Mount Everest

Michael Arnstein, My Experience

My numbers on Mt. Everest:

28

days

29,035

feet

Highest Point (Summit)

- 20

farenheit

Temperature on the summit

+ 200

bodies

frozen on the summit

A preface

I was born with a unique nature for risk and adversity; I have also lived a life with influences that have hardened my personality and ambition.

In this writing I will share some of my most personal perspectives in how I view common societal standards and the world as they relate to me as an individual. Many readers will not identify with my ideas or characterizations of how I experience life. Not all of my feelings and emotions are constant; I have experienced many seasons of change at different times in my life.

I have concerns about how some friends, family, colleagues and the public may view me as a person after reading some of the intensities of my thoughts and feelings. I am trying to be fearless in my honesty in moments of passion. I had a very intense life experience which has created some extreme responses, there may be some genuine post traumatic stress.

My name is Michael Arnstein.
This is my story of climbing Mt. Everest.

Mountain Climbing. Why?

What is it that draws humans to look up into the sky and want to rise above their existing vantage point?

There are as many nuanced answers to this question as there are mountain climbers. Each person has different motivations and aspirations in mountain climbing.

But why EVEREST? This is more of a dance with the angel of death than mountain climbing. It takes a special kind of crazy to take on this challenge.

A primal drive to test the will to survive. Humans have endured, evolved, many of us have grit; gained and maintained over the countless generations that have suffered and survived before us.

When you look at the human body and think carefully about how we are designed, it is fascinating. We have telescopic eyes, sense of smell, audible sensors in our ears, hairs on our skin to sense air movement and temperature, our long legs and arms, hands for grasping, standing vertically unlike most other creatures. Our large complex brains, we have extraordinary super-intelligence. The ability to endure great challenges both intellectually and physically. All our collective skills as a species has created abundance and comforts beyond our imaginations. So much success, but in some ways to our detriment.

Do you have any idea what you are capable of on a physical, emotional and spiritual level?

So few of us tap into our superhuman powers in modern times. Most people have become medicated android zombies going through life on a horizontal escalator; sometimes referred to as a car, bus, train, elevator, chair with wheels, mind numbing predictability from moment to moment, year to year.

I hate, I despise, I loathe the ease of existence today. I am embarrassed to think about how pathetically risk-free my own life is. I’ve become part of the zombie masses most days of my life, focused on collecting material conveniences and luxuries. Distracted by everything that glitters, offers an easier route to a sadder, more pathetic ease of existence. The result has numbed and disengaged our superhuman-powers.

Somehow I was able to escape the matrix at various times in my life when I would take on physical challenges to see what my maximum potential might be. My greatest moments of feeling super-human-alive have always come through the most agonizing challenges of suffering.

Too few people take on grand challenges in their lives. Pain and suffering avoidance is their everyday focus; they reach old age and term it aging gracefully, quietly reaching a comfortable end to life. If all the prior generations that suffered to survive could see how we’ve all turned out maybe they wouldn’t have tried so hard?

Imagine the tens of thousands of generations that came before you today, the unimaginable hardships of our forefathers, each creating one more layer of armor in our DNA. How dare I not open my Pandora's box; to see what is inside, to strive, to test, to achieve, to honor all those who helped create the super human abilities hiding inside of me?

"Mountain climbing is one way I have found to directly engage all of my god given senses".

Mountain climbing is one way I have found to directly engage all of my god given senses.

Big. Big mountains turn off all the bullshit. It’s a way to teleport to 20,000 years ago when we were closer to resembling a beast than mankind as we know today; when we lived and died based on our individual instincts and will to survive.

Hell Yes. Mt. Everest. I am Here. I am Ready. Test Me.

NATURE OR NURTURE?

A short story about when I was born.

I came into this life during a storm of extremes, and whatever the case may be, it’s my nature. Maybe my mother should have named me Storm. It’s been to my benefit and to my detriment.

Read Story

How many people do you know who climbed Mt. Everest?

