Mountaineer Alan Arnette of Ft. Collins, Colo., is embarking on a bold project to summit all 14 of the 8000 m mountains in five years. It is unique in two ways: he is 58 years old, and his motivation is to raise $1 million to find a cure for Alzheimer's, the disease that took his mother and two aunts.
He took early retirement from Hewlett-Packard to oversee the care for his mom in 2007; the more he learned about Alzheimer's Disease (AD), the more helpless he felt. Ida died in 2009. Now six years later, 2015, there is still no reliable means of diagnoses, no way of stopping it once a person has it and is 100% fatal, a situation totally unacceptable to Arnette and the millions impacted by AD.
With summits of Everest, K2 and Manaslu and good efforts on Shishapangma, Broad Peak and Cho Oyu, Arnette feels well prepared to attempt the 11 mountains he has not summited. There are 14 mountains above 8000 meters or 26,247 feet. Thirty-four people have summited all 14, including only one American, Ed Viesturs.
To minimize costs, he will try to organize the climbs leveraging logistics from local organizations. Each climb will be conducted in small, safe teams utilizing proven Sherpa support, hopefully including Kami Sherpa who accompanied him on successful summits of both Everest and K2 with in 2011 and 2014.
As the 18th and oldest American to summit K2, he attracted worldwide attention, reached five million people and raised $70,000 in just six weeks. This combined with his Seven Summits campaign in 2011 that reached 30 million people, validated his model of using climbing to raise awareness and critically needed funds.
He is seeking sponsors for the journey he’s calling Project 8000 for Alzheimer's. The expenses are modest when spread over five years, but the public relations need is large.
Ideally, Arnette would prefer to have one company support the entire project but individual climbs are still available to reduce the size of the investment. With the proper PR backing, he believes 100 million people can be reached during the campaign. His website and social media has over 2.5 million annual interactions.
The above story originally appeared in Expedition News.