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Interview with Alan Arnette, final: Frustrated with research, feeling good about Lhotse

Posted: Apr 02, 2015 06:54 pm EDT

(Tina Sjogren) We discussed climbing style and Sherpa politics. Our interview with Alan Arnette finishes on a Silicon Valley note. We revisit age, talk modern health tech, and Alzheimer's research. "In the end finding a cure is all about funding and not ideas," Arnette says.


Similar to Turkish full-time alpinist and 14, 8000ers hopeful Tunc Findik - Alan doesn't use health trackers and prefers the slopes over indoor gyms. He would test his genes (as would Tunc) and he probably would go to Mars (which Tunc would not).


But first, there's a Lhotse climb to take care off. And after that, 10 more mountains like it. "At age 58, I may be setting an alternative model for those later in life who want to retire in a chair and watch TV all day," the recent K2 summiteer said in the first part.


Here goes the final.


Traditionally most mountaineers retired in their 50s but now a number of +40-50 years old climbers head for all the biggest tops in Himalaya. The oldest Everest climbers are in their 80s. What do you think has prompted the expanded age range?


Alan: I know at age 58, I have a very different life view than my father did at this age. Also, I am magnitudes of order in better health.


With the improvements mentioned earlier in clothing, gear, communications, weather forecasting, climbing these big peaks has become more accessible. Just like any business, where there is demand, companies will adjust to meet it.


Explorersweb:  Do you consider yourself a better or worse mountaineer today compared to when you were younger? What do you do differently today than when you started?  


Alan: I’m certain that I am a better climber today than 10 years ago. I have learned the hard way how to take care of my body, when to push and when to let go. Today, I prepare better through improved nutrition, real-world training and updating my gear to reduce pack weight and protect me from the conditions.


Explorersweb: When do you think is a proper age of retirement?


Alan: That is so personal that I don’t believe there is one number for everyone.


Explorersweb:  The ideal spot to retire? 


Alan: Living close to your passion keeps us young.



Explorersweb:  There is a lot of talk right now about health and longevity: What can be learned from mountaineering, how do you stay in shape? 



Alan: Similar to a discussion of Alzheimer’s, a healthy heart helps maintain a healthy mind. Mountaineering at the 8000m level is a sport that demands you to be in top physical health and have a healthy mind.


I train weekly with climbs on Colorado 14,000 foot mountains and other outdoor activities. I prefer “real-world” training to indoor work, but am fortunate to live where I have access to the mountains.


Explorersweb:  I reside in Silicon Valley and self quantification is big here. Do you use any health tracking technology? 


Alan: Nothing other than doing an annual complete physical. But I don't use the tracking technologies. I know when my body is not doing well :) 


I have seen people get obsessed with all the data and lose focus on what they are trying to accomplish. Like any tool, if used properly with perspective it can help you improve.


Explorersweb: There is an adventure gene and an high altitude gene; would you consider gene testing yourself? 


Alan: I would, but not sure it would change anything.


Explorersweb:  What will you do if/after you make it. Any other adventurers that you would like to try?


Alan:  First things first!


Explorersweb:  I work towards going to Mars. Would you go to Space if you could?


Alan:  Absolutely, that would be an adventure. But spending 250 days in a capsule one way, even asleep, would be, um, challenging :)


Explorersweb:  How do you feel about Lhotse? Any fears?


Alan: I feel good about Lhotse. My training has come along as I like. I know the route to the Yellow Band, so no big surprises.


I’m excited to be climbing with a good friend whom I summited Manaslu with as well as with Kami and being on Garrett Madison’s overall Everest/Lhotse expedition. So, all in all, it doesn't get much better than this for me.


Explorersweb:  General tricks to stay alive?


 Alan:  Listen to yourself, surround yourself with people better than you and listen and learn.


Explorersweb: How's your Alzheimer's quest going?


Alan:  I’m impatient with the scientific progress. While there has been break throughs, such as growing brain cells with Alzheimer’s type symptoms in a petri dish, we need to go faster. This one will allow researchers to test drugs in a matter of months, not years so it is a significant advancement.


Also we need more people to enroll in clinical trials. That is why I’m working with the Alzheimer’s Prevention Registry, to ask people to sign up for consideration of doing a trial. Many of these are non-invasive and involve surveys, etc. 80% of all clinical trials fail due to lack of volunteers.


Also, the impact on caregivers is growing as the population with Alzheimer’s grows. Caregivers often suffer from severe depression, make huge financial sacrifices. A little known fact is the impact on teenagers living in a home with someone with AD. They often become the primary caregiver while the parents work.


In the end finding a cure for Alzheimer’s is all about funding and not ideas. I feel good to have raised over $250,000 for research and reached 50 million people through my climbs. Also, I reach a different audience that the normal non-profit through my climbing, which is the point.



This Interview series



Part 1

Part 2

Part 3


 Alan's Blog



Previous with Arnette


ExWeb Special: 2015 Everest and Himalaya Mountaineers Tech Roundtable






Everest 2015: Interesting Expeditions of the Season



Hello from Kathmandu: Tunc Findik going for Annapurna


Tunc Findik interview, final: Anna will have to wait


Horia and Hamor Rope Up for Manaslu North Side Climb and Ski


10 things to do before going off to climb Everest


Wildcard: Everest Rules and Permits 2015



Himalaya 2015 Spring climbing coverage



Annapurna: Holding back Summit-Bids, Other Climbers Start Acclimatization


R.I.P. Samuli Mansikka


Annapurna Rescue Mission Launched: Not Everything is alright


Annapurna: List of Summiteers


Annapurna: Climbers on Final Summit-bid! (Update: Summits)


Annapurna: First Summit Push of the Season Begins


Spring 2015: Early Birds Have Reached Annapurna


Lifesaving Wrong Turn: Unsuccessful but Happy Expedition on Nanga Parbat










"I have a very different life view than my father did at this age. Also, I am magnitudes of order in better health."
courtesy Alan Arnette, SOURCE
Cheers to the years: "I’m certain that I am a better climber today than 10 years ago"
courtesy Alan Arnette, SOURCE
Summit with mom. "We need more people to enroll in clinical trials," Alan says about the Alzheimer's that took her life.
courtesy Alan Arnette, SOURCE
Hard to miss a sunset when on a mountain.
courtesy Alan Arnette, SOURCE
This season Alan will return to Everest BC as a K2 summiteer. "All in all, it doesn't get much better than this for me," he figures about Lhotse.
courtesy Alan Arnette, SOURCE