Memories are Everything®:
The Road Back to Mt. Everest
Raising Funds and Awareness for Alzheimer’s
Alan Arnette is an Alzheimer's advocate for individuals, their families and anyone impacted by this disease through his professional speaking, climbing and website.

His objectives for the Memories are Everything® climbs are:
  • Educate the public, especially youth, on the early warning signs and how to prepare
  • Increase awareness that Alzheimer's Disease has no cure
  • Raise research money for Alzheimer's non-profits
His projects include:

Over $250,000 raised for Alzheimer's non-profits and
50 million people reached through my climbs

Donate to Alzheimer's • NO CURE, always Fatal
• No easy, inexpensive method of early detection
• 3rd leading cause of death in the US
• New case every 68 seconds, 4 seconds worldwide
• Impacts more than 5+m in US, 25m+ worldwide
• Devastating financial burden on families
• Depression higher for caregivers
• Issues are increasing rapidly as population ages

None of the donations go to Alan
or climbing expenses.

Donate to Alzheimers


I summited the world's hardest mountain, K2, in 2014; my third climb of my Memories are Everything effort to support the fight against Alzheimer's. In 2007 and 2008, I took on a challenging goal: The Road Back to Mt. Everest. This was a year long journey where I attempted to summit Everest in 2008 plus raise research funds for Alzheimer's. In preparation, I attempted Denali in June 2007 and Shishapangma in September 2007 then summited Aconcagua and Orizaba in January 2008 and finally returned to Everest in April 2008. I sent dispatches during the climbs.

Standing at 27,200' on the icy slopes of Mount Everest in 2003, I lectured myself between gags that this was it. No more. I was too old and my body was just not cut out for high altitude mountaineering. After all it was only 363 days earlier that I had stood on this exact same spot suffering convulsions and made my own decision to return to the South Col before it was too late. Those experiences have come to shape my life in ways I never imagined. They are memories I never hope to forget. And, once again, I went back to climb Mt. Everest.

Those who have followed my site the past eight years know a lot about me ... perhaps too much! I appreciate the special relationship I have with my visitors. I have many new friends and in fact some of my best climbing partners I met by way of this site. So in that spirit, I chronicled the journey through a series of reports on my way back to Everest.

However, this was not just about climbing mountains. There was something I think was, and is, much more important.

Memories are Everything®

Alan with Ama Dablan behind

My Father passed away in late 2006 and my Mother died from Alzheimer’s Disease. As a result of seeing the impact of Alzheimer's on my mother, it became clear that I had to do something. I decided to dedicate my life to my two passions: mountain climbing and my family. By using this site to publicize a 5 climb journey with the summit of Mt. Everest being the end climbing goal, I hoped to raise awareness and $100,000 for Alzheimer's research. My dream is that researchers can find a way to stop or a cure for this killer of lives and robber of precious lifetime memories before it is too late for the next generation.

This is a devastating disease we know little about. It impacts over 5 million Americans today and a new case is diagnosed every 69 seconds. The funding for research is very low compared to cancer and heart disease. I use my site and climbing to raise money for research and raise the public's awareness of Alzheimer’s, the impact on individuals and their families and ways you can get involved before it is too late. To make this as real as I can over the internet, please visit my "Memories are Everything®" page on my personal experience and I think you will see why this is a cause worth supporting.

 

Alzheimer's Research (2008)

Can you imagine not recognizing your children, remembering where you live or that you stood on top of the world in your earlier years? But Alzheimer's disease is not about just losing your memory, it is about dying. Spending on Alzheimer’s research pales in comparison to research on cancer, heart disease and many other crippling diseases. Funding through the National Institute of Health puts Alzheimer's far behind at only $644 million in 2009 as compared to $5,654m for cancer and $1,033m for diabetes.

One of my friends for my Memories are Everything® fund raising is the Cure Alzheimer's Fund mission is to fund research with the highest probability of preventing, slowing or reversing Alzheimer’s Disease through venture based philanthropy. All organizational expenses are paid for by the Founders and Board, allowing all other contributions to be applied directly to Alzheimer’s Disease research.

They are currently funding 14 research projects ranging from an ACAT Inhibitor Study which is a two-part study focuses on the effect of a particular drug targeted at a cholesterol-related enzyme (ACAT I), with the objective of preventing or decreasing the production of neurotoxic Abeta in the brain; to their primary project of Alzheimer's Genome Project™ (AGP) initiative which has the objective of identifying all relevant remaining Alzheimer’s genes that have not yet been discovered, thereby identifying more targets for the development of therapeutic interventions. In 2008, the CAF announced that one of their funded projects identified four genes that may significantly increase the risk of the most common form of late-onset Alzheimer’s. But the epidemic continues to moves quickly and with the baby-boomer generation aging, the number will become staggering as will the costs.

The Return to Mt. Everest

Courtsey of Patrick VallAt age 50, I fully understood what I was signing up for. So I dedicated a year of my life to these goals. However, my climbing priority was, as it always has been, to do my best and return home safely to my family.

I did a series of climbs to tune my body to be in the best possible shape for the Everest attempt. The schedule provided time at altitude, building new skills and allowed for sufficient recovery times between climbs. Here was the plan and the results:

First, I am so fortunate to live in Colorado. So Patrick, Robert - my closest climbing partners - and I climb as many 14ers as we can throughout the year.