You can skip ahead and look at me on the summit of the mountain; but this is not the achievement to focus on. How did I get to the summit? That is where all the glory can be found. The pain, the agony, the angst, the hell misery is the story, the summit picture has no meaning without all the struggle to get there.

So I suggest reading more about the backstory.

My steps to climb Mt. Everest started when I was just 13 years old.

December 1990

Heavenly Valley California 10,000ft elevation

Read Story

Fast forward
34 years...

Fast forward 34 years...

25 Time Finisher: The Boston Marathon.

April 2024

Hopkinton Massachusetts

Read Story

April 18, 2024

KATHMANDU, NEPAL

I arrived in Kathmandu with a steadied mind. Although the idea of climbing Mt. Everest seems overwhelming, I feel genuinely prepared.

I’m in excellent physical shape, which is most important in my opinion, but maybe equally important, I am prepared in life cycle timing. This gives me calm and peace of mind. How is my life cycle timing so good?

I waited until all my children were young adults and well situated in their own lives. My business has grown to a mature level. I have super excellent managers, and operations are in good order. I have saved and invested well to take time off from work responsibly. My wife and I celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary earlier in the year. We are in a very good place in our relationship supporting each other's life passions. At 47 years old, I have built trust and security in all areas of my life.

I did the work. I am excited. This is my time.

Within an hour of landing I am literally boarding a helicopter that will fly to the foothills of the Himalayan mountains: Lukla. It’s about a 1 hour flight, landing at the Tenzing Hillary helipad.

After landing at Lukla most people start the 7-10 day hike to Basecamp. It’s usually best-practices to hike the 7-10 days so the body has a chance to adjust to the extreme altitude. I’m skipping the hike for 2 reasons. 1. I don’t want to add an extra week to my time in Nepal when it already takes 4+ weeks to climb Mt. Everest; and 2nd, I am already acclimated to high altitude since I was sleeping in an altitude tent in New York for the past 5 weeks.

So I transfer my bags to another helicopter that will fly from Lukla to Basecamp (takes about 30 minutes). I am jumping into the deep-end right away! I was in Manhattan less than 2 days ago!

BASECAMP

Arriving in Basecamp for the 2nd time in my life was maybe more exciting than my first visit to basecamp. The first time was the previous year; I had hiked from Lukla to Basecamp with my son Sam and daughter Charlotte. It was probably the most enjoyable experience I ever had with 2 or my 3 children. I gained valuable experience and perspective on climbing Mt. Everest while hiking through all the local villages and feeling the air and calling of the mountains.

I can confidently say when I arrived at Basecamp the 2nd time by helicopter, with the full intention of climbing Mt. Everest; it was even more exciting than my first visit. Mouth open, in awe and wonder I was enthralled like few other times in my life.

I’ve always been someone who doesn’t follow rules unless I think they have practical value. A lot of rules are put in place to hold people down, not let them rise up. I feel I’m closer to robinhood than a pirate, but I think you get the point in why this flag is flying at Basecamp! Game On!

I suppose Pirates and Monks, they balance each other out. Many very nice spiritual reminders are created at Basecamp to make the mood and spirit come alive.

Hiking around on a magnificent clear day. Although the temperature might be 20F, when there is low wind and full sun it is warm and crisp air at the same time. (note far in the distance you can see the tents from central basecamp).

A picture says a 1000 words.
A typical scene on the trails leading to Everest Basecamp.

THE SHERPA

The most unknown super humans on planet earth.

KHUMBU
ICE FALLS

Basecamp to Camp 1

I’ve heard about the Khumbu Ice Falls a lot, it scares the hell out of me. I’m most terrified of this part of the route. It’s a frozen cemetery with approximately 50 bodies under the ice from the past 70 years of climbing this mountain. Imagine if you were the size of a very small ant and you had to walk through a huge industrial size ice cube freezer box, and at various times the box would shake and ice would come crashing down! Cracking noises as you climb up and over huge irregular precarious ice formations. Ladders that cross over crevices that you can’t see the bottom, and often you do this all during the freezing night when you can’t see what’s around you!

