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
His projects include:
- 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
| • 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
I will attempt 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
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.
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®
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
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
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:
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.
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.
was a climb to the 14th highest peak in the world,
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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
Schauer - Webber Junior High School - Ft. Collins, Colorado
for their fund raising activities
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.
The following websites have information for you, your family and caregivers to learn more about Alzheimer’s disease and ongoing research: