need to know on the climb”, well , all they want is your money, and they don’t care about your life, as callous as that sounds.


I never assumed I could go from my couch to Everest but read and heard about many who summited Kili and thought they were ready.

If I was going to Everest this year, my training would be complete. I spent ample time at altitude including at 7,000-meters the past year. I did laps on my local Hill, including in the pouring rain and near blizzard conditions this winter, to work on my mental toughness. I spent countless hours visualizing what it would be like on the Lhotse Face, Southeast Ridge, and, of course, the summit during my 12-plus hour weekly outings.

Also, over the past ten years, while gathering experience on lower, easier climbs like Mont Blanc, Kangri, Lenin, Rainier, Orizaba, Cotopaxi. I got an attempt on the 8000-meter peak Cho Oyu or Manaslu to see how my body would perform in the ‘death zone.” I would have pushed hard on Aconcagua or a different 7000-meter peak in January getting my mind and body ready for Everest a few short months later. Also, I would have used that 7000er as a final test for most of the gear, except the pure 8000-meter stuff like boots and down suit.

I selected my guide almost a year ago after extensive research and talking to other climbers like me – age and experience – kept in close contact with them to understand the entire process from visas to what food I should bring to specific travel dates. I had several calls with my guide, not the owner, the understand their style.


Now, I’m leaving in a few days for Kathmandu. I’m careful not to get sick. My physical training has tapered off to some simple weight training and a short run or two. For once in the past year, I’m eating ice cream!!

I’m reaching out to friends, some of whom have summited Everest, to seek their advice. Most tell me to relax and focus on my family and let the journey evolve as it might.

They also tell me that there are many events throughout an Everest climb I cannot control. But what I can control is my reaction to events. I can choose to get angry, frustrated, or isolate myself for others or take it all in stride with an almost moment-to-moment Zen approach and be grateful for each minute I’m there. I like this second approach.

Am I ready? Well, it’s all about definition. I’m ready physically. I’m ready mentally (I think.) But the real test will come at 2:00 am on the Southeast Ridge seeing headlamps above and below me. The wind picks up, I begin to feel cold. This is the moment I visualized for months. Will I be ready to take the next step higher? 

Follow Along!

I have begun to create my annual team location table and tracking climber’s blogs (see sidebar). If you have a team not listed, please let me know and I will add them if I can track them. If you prefer not to be mentioned, please contact me.

I am now posting background articles and interviews between now and early April when the teams arrive at the base camps. If you would like to see anything special this year, post a comment or drop me an email.

Here’s to a safe season for everyone on the Big Hill!

Climb On!
Memories are Everything

The Podcast on alanarnette.com

You can listen to #everest2021 podcasts on SpotifyApple Podcast, Breaker, Google Podcasts, Pocket Casts, RadioPublic, Anchor, and more. Just search for “alan arnette” on your favorite podcast platform.


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2 thoughts on “Everest 2021: If I Were Climbing Everest in 2021

  1. Another great post. Perhaps a similar post from the perspective of a guide and a tour operator, if you think it would be of interest?

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