At 4am I step off into the darkness of the khumbu icefalls. My breath blows into view from my headlamp as if I’m smoking a pipe. My breath twirls in circles fading into the darkness. Crampons, they make an unmistakable sound as the steel blades attached to my boots pierce the ground. It’s not a soothing noise, it’s the sound you hear when you’re moving over ice, lots of cold, hard ice.

I repeat in my mind over and over, I will not die today. Fear is the enemy.

I keep my primal caveman mind set clicking away. It is working as good today as it was 38,000 years ago. I am really doing this, I’m trying to climb Mt. Everest, but I’m scared, it’s not how you want to go into a fight. I’ll fake it until I make it, keep going, step by step.

When you leave Basecamp you are throwing yourself into the abyss; signed and sealed is your duel with the angel of death. You can be the best mountaineer in the world, but falling ice in the darkness is something the best mountaineers cannot avoid, it’s just luck or bad luck.

Click to view Mt. Everest camps

I try to get myself motivated and in a commando do-or-die mindset. It can help you more thinking you love pain and suffering than allowing fear and anxiety to strip down your confidence. Fear can be a healthy emotion to keep you alive, but not when you’re already in the belly of the beast. Fight or Flight is a real thing, and right now it’s Game On, Fight!

I’m talking to myself.
“I want more weight in my bag, more wind in my face, more ice and rock, searing sun and biting cold!”

“Where is the harder road to travel? This way. This way! I hate everything and anything that is easy, I want agony to feel that I am alive!”

The darkness turns to light at about 5am. Now I’m really scared! I am deep into the ice falls and can see how precarious the risks are all around me. I was told most people get through the icefalls in 5 hours, but I had just come from New York and I am not ready for the altitude at 19,000ft. I am moving so slow, it’s very hard!

At about 11am (after moving for 7 hours) I am about 80% of the way through the ice falls. This next section requires overcoming a vertical wall of about 40ft. This was so exciting, but I was also exhausted!

Most people told me it would take about 5 hours to get through the Khumbu ice falls. Well it took me 9 hours and 20 minutes! I needed more time to acclimate, the altitude was really slowing me down.

Lakpa T

My Sherpa Guide

Lakpa T was my dedicated partner and guide on Mt. Everest. I decided to work with this guide company Seven Summits. They did an excellent job from start to finish, and I was extremely happy with Lakpa being my dedicated guide. He was soft spoken, very attentive and monitored my condition all during the days we climbed together on the mountain. At 23 years old he was super fit. He had already climbed Everest 6 times in his life! He had also climbed K2.

His instagram is https://www.instagram.com/lakpa.climbs/

CAMP 1

Totally Exhausted

Arriving at Camp 1, my first impressions and emotional state was not in good shape. I was totally totally exhausted. I was not ready for the altitude after only arriving from New York less than 5 days ago! Here’s my 9 min video with a lot of commentary

During the day it’s hot as hell as you cook in the sun and then freeze all night in the darkness having panic attacks as you feel like you’re wearing a straight jacket wrapped in 100 layers of clothing.

I was one of the first non-sherpa climbers at Camp 1 in 2024. The views from Camp 1 were mindblowing, my god was it spectacular.

The base of Nuptse is probably the most impressive vertical rock face I’ve ever seen in my entire life.

What a moment. A great way to suffer in happiness.

CAMP 2

I was so happy to be out of the Khumbu Ice Falls...

I was also rested after a generally good experience at Camp 1. There was no danger of an avalanche at Camp 1 or the way to Camp 2. The weather was spectacular, the views incomparable! Lakpa T! Let’s Go! Camp 2!

Camp 2 Vlogging about the experience and challenges up to this point in my adventure. Lot of perspective and explanation about how things are going. Good video: Watch Here

Camp 2 to Camp 3

DELAYED!

