Descending Everest


I do a lot of reading and, for me, the most compelling stories are the ones about climbing on Mt.Everest. Climbing Everest doesn’t make much sense, it is extremely difficult, it involves a lot of money, it takes its toll on relationships, the failure rate is extremely high, and if you do reach the summit you still have to descend through the “death zone.”Балконы

The death zone in mountaineering refers to altitudes above a certain point (generally 26,000 ft.) where the amount of oxygen is not enough to sustain human life. Many deaths have occured in the death zone, either directly (loss of vital functions) or indirectly (wrong decisions made under stress or physical weakening leading to accidents).

I have never climbed Everest, but my life has been a constant adventure of extreme undertakings. ALS is my Everest, and the effects of this diseases mirrors life at 26,000 ft.  I have reached the summit and am preparing for the descent

It has been predetermined that I will not make it through the death zone. Do I give up, sit back and accept my fate? Not going to happen! I’ll continue to move on, adapt, and use every fiber of my being to savor each and every day.

Much like climbing Everest there is a spiritual element to it, and a feeling of accomplishment no matter what the outcome. I can truly say “I’m doing it my way!”


  1. Rene Gentry Smith

    Eloquently spoken, dear friend. You’ve inspired me to evaluate every one of my own days (not predetermined at all yet), and savor every one. It’s actually a big challenge, as I get distracted with all the little details that can sap energy and suck up time. At the end of every day almost, Ron and I say to each other, “What happened to the day?” For the most part, we are just astonished at how fast the time passes, but have been fortunate to have spent our time well. (Yesterday we kayaked Elk Lake in the Cascades for example.) Have another good one, Fredinator! Love.

  2. Nathan & Ashley Bakkala


  3. Mandie Dougherty

    Hi Fred,

    You are so inspiring! I lost my Uncle to ALS at age 32. He watched his youngest son turn 4 just 2 days before he passed. That was his Everest, making it to be able to celebrate one last time with his boy. I enjoy your blog, and hope to see you at the Walk to Defeat ALS in September! Keep on keepin on Fred!

  4. I would fully expect you to continue to do it your way. You’re an inspiration Fredo!

  5. Robert C. McKenzie

    Fred, What an Inspriation you are to others, On our Trip to Central America The Route of the Maya 8/11/2011 That was the date I first met you, and I said to myself a Man with a Walker and a Wheelchair, No Way can he be doing this trip. Man was I wrong, you did what we all did and if you did,nt,you rested made your pictures and kept in touch with family and friends. I will never forget the Zipline, I had walked so much I was exhausted and barely made it across that 431 ft line. I can still hear you hollering on the way down enjoying every minuite. I will also remember you and return to your web site from time to time to see where in the world FRED is. Live your life a day at a time and continue to travel and do the things you like to do. Your Central Americian Trip Friend Robert McKenzie

  6. Well said!
    I am on the same journey. Had it for about two and a half years. Bulbar onset, meaning I’ve lost my speech and the ability to eat. I have adapted to both, text to speech and a peg tube for food. You have met Alan Dymerski, he’s my youngest brother. Yes live your life one day at a time.

  7. Hey Fred,
    I will always remember our awesome times at Silvertip, and other adventures. You always make the best and put the most into every adventure. You bring new meaning to “making a difference in other people’s lives” and I wish only the best of God’s strength for you.
    Love ya buddy!

  8. Hi Fred, Our time together in Thailand is most probably the most productive era of my time living in this beautiful country. It was your capacity to give yourself so completely to those around you (especially the kids) that was so inspiring to a selfish old fucker such as my own self. Now, from what I get from this blog, that fantastic body of yours is finally giving out and the end of a life lived so completely is at last approaching. I know that if there’s any sadness involved with this realization it’s the fact that aren’t finished doing all the things that you could have possibly done in you time on the planet but that’s strictly the view of a man who could never get enough of what life has to offer and is an exception of we normal individuals to be inspired by. It’s been a pleasure to have been a small part in a life so well lived. Love, Ron

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