At his current age of 62-years-old, Alan Arnette is not just a mountain climber. He has become an important spokesperson for many of the tragedies that have unfortunately taken place on Mt. Everest. Alan says: “When I submitted Vincent in late 2010 December, my tent-mate was a gentleman by the name of Rick Hitch. We both ended up on Everest six months later, and Rick fell over dead on the fixed ropes right below camp 3. Rick was very skilled and very experienced. But it shows you the randomness of altitude and the randomness of what mountains do to people.” Even in the midst of the tragedy of others, Alan has made time to climb all 58 of the Colorado mountains and pushed hard towards trying to find a cure for Alzheimers, an illness that has claimed the lives of many of his family members. As you will soon find out, safety and healthcare are of extreme importance to Alan Arnette.
On this episode of Finding Your Summit Podcast, we talk with Alan Arnette, Summit Coach, Public Speaker, Mountaineer, and Alzheimer’s Advocate about how he keeps busy moving into his golden years with passion and purpose. Alan stated: “I have this firm philosophy that mountains are for everybody and that everybody should be given the opportunity and not prevented from being able to go on a mountain, and…not but..and they need to earn the right, not just pay the money and be put on the mountain.” In 2019 alone, out of the 11 deaths, he estimates that maybe 7 of those deaths are related to some level of inexperience. Part of the problem Alan feels is: “You’ve got inexperienced climbers with inadequate support or unqualified guides.” Alan Arnette talks about what is really important behind terms like sherpas and western guides, and how the word ‘qualified’ is the most important indicator of a mountain climbing support person.
What You Will Learn:
Alan shares a story about being on Everest with a young sherpa, both of them experiencing Everest for the first time, with a world-class company. “My first time on Everest was 2002. I was at 27,300 feet right below the balcony. I was on my hands and knees, gagging, vomiting. I thought I was going to cough up a liver or something, and I knew that I was done, 7 hours into it.” Alan ended up going back down to camp 3. The sherpa lacked the communication and interpersonal skills to be of assistance.
It would eventually take Alan Arnette four tries to successfully summit Mt. Everest. He talks about what was going on during those four adventures. Alan says: “I always tell people before you try Everest I highly recommend that you go to another 8000-meter mountain to understand how your body performs at altitude so that you know what you know.” After being unsuccessful on Everest for the first time in 2002 and not submitting, he went back the next year in 2003 and only got to the same level up. The 3rd and finally 4th trips to Everest took on a different level of momentum for Alan Arnette. In 2008, Alan’s mother was diagnosed with Alzheimers and he used his 3rd climb to raise awareness. This added an extra level of accountability to his climb, even when he felt ready to quit mountain climbing altogether. “A failure is when you attempt something really hard. You don’t accomplish your objective and you don’t learn anything from it,” says Alan.
How did things go better during his 4th trip to Mt. Everest? Alan made it to his favorite rock in 2 and a half hours instead of 7. Thanks to his Alzheimers advocacy, Johnson and Johnson also sponsored him. Alan shares: “There are 100 reasons to turn around. There are 1,000 reasons to quit and one to keep going.” He was thinking about honoring his mom and his 5 aunts that have also died from Alzheimers, the 5 million in the US and the 50 million around the world, the caregivers, the researchers.
Take the time to understand why Alan Arnette is such a believer in understanding the personal reasons behind mountain climbing. He says: “The infamous ‘why’ question always comes up, especially after seasons like this. Why in the world would you climb Everest? It is important to know why you are climbing…In this year, I’m not sure that there were people on the mountain that knew why they were there. And I think that’s critical.”
The rate for death on Everet is 4% and K2 is 25%, where one out of four people die. Alan talks about summiting K2 in Pakistan, the mountain which is pretty much straight up, in a location that is not always the safest travel destination as an American, where the mountain’s chance for danger is worse than Everest. Alan gives up the goods on how he got there, with his inspirational outlook: “When a window opens up in your life, you have an obligation to jump through that window head-first without regard for where you are going to land.” Find out who his first-class team was while summiting on his 58th birthday.
How Alan Fell In Love With Mountain Climbing:
Alan Arnette worked for HP and he would like the importance of balancing the equilateral triangle that consists of work, family, and himself. “I have always found out that I am the happiest in my life when it is an equilateral triangle. I have balance across all three of those areas: work, family, and myself. When I get out of wack, when I’m spending way too much time on work, which I did for the first 20 years with my career at HP, everything else suffers, as my ex-wife would tell you,” said Alan. When he was told that Europeans get the month of August off to spend time with family and personal interests, this led him to realize he never did anything for himself.
Alan’s Connection to the Mountains:
Alan Arnette shared, “Being in the mountains, it absolutely renews my soul. It feeds my essence.” For those that might think that it is selfish to risk your life mountain climbing, his response is: “I’m a firm believer that you have to invest in yourself if you’re going to have the ability to be a great employee, to be a great spouse, to be a great father. You’ve got to invest in yourself. And that’s where that balance comes into play.” Purpose and passion, as a 62-year-old Alzheimers advocate, keeps Alan motivated. Learn why his purpose is raising awareness about mountain climbing for his passion is heading up steep hills.
Links to Additional Resources:
- Alan Arnette: Alanarnette.com Linkedin Twitter
- Laird Superfood – Code: Markp20 [Sponsor]
- Cascade Mountain Tech
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