I did NOT expect what happened next. At Camp 2 people I overheard comments from Sherpa’s that the ropes team had delays fixing ropes to Camp 4, and that the fixing team would be delayed getting further up the mountain. The delay comments kept getting worse and worse, here’s a video where I come to terms with the situation. It becomes extremely frustrating to think I climbed half way up the mountain and now have to go back to Basecamp! I explain in this video about the issues.

Well, I was wrong. No ropes, No Oxygen above Camp 3… then it’s BACK to Basecamp!

I was SO frustrated with having climbed nearly half way up Mt. Everest, and now I was going back down to Basecamp. I had secret hopes of spending only two weeks on the mountain and setting a very fast pace to Summit and return back to New York in record time.

The reality was I was very fortunate to turn back and go to Basecamp. My lungs were deteriorating in the high altitude, I needed more time to acclimate. My cough was getting worse and worse (they call it the Khumbu-Cough, everyone has it!).

I suffer through the Ice Falls again, but not as frightened as my first trip through; I suppose I was being desensitized to the danger the more time I spent in the Ice Falls.

High Altitude Breathing

Here’s natural respiration as I was heading from Camp 2 to Camp 3 at about 22,000ft elevation on a moderate incline.

I decided that spending up to 10 days at Base Camp waiting for the ropes and oxygen to be supplied further up the mountain would be very boring. A basecamp doctor recommended that I go to a much lower altitude to recover from my serious cough.

So I left Basecamp.

NAMCHE BAZAAR

A most unusual mountain village in the Himalayas

Part of my reason for leaving was that I would really enjoy spending time in Namche Bazaar. I had been there a year before while trekking with my kids. Namche might be the most awesome mountain village in the world. I also dreamed of a comfortable bed, fresh vegetables and a hot shower. I would meet with a doctor there to do some more tests if I had a lung infection and rest at about 11,000ft elevation. I would spend 3 days there, then hike back to Basecamp over 2-3 days.

Special thanks to the Mountain Medical Institute

BACK TO BASECAMP

Trekking From Namche Bazaar back to Basecamp over 2 days (about 20 miles distance)

Ok back to getting to the top of this mountain!
I felt great after 3 days in Namche and taking antibiotics, it was time to head back to Basecamp!

Getting Very Excited heading back to Basecamp, crossing bridge I get a surge of energy.

Stopping at a very special buddhist monastery I was blessed by many monks and given 10 red stands of string as a blessing, this was such an honor and experience. I couldn’t take any photographs inside the monastery, it was a very special moment and the wind changed for me after this experience. I felt welcomed by the mountains, I had a sense of renewal that this challenge ahead of me had some wings and tailwinds in my direction.

After my amazing monk blessing, I am Soooo pumped up, I am totally alive, the wind, the energy totally changed in my favor. For the first time I feel like this is going to happen! I am going to summit and see the top of the world. In a moment of exhilaration I recorded this 9 second clip heading across the last suspension bridge getting closer to basecamp: Game On!

The Grand Finale

LEAVING BASECAMP TO CLIMB MT. EVEREST

I am rested, I am blessed (by the monks), I am healthy, I am confident!

My 3rd trek through the IceFalls!

In my first trip to Camp 1 it took me 9 hours and 20 minutes to get through the ice falls. Now 2.5 weeks later after acclimatizing and well rested it only took me 5 hours and 20 minutes, and I felt very strong throughout the effort.

CAMP1 AGAIN!

I arrived at CAMP 1 in good spirits.
Lots of snow.

The camp was much more crowded this time, western climbers in many tents, lots of activity. It was snowing a lot more over the prior days and all day at Camp 1. It felt very serious, the journey ahead was unknown and bigger than I could have imagined.

I stayed overnight at Camp 1. I had a terrible night of panic attacks, I couldn't sleep, but then when the sun came up and the views of the mountains came back into view all the ideas of leaving faded away fast.

The view with the snow was simply majestic, no words can really be said.

CAMP 2

I left for Camp 2 early that morning with the excitement building.

