Alan Arnette, has posted a very personal account of his summit push on the Savage Mountain, sharing some incredible insights into the physical and mental challenges he had to overcome to reach the top of the toughest mountain on the planet. To do so, he had to battle back his own fears and insecurities, and overcome a case of High Altitude Pulmonary Edema, a condition that can prove fatal if a climber doesn't descend in a timely fashion.
If you followed Allan's expedition, you probably read his dispatches about his travels to Pakistan, the journey to Skardu and Askole, before beginning the trek to Base Camp, and his acclimatization process on the mountain. You've probably even read his pre- and post-summit updates, which shared a bit about his preparation, conditioning, and mental state on the climb. Following his successful summit, Alan even touched on the challenges he faced on the way up, and back down. But those dispatches only hinted at the hurdles that he had to overcome along the way. This report takes us through the very long, and grueling, battle he had with K2 – and more importantly, himself – when he pressed toward the summit back on July 27.
Alan talks about the deep, and overwhelming, fatigue that set in as he climbed above Camp 4, approaching 25,500 feet (7772 meters). It was at that point that he was ready to just stop, sit down, and stay right where he was, not caring to move forward or back. It was a crucial moment of the climb. He felt like he was dying, and there wasn't any energy left to fight on.
But then he remembered why he was there. Climbing to raise funds and awareness for the fight against Alzheimer's, he drew strength from the thought of all the people who were supporting him, and those who suffered from that terrible disease. And at that moment, he found a new source of energy that helped to propel him forward. It wouldn't be easy, but he had to finish the ascent.
As I said, this is a very personal account of Alan's climb, and what I've written about in this post is just the beginning, and one small part of what he shares. It is a lengthy read, but also very inspiring. It is also a great account of high altitude mountaineering on a peak that remains incredibly demanding and dangerous, even when conditions are at there very best.
The title of this post says it all. If you're a mountaineer, either actual or armchair, you need to read this story. It will give you a new found respect for the climbers who topped out on K2 this summer, and the challenges that they faced along the way. Read it in its entirety here.