Scottsdale Realtor Clayton Wolfe reached a goal this year that fewer than 7,000 people have ever reached.
In May, he summited Mount Everest in Nepal and raised more than $14,000 for children’s charities in Arizona.
The feat did not come without delay, however.
He had been training for around seven years and was first set to do the trek in 2020.
“Nine days before I left for this expedition, COVID, the pandemic, shut down the world and it was canceled,” Wolfe said.
If at first you don’t succeed, try again.
Wolfe tried the trek again in 2021, but COVID is not done thwarting his plans yet.
Fifty-three days after the start of this second attempt, at 26,000 feet, one of his teammates fell ill. For everyone’s safety, they were unable to complete the ascent.
“I’m stubborn by nature and I achieve my goals with everything I have,” he said. “I re-enrolled for 2022.”
His training took him everywhere.
“I did avalanche training in Colorado, ice climbing training, many different types of training, to help me prepare for the big mountain.”
He also used the valley’s mountains to his advantage, hiking several times a week. Some days, he said, he would climb Piestewa Peak multiple times while carrying 50 pounds of water on his back.
“Piestewa Peak has the perfect steps to climb,” he said. “When you get to Camelback, especially when you have a lot of weight, the step may be too high and you risk injuring your hips or knees.”
While he felt prepared, the Everest Expedition takes its toll on him.
“It’s absolutely physically demanding,” he said. “You’re putting your body through something that you may never, absolutely ever see again, but the mental aspect is usually one of the hardest and it can be for a lot of reasons.”
The ending turned out to be the most mentally challenging part of his journey.
He had to queue for hours, braving the elements, to reach the top. About 150 other climbers were also attempting to complete their ascent of Everest that day as well.
But then, on May 11, 2022, this Valley realtor climbed 29,035 feet in just 21 days – a rapid ascent as he had already acclimatized his body before the trip.
“It’s surreal, it’s hard to put into words, I really get teary eyed when you’re up there,” he said. “You are on top of the world. No one at this time is bigger than you at this time.”
As if the climb itself wasn’t enough, he also raised around $14,000 for Arizona children’s charities through the Scottsdale 2030 Club.
He sold 140 gold tokens before the trip that took him to the top with him.
“Not only did all of these people help me raise money for a really good cause, but they also got a little piece of the top.”
He hopes his journey will inspire others to achieve their goals, no matter how many times it takes.
Wolfe actually has a bigger lifetime goal called the Explorers Grand Slam.
He must climb the highest mountain of all the continents and cross-country ski across the North and South Poles.
Only 60 people have done it in the history of mankind.
He’s climbed four of the seven mountains so far, and now he’s training to cross-country ski across the South Pole next year.