Looking up towards Camp 2, the sun was laser-beaming us that day!

CAMP 3

My first impressions after just arriving at Camp 3, I’m tired!

I thought I wouldn’t need oxygen, boy was I wrong! About half way to Camp 3 I felt like a truck hit me! The altitude became impossibly difficult, my body just wouldn’t move.

CAMP 3 TO CAMP 4

South Col, South Shoulder, The Death Zone.

I am so glad I filmed so much of my first moments coming into Camp 4. I felt exhilarated and truly living a grand moment in my life.

This place is where the death zone starts, it’s both terrifying and a major accomplishment to reach this point on the mountain.

This was a MOMENT of Glory for me. I was in AWE being in this place.

Death Grip.

It’s hard to tell from this picture, my hands, especially my right hand, was so swollen from gripping ropes, often holding all my body weight with one hand to secure myself slipping. Although I was almost always connected to a fixed rope, you don’t let go. I was holding on for dear life.

Getting My Nerve and Courage

While at Camp 4 I felt in a dream-like-state. I am breathing bottled oxygen all the time while I struggling to rest in my tent. I can’t tell if the 26,000ft of elevation is blurring my mind or its the exhaustion and fear of what’s ahead.

From this point up it’s called the death zone. This is the jumping off point, I am talking to myself, mumbling inside my oxygen mask cursing the doubt and fears that somehow try to enter my mind.

“God damn it, everyone just wants easy, pass the buck, white glove service, 1 click. Done! No! Not Easy!” I keep thinking, my mind racing encouraging thoughts.

“When the robots and Ai take over the robots won’t have to kill us, they know we’ll all self implode automatically from total void of self enlightenment, suicide is giving up, I will never give up! Climbing Everest is my commitment; I will never surrender, my salvation is only found through the locker of pain.”

“I would rather die freezing on the mountain alone with my dignity rather than pretend my happiness is in the lore of luxury and excess. Never do I bow to the gods of social media and plastic surgery. I would rather dine with rats than have a butler or housekeeper to wash my sanity and self worth away.”

I get myself into a twisted state, I will not back down, I am going for it. I sign my name on the line to a duel with the angel of death.
I imagine God watching from the sidelines with a shaking head of disappointment; [God says:] ‘why must he risk everything… I will teach him a lesson he will never forget’.

Camp 4 South Col to Mt. Everest Summit

SUMMIT PUSH!

Then it happened:

THE SUMMIT OF MT. EVEREST

I looked up, and suddenly it was there. Right there. The clouds parted, I was practically standing on top of the mountain before I even realized it. I made an audible ‘oh my god there it is’.

The adrenaline was through the roof, my respiration as if I was finishing a marathon, every sense and moment was heightened beyond what I can explain in words; all along with a mountain of panic and fear mixed in. I have never felt so terrified and excited in the same moment. My God, was this an experience of a lifetime.

I turned around, and to my shock I could see Lakpa T. through the clouds, I could see him, wearing my warm red jacket! He was coming, slowly, how could he possibly be moving without oxygen!??

As I was approaching the final effort there was another sherpa and his western climber just leaving the summit. I hardly noticed them as my entire focus was on the frozen tibetan prayer flags draped over metal anchoring posts on the summit.

I had the entire moment to myself, it was as if I was at the feet of a throne, the gates to heaven open for me to peek inside. If you could imagine God’s feet were just beyond the clouds.

Imagine It. The wind, blowing snow, frigid temperature, low visibility, exhaustion, frozen dead bodies, ghostly clouds hovering by, my frosted ice clothing and forced heavy breathing…. My God I will never forget this experience for the rest of my days. Trembling in a wild state of fear, joy, panic, agony, elation, disbelief.

I rustled my inner jacket pocket to get out my gopro camera.

All the prepared remarks and salutations to my friends, family and coworkers were totally void from my mind, there would be none of the planned speaking or ceremonies. I was in pure survival mode. I was terrified. Record the summit video and get the hell off this mountain!

