Mark Pattison completed his final check Friday before leaving for the final trek of his journey up the mountain.
If all goes well, the former NFL wide receiver will reach the summit of Mount Everest, the highest mountain in the world, and neighboring Lhotse. That feat would put him in an elite club of hikers who have reached the “seven summits,” meaning they have climbed the highest peak on all seven continents in the world.
"My confidence has been building tremendously, trying to check off the boxes of the unknown, of what’s ahead," Pattison told USA Today’s Tom Schad on Monday from a small village in Nepal.
"My brain, the way I’m wired, I’m very much the optimist. And so I don’t see a scenario where I don’t see myself on top of both Everest and Lhotse."
What are the 7 summits?
Only about 500 people have hit all seven peaks, according to NPR, and Pattison would be the second former NFL player to pull that feat off, per USA Today. Former defensive lineman Craig Hanneman did so in 2019.
The seven mountains on the list are:
Australia | Mount Kosciuszko — 7,310 ft.
Antarctica | Mount Vinson — 16,050 ft.
Russia, Europe | Mount Elbrus — 18,510 ft.
Tanzania, Africa | Mount Kilimanjaro — 19,341 ft.
Alaska, North America | Mount McKinley (Denali) — 20,310 ft.
Argentina, South America | Mount Aconcagua — 22,841 ft.
Napal/Tibet, Asia | Mount Everest — 29,032 ft.
There is no correct order in climbing the seven mountains, and no time limit. One must simply make it to the top of each mountain in their lifetime.
Pattison, per USA Today, first did Mount Kilimanjaro in 2013. He then went to Europe, Australia and South America. Denali was next, though that took him two tries due to weather, before he went to Antarctica in 2019.
Everest ‘throws everything at you’
Pattison spent three seasons in the league from 1986-88, and spent time with he Los Angeles Raiders, Los Angeles Rams and New Orleans Saints. The former University of Washington standout recorded 12 career receptions and 152 yards over 18 games.
The 59-year-old now serves as an executive for Maven and Sports Illustrated.
Now on the cusp of his goal, Pattison is facing by far the toughest journey of the seven climbs.
According to The New York Times, two climbers died Wednesday on the mountain’s “death zone,” which sits above 26,000 ft. They marked the first deaths of the climbing season. Per the report, 11 people died trying to make the trek in 2019.
"It throws everything at you — from avalanches to crevasses to ice walls that you have to climb, to altitude," Pattison said, via USA Today. "You’ve just got to be on your game, and you’ve got to know what you’re doing, in order to have a successful outcome."
Knowing how dangerous the climb is, Pattison and his team are taking it slow and have been at it systematically for weeks. Though that’s grueling, he knows patience is the best way forward.
"I’m going back to those corny college football and professional football cliches," Pattison said, via USA Today. "One step at a time. One game at a time. Don’t look [too far] ahead."
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