PHOENIX, Ariz. (KNXV) — Clayton Wolfe achieved his goal of climbing Mount Everest after training for about seven years.
The Realtor from Scottsdale, Arizona, was first ready to make the trek in 2020.
"Nine days before I left for that expedition, COVID, the pandemic, shut the world down and it was canceled," Wolfe said.
Wolfe tried the hike in 2021, but COVID wasn't done foiling his plans.
Fifty-three days into that second attempt, at 26,000 feet, one of his teammates got sick. For the safety of everyone, they couldn't finish the climb.
"I'm stubborn in nature, and I go for my goals with everything I got," he said. "I signed up again for 2022."
While he said he felt prepared for the latest attempt, the Everest expedition took a toll on his body.
"It's absolutely physically demanding," he said. "You put your body through something that you might never put it through again, absolutely, but the mental aspect is generally one of the toughest and it can be for many reasons."
The end proved to be the most mentally difficult part of his journey.
He had to wait in line for hours, braving the elements, to reach the summit. About 150 other climbers were also trying to finish their Everest climb that day.
It took him 21 days to reach the top of the mountain.
"It's surreal. It's hard to put into words. Definitely got tears in your eyes when you're up there," he said. "You're on top of the world. No one at that point in time is taller than you right now."
As if the climb itself wasn't enough of an accomplishment, he also raised about $14,000 for Arizona children's charities through the Scottsdale 2030 Club.
He sold 140 golden tokens prior to the trip that made it to the summit with him.
"Not only did all of these people help me raise money for a really good cause, but they got a little piece of the summit too," he said.
He said he hopes his journey inspires others to complete their goals, no matter what obstacles get in their way.
This story was originally reported by Amelia Fabiano on abc15.com.