 

DenaliThe first climb was in June, 2007 when I returned to Alaska for Mt. Mckinley or Denali, as it is better known. I climbed Denali, 20,320 feet or 6,193 meters, in 2001 but was forced back due to bad weather at 17,200' on Denali Pass. The weather in 2007 was horrible once again and we were stuck at the Ranger camp at 14,000' for a week.

Once we started to move higher on the 17,000' ridge, I contracted some kind of weird stomach problem that looked like AMS but my oxygen levels and other signs were all normal. I still made the decision to return to the Ranger camp and on the advice of doctors was helicoptered out. To this day, I don't know what happened but was grateful to the guides and rangers for all their help.

 

 

 

 calling HomeNext was a climb to the 14th highest peak in the world, Shishapangma in Tibet. Shisha is 26,335 feet or 8027 meters. This was designed to be a true test of my ability to perform at high altitude. I took my time and carefully acclimatized to give me the best possible chance. The expedition started in Kathmandu, then we flew to Lhasa and drove over the Tibetan Steps to a beautiful base camp. The six week expedition was my fifth climb on an 8000m mountain.

Everything was going well but as is usual in the extreme altitudes, weather has the final say. A strong front moved in and we were stuck at advanced base camp for about a week. A few climbers tried to go for the summit but were prevented by high winds and deep snow. I reached 7000 meters and felt good about the overall experience.

Aconcagua

 

 

In January 2008 I added a return trip to Aconcagua at the last minute since I felt I wanted a summit under my belt. It as a great trip with good weather (for Aconcagua) and I summited in good style in strong winds and sharply cold temps. It was just what I was looking for!

 

Orizaba

 

The last climb before Everest was in Mexico on the 18,880 foot, 5754 meter volcano, Pico de Orizaba. My great friends Patrick and Robert joined me on this one and we had a wonderful time. The summit crater was incredible as were the views. I highly recommend this climb for anyone looking for the next step up from a 14er.

 

speaking

 

Before leaving for Everest, I did a series of presentations on my journey to raise money for the Cure Alzheimer's Fund. I spoke (and continue to do so today) at many schools, community gatherings and special fund raising events. I had the opportunity to meet many interesting people who had also been touched by this horrible disease. It was eye opening to see how many are impacted by Alzheimer's and it galvanized my determination to raise as much money as possible. However, the donations were coming in slow and it looked like I was not going to make my $100,000 goal.

Finally, came Everest. I was already apprehensive about retuning for my third time. I had planned on going on the north side from Tibet since I felt it may be a little easier given the shorter climb on summit night. But the Chinese had closed their side due to violence in Lhasa so we had no choice but to go the following year or climb from the south side and Nepal. And so Nepal it was - for the third time!

However the Chinese influence reached across the boarder and our climbing schedule was severely limited by the military on the mountain. It seemed that they were concerned that a protest would take place on the summit as the Chinese took the Olympic torch to the top of Everest. The summit of the torch was to be televised across China and they were not gong to take any chances.

So we spent weeks sitting in base camp when we should have been climbing to C3 to get our bodies adjusted to the altitude. However, we adapted to the situation and eventually made a summit bid on May 20th 2008.

I felt good going to Camp 3 at 23,000' but was slow climbing to the South Col or Camp 4 at 26,300' or 8,000 meters. Once there I did everything I could to get ready for the summit night by resting, sleeping, drinking and eating for several hours.

Everest

My Sherpa, Lam Babu of High Altitude Dreams, and I left at 8:30PM. I was slow, too slow, heading towards the Balcony at 8200m or 27,500'. As I reached this milestone, I made the decision that if I continued I might put my life in jeopardy and perhaps others if I needed a rescue. So with a deep sense of satisfaction and disappointment, I turned around.

Everest

I have written almost a book on Everest 2008 that can be downloaded. It has details of the politics, the time in camps, the military pointing guns at us and the summit night. Also have included many pictures that help tell the story. I hope you enjoy it.

 

 

 

 

I am pleased that we raised $25,000. I want to thank the following people for their help in this journey:

  • Cathy Arnette - my wife for her love and support during the long weeks away from home
  • Katie Cutler - The Cure Alzheimer's Fund for her ongoing support
  • Andrew Schauer - Webber Junior High School - Ft. Collins, Colorado for their fund raising activities
  • Ginny Allen - Eastern High School - Louisville, Kentucky for their fund raising activities
  • Tekla Petrinovich - Straford School - Los Gatos, CA for their fund raising activities
  • Anthony Garcia - Boltz Junior High School - Ft. Collins, Colorado for their fund raising activities
  • Bryan Mekechuk for his help with the fund raising events in California
  • Tom Bayer - First Western Trust Bank for their help with fund raising events in Colorado
  • and many other individuals

Finally thank to each person who gave any amount to the Memories are everything campaign. Your support is more meaningful than you may ever know. Thank you.

You can always make a donation - 100% of all donations will go to Alzheimer’s research - zero to fund the climbs. If you are already make donations elsewhere, perhaps this is a year you can consider an alternative or a little bit more for this important cause.



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Alzheimer's Resources

The following websites have information for you, your family and caregivers to learn more about Alzheimer’s disease and ongoing research: