02/13/2006, Colorado Springs

Once again another adventure is about to continue. Departure is set for me on Friday; heading out to Nairobi takes a couple of days. I'll be in London for a short bit before making the final leg into Nairobi on the 18th.

A great team we have assembled for our ascent of Kili. Steve Lombardi hailing from Des Moines Iowa, Dan Cannon of Londonderry New Hampshire, and finally Scott Zannini of Atlanta Georgia.

Planning for this adventure started back in August after I ran into Steve as he was heading off to climb and train in Zermatt Switzerland. Riding the train up to Zermatt we opened the dialouge for climbing larger mountains.

No doubt a common misconception for folks that are not familiar with travel up Kilimanjaro, it can be a tough climb, the opposite being easy, which its not. Altitude and issues of health can be problematic as one slowly winds up the mountain in a fashion reminiscent of days of travel long gone. A train of porters, cooks, required guides and much more complete the ensemble. We will be taking in some extra time on the mountain at the Shira Plateau-a beautiful region that pops out at around 12,000 feet and leaving the forest of the giant Heather Trees, sometimes in bloom. Often time this region can be cloaked in low clouds, compounded with the strange yet beautiful Lobelia plants and trees, makes it a truly remarkable experience.

Way more to come on that subject, and the real events and stories as it happens. Nairobi in and of itself, well that is one that has its pluses and many minuses, mainly massive crowds and pollution so it will be good to get out, but no doubt an adventure is in store.

Avalanche education and preparation
02/03/2006, Colorado Springs

I'm back home in Colorado, rested and ramping up for a trip to Africa in a few short weeks. My team on 2 separate trips are busily doing final preparations and training to climb in both Tanzania on Mount Kilimanjaro and Mount Kenya, some of the most incredible culturally rewarding trips we do.

This weekend and last we started our 2006 AIARE level 1 avalanche course. Last weekend Tom Murphy the Executive director of AIARE and Chad Peele started it off here at Colorado College to a sold out course and fantastic enthusiasm. Its always an exciting thing for me to see such motivation and effort put forth by folks to learn more about not only snow science and the many hazards that loom in the backcountry, but young folks taking time out to learn about proper risk management. This weekend were back at it here in Colorado Springs and I'll be teaching it alongside Chad again. Colorado leads the world in recorded avalanches each year, as well as fatalities, so here at PPAS and SEI were working hard to get the word out on education through a whole host of outreach targeted at reducing these numbers.

This photo was taken in Kenya last year when I visited an orphanage for HIV positive children in Nanyuki Kenya, home to the Tumani Children's Hospital. We started working with them over a year ago in bringing them not only money, but also much needed supplies. Were continuing our efforts this year and have raised more money, but managed to gain supplies for them to continue the wonderful work they do. Contact us here at SEI for more information and find out how you can help this wonderful effort.

Back in Colorado
02/03/2006, Colorado Springs

It always takes one a few days of transition to regain a foothold on day-to-day life. In this case its getting use to sleep patterns and adjusting them. I'm back home after a rest day in Punta Arenas; in all seriousness I could have used a couple more days. It feels great to be back home, now I ramp up for a trip to Kenya and Tanzania.

This will be the final report from Vinson and serve to close this expedition. When we aborted the first attempt on the summit the weather had proven the upper hand and reminded us in no uncertain terms just who was boss. It did though serve as a great shakedown to what would become our real summit bid the following day. We came back to high camp in really reduced visibility, I brewed up some hot drinks made a big lunch and graduated into the sleeping bags and caught up on journaling and reading. For me the time I love is just that, solace and peace, just the noise of Antarctica, no distractions, nothing but simplicity of nature.

We woke up to great weather the following AM. I again made breakfast and hot drinks. Filled the water bottles with hot water, made a thermos of sweet tea, put on the boots, and all the other clothing, which takes forever, then stepped outside. No wind, sunny and a day made for walking.. We left camp ahead of schedule at around 09:30, and started up the glacier again, this time with great visibility. The climb is straight forward in good weather, about a 2.5 mile long glacial approach over a fairly mild gain in elevation, no major crevasses to speak of, and no real objective danger, thus it's nice to just enjoy the scenery. We do a dogleg of sorts near the mountain, which presents itself not long up the glacier, and you have an unobstructed view of the summit ridge. Once closer it's again a moderate gain of elevation to a col or pass near the final summit ridge. Before then some folks actually un-rope, I don't because of hidden crevasses near this ridge. Once on the final ridge it's a beautiful climb over rock and snow to gain the main summit. We made the summit around I believe it to be 4:00 PM. Proud of both Don and Carolyn, and many obligatory photos later, we headed down. We got back to camp around 10:00 PM, so in all we made good time. The descent was just the same as the ascent in terms of weather, so we just enjoyed the sun and views and took our time. Once back at camp we enjoyed warm drinks and a great meal, then to bed we all went. We slept and packed up the following day and headed down all the way to Vinson base, that took us somewhere in the neighborhood of about 8 hours in all, and what a great sense of elation that was. We thought we were going to make a flight that day, and then possibly the Illushin later on, but that did not happen. We were at Vinson for about 4 days, and Patriot hills a couple of days before heading north.

In closing, a big effort complete, and no major injuries to speak of. It was some interesting weather this season no doubt. For me not an issue of temps but a noticeable rise in precipitation, I've never seen it snow like it did this season. That may seems strange but you have to remember that Antarctica is a dessert really, and it just does not snow. I did manage with other guides to get in some great skiing that was truly memorable, and for me that was certainly a highlight.

Thanks for reading and until next time, this is Jamie signing off.

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