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Mike Posner decompressing but proud after Everest climb

By Gary Graff
ggraff@medianewsgroup.com, @GraffonMusic on Twitte

Posted: Wednesday, June 9, 2021

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Just over a week after reaching the summit of Mount Everest, Mike Posner is back decompressing amidst the lower peaks in Colorado's Vail Valley, where he spent more than a year training for the climb.

"Man, I've never been so tired in my life," the Grammy Award-nominated Posner -- who was raised in Southfield and graduated from Birmingham Groves High School -- said via Zoom. "I'm so sleep-deprived, so dehydrated. It's been a process of recovery, just taking it easy. I went for an easy hike yesterday but haven't done much. I'm just trying to get back to normal."

Posner, 33 -- known for hits such as "Cooler Than Me" and "I Took a Pill in Ibiza," and for co-writing songs for Justin Bieber, Maroon 5, Nick Jonas and Big Sean -- said the lingering physical effect from his two months spent scaling Everest is some residual "frost nip on my toes." But the emotional and psychological impact has been profound.

"It's probably the hardest thing I've done in my life," acknowledged Posner, who summited Everest with his team of four on June 1. "One of the things I knew but didn't appreciate was how much you wait. Ninety-eight percent of the time you're waiting for your body to adjust to a new altitude or for the weather to be permissible for you to go on. It's not a comfortable place to be, just because of the altitude. You don't ever really feel good, physically.

"And that's a lot of time to think about who you are, why you're doing what you’re doing. Those kind of big questions come up."

Posner said he's "still processing" those thoughts and perspectives he gained from the expedition, which has so far also raised more than $230,00 for the Detroit Justice Center. He plans to spend most of the summer, including some time back in the Detroit area, laying low "to just decompress the whole thing" and consider the experience.

"On a macro level, you just get very touched with what matters -- family, friends, love, all those clichés," he explained. "But when you're without them and really, in some ways, face your own mortality, that puts things, what matters, in perspective real quick."

The Everest climb was an outgrowth of Posner's walk across America during the spring and summer of 2019. He spent much of the past 20 months training with Everest veteran Jon Kedrowski, who told "CBS This Morning" he took Posner up 70 other mountains during that time. "Mikes was ready," Kedrowski said. "He actually told me, 'I want to make sure I deserve to be there.' I said, 'I can get you there if we work on other things first, step by step. If you 'pass' everything I have for you, we can go."

Posner called the climb "an emotional roller coaster," and he admitted to wanting to quit "like 1,000 times, both in my training and on the actual mountain." The scariest moment on Everest, he added, was during the descent; His group was the first to summit that day and had to alternate climbing down with others who were on their way up.

"I just realized how tired I was, up there 28,000, 29,000 feet," he recalled. "There was a moment just where my toes were very cold. I was off the rope, letting people pass, thinking, 'Can you guys just hurry the frick up...'"

As for the moment of reaching the top with Kedrowski and two Sherpas, "it was a wave of emotion, tears and everything," Posner said. "I'd been through a lot of ups and downs in the training and really put everything into this as my first priority in my life. So when we made the summit, that moment, everything I put in came back out."

Posner's next step is letting the experience seep into his creative life. "I definitely feel like there's a lot inside me for sure -- a lot of music, writing prose, fiction, whatever," said Posner, who released a new single, "Jealousy," with his Mansionz partner blackbear and co-written with Bieber. "That was one of the things I was thinking about on the mountain, that I really want to make it back down. I have a lot more to give. I want to make as much beautiful art as possible while I'm still alive and leave that behind for people to enjoy."

Posner said he has a few ideas he came up with during the trek to Everest's base camp, "but once I got on the mountain I didn't have too many ideas. You're so high up there things aren't firing on all cylinders -- it's really hard to explain to people who haven't done it. I was just trying to make it, man. That took everything I had."

Posner will also be continuing to raise funds for the DJC, in memory of and tribute to his late father, an attorney and champion of the under-served and underprivileged communities. "I know he would be so proud of the work they're doing, so it's a cause I care about personally," said Posner, adding that many of his black friends growing up had police encounter "horror stories" as teenagers. "As much as I like talking about (Everest), I really want to raise some more money for them. It's a cause I care about personally."

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