Former NFL player Mark Pattison is pursuing a very different sporting achievement than anything possible on the gridiron. The former wide receiver is more than halfway toward his goal of scaling the Seven Summits — a mountaineering term for reaching to the peak of the highest mountain on each of the seven continents. If Pattison achieves his goal, he will become the first former NFL player to conquer the Seven Summits and one of about 350 people throughout history who have accomplished the feat.
Pattison already topped Mt. Kilimanjaro in Africa, Mt. Elbrus in Europe, Mt. Kosciuszko in Australia and Mt. Aconcagua in South America. He still has his sights set on climbing Mt. Denali in North America, Mt. Vinson in Antarctica and Mt. Everest in Asia. If all goes according to Pattison’s plan, he will finish the feat by spring of 2019.
Mountaineering is no easy task, even with all the climbing technology available these days. Climbing the highest mountains in the world is a process that can take up to two months per mountain, and climbing seasons are limited on many mountains due to weather and safety concerns. Altitude sickness is common and can be deadly at extreme heights. It often strikes with little to no warning.
On Everest, mountaineers have to confront the death zone, an area of the atmosphere which starts at an altitude level 8,000 meters (26,247 feet) above sea level. The air there is too thin to sustain human life for any extended period of time, so the human body is literally dying for every second spent above 8,000 meters. The peak of Everest sits at 29,028 feet above sea level, nearly 3,000 feet into the death zone.
Although training for these climbs is challenging, Pattison claimed in an interview with the New Orleans Saints website that his football history pays off both physically and mentally when it comes to mountain climbing.
Via the New Orleans Saints website:
Pattison told the Saints website that he decided to try for the Seven Summits both because he enjoys climbing and because he found out that no NFL player has ever accomplished the feat. So while the 54-year-old played in just 18 NFL games through his three-year NFL career in the 1980s, he has a chance to make football history in the present day.
Pattison started chronicling his journey on a Facebook page, NFL 2 Seven Summits, and he also posts photos from his trips to Twitter and Instagram. With just three mountains left to go, it looks like only the sky is the limit for Pattison.