We rose around midnight on August 11 and ate a simple breakfast of rice and raisins, the same breakfast we ate every day at High Camp of Mt. Elbrus, the highest peak in Europe. The wind was blustery but the temperatures were in the mid-teens so overall it was not too bad. We made the push up the final 1,000' to the summit plateau and from there it was a short 15 minute walk across a basically flat snow field to a final climb of about 50' onto the small true summit of Europe.
Just about one month later, I watched as the sun rose over Mawenzi, the adjacent volcano and part of the Kilimanjaro structure, and enjoyed almost perfect climbing conditions. Once at Stella point, the entry to the crater rim, the crater was fully visible as were a few of Kilimanjaro's remaining glaciers. I took the quick 10 minute walk to reach the world-famous sign at the true summit of the highest peak in Africa and enjoyed the views while posting the audio dispatch noting September as World Alzheimer's Month.
Standing on the summits of the highest mountains of the world's continents has been rewarding as a mountaineer. Sending our message of hope, need and urgency to find a cure for Alzheimer's disease has been overwhelming.
As I return from my latest climb, Mt. Kilimanjaro, the highest peak in Africa, I have new memories that will last a lifetime. With September being World Alzheimer's Month, it is a good time to remember our purpose for climbing the 7 Summits of the world. Alzheimer's is growing faster than we are making progress on a cure.
When I first started The 7 Summits Climb for Alzheimer's in November 2010, every 70 seconds a new case was diagnosed in the United States; today it is every 69 seconds.
With each summit, I have dedicated the climb to the special people impacted by this disease or those working toward improved treatments and a cure. As I have now climbed 6 of the 7 Summits on six different continents, I have been amazed at how widespread this disease has become. On each climb, from Argentina to Africa, I have had multiple conversations with teammates, guides and local people about Alzheimer's and the impact on their loved ones. They all tell a similar story -- that they did not see it coming in their loved one, the costs devastated family finances and that they felt guilty and helpless to provide help.
Through the support of the Alzheimer's Immunotherapy Program of Pfizer Inc. and Janssen AI on The 7 Summits campaign, all funds I have and will continue to raise go directly to three organizations I selected: the Alzheimer's Association, the Cure Alzheimer's Fund™ and the National Family Caregivers Association. The donations will help fund critical research projects, caregiver support and overall education and awareness through these three supporters.
I will finish The 7 Summits Climb for Alzheimer's with two more climbs in October -- Carstensz Pyramid and Kosciuszko -- so please continue to follow along and to make a donation.
I climb to honor my mother, the more than 5 million individuals with Alzheimer's in the United States and the millions more worldwide. I will continue to climb and raise money and awareness. This disease is unfair, unpredictable and needs to be stopped. And with your help, it will be.
You can read more about The 7 Summits Climb for Alzheimer's: Memories are Everything at www.Climb4AD.com or www.facebook.com/Climb4AD.