McGeorge alumnus summits highest peaks on all seven continents

McGeorge alumnus summits highest peaks on all seven continents

Driven by a desire to honor the father he lost to a debilitating disease at just 59, University of the Pacific McGeorge School of Law alumnus Anthony McClaren ’03 recently became part of the very exclusive Seven Summits Club.

McClaren, proudly flying a McGeorge pennant, on Dec. 3 summited Vinson Massif in Antarctica, the highest point on the continent at more than 16,000 feet. On excursions over the past two years, McClaren has summited the highest points on all seven continents, making him one of roughly 750 people worldwide to have completed the Seven Summits.

McClaren completed the last of the climbs almost three years to the day that his father, U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Jerry McClaren, died from complications related to Parkinson’s disease.

“I elected to climb the Seven Summits — with limited resources, independently and in an abbreviated timeframe — to challenge myself in the most difficult manner I could envision to honor the memory of my father and further to draw awareness to Parkinson’s disease and other neurodegenerative diseases,” McClaren said. “A healthy mind affords unlimited potential. A diseased mind forces an uncontrolled deprivation of that potential. For those reasons, I raised support for Parkinson’s disease.”

In 2017, McClaren founded Climb Above Parkinson’s, a nonprofit that brings awareness to the disease and its treatment, and serves as a source of inspiration and education for those suffering from neurodegenerative diseases and their caretakers.

His love of mountains began when he was 8 and his family was stationed at Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado Springs, Colorado, where McClaren “began climbing fences, buildings and trees” for the challenge. But what he learned at McGeorge helped him become a lawyer and to achieve the ultimate climbing goal.

“McGeorge transformed my thought processes, mental focus, patience and resourcefulness to make me a member of the California Bar and prepare me for a career as an attorney,” McClaren said. “The level of commitment, preparation and strict standards for success demanded by McGeorge helped me realize untapped potential. Similar to the demands of McGeorge and a legal education, mountains demand significant commitment, resourcefulness and patience, and also provide success through hard work.  These parallels have never been lost on me. … Being admitted to, attending and graduating from McGeorge gave me the tools to succeed in the mountains and on the Seven Summits.”

McClaren met William Miller, a fellow McGeorge student, who had been a U.S. Marine mountain warfare specialist and taught McClaren climbing disciplines and techniques he later tested in the Sierra Nevada.

McClaren had read about the Seven Summits when Dick Bass and Frank Wells first completed it in the mid-1980s, but didn’t take it on as a personal goal until after his father’s death. Wanting to achieve the goal as independently and quickly as possible, McClaren guided or solo climbed each of the of the summits except for Vinson Massif in Antarctica, which cannot be done without guide services, and completed the Seven Summits in just two years.

The seven peaks include Denali in North America, Aconcagua in South America, Kilimanjaro in Africa, Elbrus in Europe, Vinson Massif in Antarctica, Kosciuszko in Australia and Everest in Asia. Another list swaps out Kosciuszko for Carstensz Pyramid in the Papua Province, Indonesia.

In an Instagram post, McClaren wrote about completing the Seven Summits and a “igloo that I built from scratch … and slept in it, as well.” He is seen in two photos holding an orange and black McGeorge pennant.

He also wrote about pursuing education.

“Educational pursuits represented the first mountains I pursued with independence,” McClaren wrote in the post. “A formal education seemed the only path to break free and expand and grow. Education provides opportunities, and an earned educational degree can never be stripped of you. It is an undeniable achievement, for the entirety of your life.”

McClaren also wrote of challenges.

“In truth, I barely made it in, and barely made it out, of law school,” he wrote. “Then again, life is about timing, and everyone is on a unique path. … Essentially, in one way or another, I strive to be among the most accomplished in every circumstance. … Thank you McGeorge for giving me the opportunities to succeed.”

McClaren recently opened a partnership in Los Angeles, Perleberg McClaren LLP, focusing on civil litigation, employment litigation, entertainment law and trademark law.