Sun Valley man seeks to become first NFL player to climb Seven Summits

Mark Pattison has Mt. Everest left in journey
Former NFL player and current Sun Valley resident is gearing up to climb Mt. Everest and Mt. Lhotse.
Published: Feb. 23, 2021 at 11:30 PM MST
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SUN VALLEY, Idaho (KMVT/KSVT) — A Sun Valley resident is reaching for the stars, literally. He’s working to become the first and oldest NFL player to climb the highest peaks on each continent, known as the Seven Summits.

All within a days time, Mark Pattison is training to climb Mount Everest and one of the tallest mountains in Asia.

The 59 year-old shares his journey with KMVT from the highest level of football, to being one of the greatest mountaineers.

It’s 7:30 a.m. and Mark Pattison and Jim Mora are training at Bald Mountain.

“I’m usually chasing on the way up, on the way down, he’s ready to go,” explained Mora.

The pair were teammates at the University of Washington, before going in different directions.

Pattison went onto play for the Raiders, Rams and Saints as a wide receiver. While Mora began his coaching career, that spanned over 30 years, before retiring in 2017 as the UCLA head coach.

“One of the things that has been really amazing is when you put so much effort into the training and grinding up the hill, I’m so fortunate that my best friend Jim Mora is here living fulltime in Sun Valley,” Pattison said.

Mora and Pattison moved up three years ago and use River Run to train, especially when they skin up the mountain

Mora added, “he’s ready to go. and is focused, has a tremendous job and also got something that gives him a higher purpose.”

That higher purpose is Pattison’s quest to finish the Seven Summits and raise money for Higher Ground.

Pattison was supposed to climb Mt. Everest in 2020, but those plans changed due to the pandemic.

“In partnerships with Higher Ground, the NFL, the Raiders and many other very generous contributors, we’re up over $50,000 right now,” Pattison said.

“Such an amazing advocate for making sure people understand the importance of sports and recreation and helping people rehabilitate and reintegrate into their communities,” said Higher Ground director Kate Dobbie.

While Pattison scales mountains, his daughter Emilia is taking on her own Everest, epilepsy. Last year in a panel discussion, the University of Arizona junior shared her story of a near death experience from her seizures.

Emilia Patterson explained, “I landed face down and I wasn’t breathing, and if my roommate didn’t leave the room at the time she did, I wouldn’t be alive.”

Pattison has completed six of the Seven Summits, the hardest so far? Denali.

“The first year I tried it, we got pushed back by -80 degree weather, that was challenging and difficult and I didn’t want to lose my fingers in toes,” Pattison exclaimed. “So we came back and did it again in 2018.”

In a little over a month, he’s taking on Everest, and Lhotse, the tallest and fourth tallest mountains in the world.

“Holy cow! What he’s about to do in a month and what an incredible role model for all of our participants at Higher Ground, be it our kids with disabilities to our adults and our veterans,” Dobbie said.

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