Mike Posner on climbing Mount Everest: ‘It was utterly overwhelming’


When Mike Posner reached the summit of Mount Everest on the morning of June 1, he was overwhelmed by a rush of emotions.

“Everything I invested to get there came back in the form of tears,” Posner said on Wednesday on the phone from Colorado, where he was safely back on the ground. “The emotions of the moment were completely overwhelming. I cried during my training on the peaks of the mountains, but this one was a little different.”

Reaching the summit of Everest, elevation 29,000 feet and making some changes, was the culmination of a year and a half of Posner’s life during which he was preparing to climb the world’s tallest mountain. And for the Southfield-born singer-songwriter, who sang a song called “Top of the World” in 2013, reaching literally the world’s best was an achievement that will never, well, be surpassed.

“It’s pretty crazy, man. I can’t believe I did it,” says Posner, the Grammy nominee behind the smash hits “I Took a Pill in Ibiza” and “Cooler Than Me”. He dedicated his trip to raising funds for the Detroit Justice Center, a Detroit not-for-profit law firm, citing his father Jon Posner, who served as a Detroit criminal defense attorney for 40 years before his death in 2017. he raised $ 236,000 of his $ 250,000 goal.

He is still working on his ascension feelings and in a few days he will be going on a silent retreat at a Buddhist monastery in Colorado to reflect on the adventure and its meaning.

But after starting his training for Everest immediately after his hike through America in 2019, he doesn’t want to take on any major sporting tasks in the foreseeable future.

“My plan is to just stop and do nothing,” says Posner, “and I can create something out of this emptiness.”

Climb the mountain

Posner began thinking about climbing Everest during his six-month trek through America. Shortly after completing the trip from Asbury Park, New Jersey, to Venice Beach, California on October 18, 2019, he climbed Mount Hood, Oregon, which at 11,250 feet is no slouch, but about 40% the size of Everest Has .

Together with his trainer, Dr. Jon Kedrowski, Posner climbed high peaks in the US and South America for the remainder of 2019 and all of 2020. In total, they made their way to more than 70 mountains to prepare for the great mission.

Kedrowski, who had climbed Everest four times before, knew Posner had the work ethic to make it to the top and he worked to teach him everything else.

“He bought 100% in it and was really exceptional,” says Kedrowski. “He’s a very talented musician, he makes a living from it, and you can see why, because he works his ass off doing it. It was the same when training for it.”

Posner announced his climb to Everest and started his fundraiser in late March, and he arrived in Nepal in early April. Once on the mountain, he was faced with physical challenges due to acclimatization to the extreme altitude, external challenges in the form of avalanches and other weather-related problems and internal challenges, such as the question of whether it was all worth it or not.

MORE: Walking the walk: Mike Posner travels across America

“I would have given up almost 100 times,” says Posner, but he knew that in most cases, giving up meant death. He explains that he feels exhausted for days, falls asleep at night and wakes up gasping for breath and repeating this process over and over again.

There were times, especially in Base Camp 2, which is about 2,000 meters up the mountain, when Posner said to himself: “Man, that’s stupid,” he says.

“In a way, it’s kind of stupid, you know, but it’s also beautiful and amazing. I think it’s both at the same time. ”

Posner’s ascent began around 8:30 p.m. on May 31, and continued through the night until he and his group, which included a pair of Sherpas, Dawa Chirring, and Dawa Dorje, arrived at the top of the mountain around 4:30 a.m. Posner and his team spent about 20 minutes that Posner says felt like 5 minutes and soak it all in before the next part of the journey began.

“Then you have to go back down,” he says.

Mike Posner and his team on Mount Everest.

About 100 people climbed the summit that day, all of whom Posner overtook on the way back. “There’s only one rope,” he says. “It can get a little nerve-wracking.”

It was an 18-hour day overall, and Posner says his body was dehydrated and began to give off strange smells that he couldn’t exactly identify. “It’s not BO, but I was like, ‘Is that my endocrine gland dumping?'”

After another rigorous days of descent, Posner hit the ground and reached his hotel in Kathmandu, where he slept for 24 hours. After waking up and taking a COVID-19 test so he could return home to the United States, he flew to Colorado and slept another 12 hours upon arrival.

Kedrowski was very impressed with his student, and he said it was a way for Posner to escape the pressures of his life and focus on something else.

“I know he went through a lot with his father’s death and other things to do with the music industry,” says Kedrowski. “This stuff changes him for the better.”

There’s still a lot to sift through, but Posner’s immediate clue, he says, is that he needs a break.

“I never really stopped, I’ve only been going for three years,” he says. “So I’m going to spend a couple of weeks here and stop doing nothing, and I think I’ll have a better sense of what this all means.”

Start again

Hike through America and climb Mount Everest, Posner says, complete the great athletic goals he wanted to achieve.

“I have a million things that I want to do in my life, a lot of which are artistic, intellectual, spiritual, things I want to study, things I want to learn, things I want to do. But those were the two , they were explicitly athletic, “he says. “I remember thinking when I was 29 maybe I should start working on those now. I’m 33 now, I’ve done both and it took a couple of years. So we’ll see what I mean next put in the head is what. ”

Whatever it is, he says he learned to approach his goals by tackling anything. “If I put all my energy into something, I’ll make it. It seems to be working,” he says. “When you really want something and dedicate your life to it, it seems like you can have it.”

He went all out on his last album, Operation: Wake Up, a 10-song concept album that he released with minimal notice in December. The set is full of dark, depressing themes dealing with depression and suicide, and by the end of the album, Posner’s narrator character takes his own life.

It was a harrowing project for a character who presents himself as a spiritually optimistic, motivating personality; “Keep going!” has been his motto ever since he adopted it on his stroll through America. Posner says the album was recorded four or five years ago and essentially burned him a hole in his pocket.

“It almost became a burden,” he says. “I love writing, I thought it really worked out from an author’s point of view, the songs connected, the transitions were cool, and the songs were still good I think. So I had these mixed feelings of pride and shame because it was so dark. So I just thought, man, I have to get this out. “

Mike Posner.

Posner was in Pakistan winter training to climb Everest when the album was released. It came complete with an Instagram campaign that explored the album’s dark theme and got fans to question Posner’s mental health.

But shortly after “Operation: Wake Up” was released, Posner made an artistic 180 and released the optimistic “Momma Always Told Me”, and he recently followed suit with the similarly lively “Jealousy” with his sometimes criminal partner, singer-songwriter Black Bear.

The wild mood swings don’t bother him, he says, and that keeps him and his fans on their toes. Whether he makes music, wanders from one end of America to the other, or climbs the highest mountain in the world, he will follow his muse wherever it takes him, no matter what the consequences.

“I like building this ‘Mike Posner’ thing for a while and then setting it on fire,” he says. “I think that’s healthy in a way.”

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