EVEREST
SUMMIT

29,035FT

If you watch other videos and look at pictures of people on the summit of Mt. Everest, none, not one person will be wearing a midweight ski-jacket.

Lakpa T is wearing his full down bodysuit, with my very heavy weight down red jacket. The jacket is rated for -40F, a south-pole jacket made by Feathered Friends which makes very cold weather expedition gear.

I am freezing cold. Lakpa T has no oxygen, he literally saved my life by giving me his oxygen system. But now I’m worried I am going to freeze to death on the way back down the mountain. How can I ask Lakpa for my jacket under these circumstances! The CODE RED situation is not over! The summit is only Half Way!

I clearly understand how and why so many climbers die on the way down. They are motivated at any cost to get to the summit, they are charged up, going up, warm, moving, then on the way down everything collapses.

Lakpa T has my frozen oxygen mask over his face, you can see he is holding the mask off his skin, because the membrane that lets in ambient air is totally blocked and frozen. He needs to hold the mask off of his face so ambient air can enter the chamber where the pure oxygen is possibly still flowing (but I was sure the hose was totally frozen blocked).

The summit is Half-Way.

BACK DOWN
TO CAMP 4

It’s not over yet. Most people die on the way back down!
It was a race to get back to Camp 4. Lakpa said I had about 2.5 hours of oxygen left, and it had taken 10 hours to go up from Camp 4 to the summit. I had to go down 4x faster!

I turned down my regulator to conserve my oxygen reserves, if I ran out of oxygen I wouldn’t be able to stay on my feet at that altitude. Running out of oxygen was 1 problem, another problem was hypothermia. I was so cold traversing back over the ridgeline, my hands and feet went numb. I felt I couldn’t ask Lakpa for my jacket back (at least not until I felt I might freeze to death). So the alternative was to go as fast and strenuously as possible to generate body heat.

The 1 and only video I took heading back down the mountain. I was the 4th western climber to summit in 2024, there were a lot of people coming up behind me that day

More Frozen Bodies

On the way up we hiked almost entirely in the dark. What was startling to see on the way back down from the summit (it was daylight now), was all the dead bodies in the snow. Often it was only a body part that was visible in a snowbank. The snow would drift and expose (or cover) the dead climbers. I saw an arm, a leg, a backpack not sure if it was attached to someone or not. You weren’t going to spend time inspecting to find out.

Each time I saw a frozen body I stopped briefly, stared. Thinking. I could have been (or might be!) one of the estimated 200+ bodies that have been left on the mountain over the last 100 years. I considered taking pictures as a reminder, but it felt too disrespectful to do that.

Let them rest in peace, not use their misfortune as a tourist prop to take pictures.

Camp 4 was very close now, less than 10 minutes up the slope from Camp 4 I saw the last body.

It was almost entirely visible out of the snow. It looked like the climber had just laid down and was taking a rest, looking face up at the sky, goggles, mask on, crampons secured to the boots. The clothing colors had faded from so much sun exposure and the jacket fabric was becoming shredded from the wind. Frozen, frozen forever. A battlefield casualty. I found it meaningful not to pass by quickly. I felt it necessary to stop and show some level of respect, to honor what must have been the most valiant effort. Each of these climbers didn’t give up until their last breath.

Lakpa’s Oxygen system works again, and my Oxygen runs out!

When we got down below 27,000ft and out of the wind Lakpa T was able to successfully melt the frozen face mask and his oxygen flow was working properly again. I still cannot believe he was able to function at such high altitudes without supplemental oxygen, it is simply astounding.

We are just about at Camp 4 where we had 2 more bottles of oxygen. My regulator showed I had 5% volume left in my bottle, I had just made it, or so I thought!

Lakpa had gone ahead of me and was already at camp 4 as I was approaching. About 100ft from the tent I suddenly felt my body shutting down. In what felt like just 2-3 seconds I went from walking normally down hill to laying on the ground gasping for air. I had literally collapsed on the ground, I knew right away I was out of oxygen. I am seeing black spots again, I yell out as if I had been thrown overboard into shark infested waters, HELLLPP!!! OXYGEN!! I NEED OXYGEN!

