Alan Arnette on K2 at Neptune Mountaineering

Last summer, as I was considering combining my love of mountain ultrarunning with raising money and awareness toward a cure for pancreatic cancer, I reached out to someone I saw as a role model in this type of work. Alan Arnette combined big mountain climbing with raising money toward a cure for Alzheimer’s. He shared valuable advice that informed my creation of Elevating a Cure.

I asked why he’d never spoken in Boulder. When he replied that he’d not had it organized, “I’ll do it” came out of my mouth. It was a pleasure. Last night Neptune Mountaineering hosted Alan, over 100 people and one border collie, Scout, Explorer Extraordinaire.

Photographs by Jorge Rufat-Latre

After sharing a little bit about his motivation, losing his mother to the disease and dedicating his life to a cure, Alan emphasized the experience necessary to consider as deadly a mountain as K2 has been for mountain climbers. What followed was a detailed account of the K2 climb and descent including video clips from Islamabad to and from the summit. The puja was especially meaningful for him as was the visit to the Gilkey Memorial.

An unprecedented weather window allowed multiple successful expeditions this year including Alan’s. Yet, no expedition to K2 is without its mental and physical challenges. “The mountain starts steep and never lets up,” he repeated. Avalanches occur multiple times daily. Rocks and seracs fall at the mountain’s whim. By the time he was making his final push to the summit, his climb began to “fall apart.” He’d contracted HAPE (High Altitude Pulmonary Edema), a condition whose cure demands immediate descent to lower altitude. Yet, he never considered turning back.

He not only made the summit but also the descent despite pivotal moments during which he thought he might stay on the mountain forever. If you missed this talk, Alan speaks often about his climbs and awareness efforts to cure Alzheimer’s. You can follow him on Facebook, Twitter and his website.

Hope this inspires you to take a step toward realizing your dreams and fulfilling your passion!