Great Expectations A former professional football player and South Bay resident turns to the world’s tallest mountains on a journey to accomplish an unprecedented goal and tackle one remaining athletic achievement.
WRITTEN BY JENNIE NUNN PHOTOGRAPHED BY JEFF BERTING
ormer National Football League player Mark Pattison doesn’t shy away from challenge or adversity. The Seattle native, who hung up his cleats and retired from the playing field nearly three decades ago, has taken on a new life conquest: the world’s Seven Summits. The 56-year-old father of two, who played wide receiver for four seasons for the Los Angeles Rams, Los Angeles Raiders and New Orleans Saints, now has four major summits under his belt since taking on the lofty goal of becoming the first NFL player to ascend the Seven Summits on seven continents. He climbed
Mount Kilimanjaro in Africa in 2013, Mount Elbrus in Russia in 2014, Mount Kosciuszko in Australia in 2015, Mount Aconcagua in South America in 2016 and Denali in Alaska in 2018. The remaining two? Mount Everest, Nepal, and Vinson Massif, Antarctica. For Mark, who splits time between Sun Valley, Idaho, and Hermosa Beach, embarking on this crusade six years ago hasn’t been easy—but he hasn’t wavered. He has endured terrifying electrical storms on top of Mount Elbrus; not showering for more than three weeks at a time and carrying 70-pound packs on Mount Denali; and
battling altitudes of more than 22,000 feet on Mount Kosciuszko. “I carry a necklace around my neck with a key that says ‘Believe,’” says Mark of his climbing ritual. “Whenever I start to doubt myself, I feel my key around my neck and remember that I need to believe in my goal. So I keep on taking one step after another without any ‘quit’ in me until I reach my goal. No fear.” Mark, who grew up going to Husky games with his grandfather and camping with his father, says the journey from football to mountaineering wasn’t merely by accident. “I think a lot of times you’re a product of