Lakpa hears me, he races to get the new bottle from our tent and rushes over to me and smashes the mask onto my face. I was totally losing consciousness, I had zero ability to stand on my own 2 feet. This is how all these people die on Everest. They run out of oxygen and then freeze to death, I totally get it. It’s called the Death Zone for a reason.

Laying on the ground, totally drained in every way. I had been awake and moving for 30+ hours. I am destroyed. I am still in the death zone at 26,000ft (8000 meters). Lakpa and I know we must get down to camp 2 before dark when I will run out of our last oxygen bottle. I have to get up and keep going no matter what. So I dig in. We don’t rest at camp 4 at all, it’s a race to get below 22,000ft where I don’t need supplemental oxygen to rest and sleep without medical risks.

The crowds are coming up the mountain from camp 3, it was a slog to get back down and not get complacent or lazy about staying clipped into all the safety lines. One slip and not connected to the fixed ropes and you’re 100% dead sliding down 2000ft of vertical.

2 hours later we get to camp 3 at 23,500 ft.

My hands feel like they’ve been run over by a truck, the gripping of ropes while going down was endless; my gloves shredded from the effort. I’m deliriously tired.

We keep going down toward camp 2. I’m about 20 minutes from camp 2 and my oxygen tank is empty again, this time I don’t feel like I am going to pass out, but I absolutely cannot keep going. I slump to the ground, no chance I can finish the last 20 minutes without more oxygen. Lakpa uses his radio and calls the camp 2 manager and says he needs oxygen, man down! I tell Lakpa I have to close my eyes and sleep until they come with another oxygen tank. He sits next to me, I feel safe to take a nap while waiting. Another sherpa comes with an oxygen tank. They turn it up to level 6, I’m back to life, I can think again. Lakpa takes my backpack, he’s going to carry it the rest of the way to camp 2. I walk like a zombie just holding the oxygen tank under my arm. I’m done man. I am totally totally done.

Back at Camp 2, I feel like I am going to survive this thing. I crawl into my tent and turn off the oxygen. I’m ok to breathe heavy and spend my last night on this mountain suffering just a little bit… Tomorrow I am going to head back to New York and my life will be safe (and happily boring) again.

GOING HOME

What else can I say?

Would I do it again? Emotionally, yes. Literally, No. It’s just too dangerous.

I think it’s good I waited until I was 47 to climb Mt. Everest, because if I was 25 or even 35 years old I’m quite sure I wouldn’t be able to resist the draw and adrenaline high, I’d be climbing other huge mountains and maybe end up like one of those frozen bodies. Being closer to 50 years old I have a bit more sensibility and of course I can’t let the people down in my life that I care about and that need me.

But I will play these videos many times and relive the moments in my dreams for the rest of my days.

About 5 days after I had sumitted Mt. Everest, I was back in New York and my frostbite skin was starting to peel off my face.

In Closing:I do believe the most valued experiences in our lives come from enduring and overcoming our greatest challenges. Wishing for a life of easy, thinking that easy is where you will find your happiness is a huge lie and mistake. I wish for massive challenges that I can overcome. Life itself by my definition is all about the struggle and ability to overcome. The overcome is Life.

Risking your life voluntarily like I did on Mt. Everest is not something I am proud of. I wouldn’t recommend looking to put yourself in a life threatening situation, afterall the goal is to stay alive! But I wholeheartedly recommend striving for tremendously difficult goals in your life, for me that comes more naturally in the form of using my body at a physical level. I like challenges that rely mostly on my own resources and ability to control the outcome. Running, trekking, ultra endurance of mental and physical abilities have given me more ultimate joy than any fancy car, house or material possessions. I hope anyone reading this will find the courage to sign up with something grand.

Don’t wait. Go for it.
Michael Arnstein

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