This brain tumour survivor plans to climb Mount Everest — and he's using the frigid temperature during the polar vortex to practice

Courtesy of Alexander PancoeAlexander Pancoe in Chicago prepping for Mount Everest.
  • After surviving a brain tumour in college, Alexander Pancoe plans to climb Mount Everest – his sixth summit.
  • He went outside in Chicago during the polar vortex when the temperature was minus 50 degrees to help him prepare.
  • Pancoe is dedicating his climb to the cancer patients at Lurie Children’s Hospital, while also attempting to raise $US1 million for the hospital.

Alexander Pancoe has overcome many obstacles in his life, but he’s about to face his largest hurdle to date, literally.

After surviving a brain tumour in 2005, the 32-year-old financial advisor from Chicago plans to climb Mount Everest in April. This week’s polar vortex is helping him prepare.

When temperatures dipped to minus 50 degrees in Chicago, Pancoe didn’t bundle up inside like his neighbours. Instead, he ventured out to test drive his gear and see how he could handle the frigid cold since the polar vortex was an almost perfect mirror to the conditions he’ll experience at the world’s highest peak.

“You can feel frostbite in the matter of seconds,” he told INSIDER. “[But] it was colder out here than it will be on Mount Everest.”

Alexander Pancoe polar vortexCourtesy of Alexander PancoePancoe in Chicago.

Read more:

The frigid ‘polar vortex’ cold snap engulfing the US is so bad it can give people frostbite in 5 minutes

But the cold was worth it for Pancoe, as he had the opportunity to focus on the practicalities of climbing the 29,029-foot mountain. He was able to test his new parka, for example, to make sure there were no holes and to see if it actually kept him warm.

Since the oxygen levels will be much lower on Mount Everest, Pancoe explained that doing even the simplest things will be difficult. But he was able to practice these simple tasks in Chicago’s freezing temperatures.

“I wanted to make sure I had enough dexterity to manage my gloves and ropes,” he said. “It gets tiring out there.”

Alexander Pancoe polar vortexCourtesy of Alexander PancoeChicago during the polar vortex.

Although this will be Pancoe’s sixth summit, he took the polar vortex as a unique opportunity to practice and to break from the monotony of this five-hour per day workouts.

He’s working towards completing the Explorer’s Grand Slam, which is skiing to the North and South poles and climbing all seven summits. Only a handful of people have been able to do all nine excursions, but Pancoe is more than halfway there.

Pancoe said among his motivations are children battling brain cancer. In fact, as he raises awareness about his story, he is working to raise $US1 million for Lurie Children’s Hospital – the same hospital that treated his brain tumour when he was a sophomore in college.

“I dedicate every single climb to the children at Lurie,” he said.

Now, as he’s in the last few months before climbing one of the tallest peaks in the world, Pancoe said he isn’t scared, especially after everything he has overcome.

“I’ve grown so much out of scaling these mountains because failing isn’t something I’m scared of anymore,” he said. “I learned I’m capable of a lot more than I ever thought I could do.”

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