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Scottsdale man hikes Mt. Everest to raise money for Arizona kids

Posted at 8:03 AM, Jul 25, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-26 09:31:14-04

Scottsdale Realtor Clayton Wolfe achieved a goal this year that fewer than 7,000 people ever have.

In May, he summited Mount Everest in Nepal and raised more than $14,000 for Arizona children's charities.

The feat didn't come without delays, though.

He had trained for about seven years and was first ready to make the trek in 2020.

"Nine days before I left for that expedition, COVID, the pandemic, shut the world down and it was canceled," Wolfe said.

If, at first, you don't succeed, try again.

Wolfe tried the hike again in 2021, but COVID wasn't done foiling his plans just yet.

Fifty-three days into that second attempt, at 26,000 feet, one of his teammates got sick. For the safety of everyone, they couldn't finish the climb.

"I'm stubborn in nature, and I go for my goals with everything I got," he said. "I signed up again for 2022."

His training has taken him all over.

"I did avalanche training out in Colorado, ice climbing training, lots of different kinds of training, to help prepare me for the big mountain."

He also used the Valley's mountains to his advantage, hiking multiple times a week. Some days, he said, he'd summit Piestewa Peak several times while carrying 50 pounds of water on his back.

"Piestewa Peak has the perfect footsteps on the way up," he said. "When you get to Camelback, especially when you have a lot of weight, the step might be too high and you can risk injury to your hips or your knee."

While he felt prepared, the Everest expedition takes a toll.

"It's absolutely physically demanding," he said. "You put your body through something that you might never put it through again, absolutely, but the mental aspect is generally one of the toughest and it can be for many reasons."

The end proved to be the most mentally difficult part of his journey.

He had to wait in line for hours, braving the elements, to reach the summit. About 150 other climbers were also trying to finish their Everest climb that day as well.

But then, on May 11, 2022, this Valley Realtor made it all 29,035 feet in just 21 days - a speed ascent because he had already acclimated his body prior to the trip.

"It's surreal, it's hard to put into words, definitely got tears in your eyes when you're up there," he said. "You're on top of the world. No one at that point in time is taller than you right now."

As if the climb itself wasn't enough of an accomplishment, he also raised about $14,000 for Arizona children's charities through the Scottsdale 2030 Club.

He sold 140 golden tokens prior to the trip that made it to the summit with him.

"Not only did all of these people help me raise money for a really good cause, but they got a little piece of the summit too."

He hopes his journey inspires others to complete their goals, no matter how many times it takes them.

Wolfe actually has a bigger lifetime goal called the Explorer's Grand Slam.

He has to summit the highest mountain on every continent, and cross-country ski through both the north and south poles.

Only 60 people have accomplished it in the history of mankind.

So far, he's climbed four of the seven mountains, and now he's training to cross-country ski through the South Pole next year.