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Former NFL player summits Mount Everest while snow blind

Mark Pattison completes the Seven Summit series
Published: Jun. 8, 2021 at 11:42 PM MDT
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SUN VALLEY, Idaho (KMVT/KSVT) — A local man is back home after summiting Mount Everest.

With the feat, Mark Pattison became just the second NFL player ever to climb the Seven Summits, or the highest peaks on each continent.

May 23, 2021 will be a day Pattison will never forget, the day he summited Mount Everest.

“When we woke up that morning and started our climb at 12:30, it was awful, we had snow, sleet coming across, blowing hard,” Pattison said. “All of that resolved itself around 4:30 in the morning and we had beautiful sunrise, my problem is that I ended up getting snow blindness.”

Pattison couldn’t see out of one of his eyes.

“And it can be a very scary experience when you are relying on your safety lines hooked into the mountain and they’re not working and you’re looking straight off this cliff,” he exclaimed.

And due to a language barrier with his Sherpa, provided even a greater challenge.

“He didn’t comprehend just exactly what I was going through,” Pattison said. “I had no energy and I couldn’t see out of my eye and on the way down I ran out of oxygen, and he was in such a hurry to get back to base camp, he had left me, so I was up on the balcony about 27,500 feet with no oxygen and gasping air. A Russian is coming down and he checks my tank and he is {speaking in Russian}, so I go, ‘please tell my Sherpa to stop.”

After summiting Mount Everest, he had hoped to climb Mount Lhotse, the fourth highest peak in the world within 24 hours, but his mind and body canceled those efforts.

“I came down and I was just like ‘there was no way I’m going to end up as a permanent resident on the mountain.”

The mountain is known as the world’s highest graveyard, claiming the lives of more than 300 climbers in the past 80 years.

“So when I got over Hillary Step, there is my tentmate from Antarctica that I spent three weeks with and he didn’t make it in 2019 and he’s laying there,” Pattison explained.

In fact, one of the Sherpas delivering supplies in his group, also died.

“You have to do what you have to do to survive and get through that, that you don’t have time for empathy.”

The journey lasted 70 days and he endured severe weather.

“You hear an avalanche in your tent and say oh, it’s just another avalanche.”

And while the reward of climbing Mount Everest will provide a lifetime of memories, the support behind the climb, from the community to the NFL raised more than $56,000 for epilepsy awareness through the foundation called Higher Ground.

“There is such much danger that is up there, I had numerous people that were just seriously worried and sending a lot of prayers my way,” Pattison said.

It’s because of his daughter Emilia, being the driving force.

“I kept saying that if Emilia can fight through this epilepsy, I can get up this mountain.”

Pattison was a wide receiver for the Los Angeles Raiders and New Orleans Saints. The NFL Network is working on a documentary of Pattison’s journey set to air approximately September 1. He would like for it to premiere in Sun Valley, along with a panel discussion.

Follow Mark Pattison on social media:

Facebook: @NFL2SevenSummits

Instagram: @MarkPattisonNFL

Twitter: MarkPattisonNFL

LinkedIn: Mark Pattison

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