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Archive for September, 2009

They Did it!!!

This just in… It’s official ! … Chris has reached the top of Mount Kilimanjaro! This is wonderful news and we are so very excited. Today is a very, good day!

Congratulations to Chris Waddell & the One-Revolution team on a successful summit of Mount Kilimanjaro!!!!

Photos, video and details to follow…


Here is the message we just received from Chris : “We summited today. Slept in the crater last night.” “Everyone’s asleep. Long day. At hotel tomorrow. Will catch you all up.”


Summit Update – 9/30/09

Here is what we received at 3am (mst) from Bob More:

“Lost all contact. Nate and I had to leave last night to get plane. Left Chris and film crew in crater. Pretty straightforward from there. I assume he summited this morning and is on his way down. He is unreal.”


Nate and I are now off the mountain. Communication is tough. We left Chris with Dave and about 8 porters in the crater over 18,000 feet. It is a pretty straight shot from there and we assume he got there today and is on his way down.

But what a trip. Great team. Dave’s rig and the planning were perfect. Film crew was way beyond the call of duty. And Chris is absolutely amazing. For anyone that has done that route, anyone we spoke with on the way down consistently said it was the hardest thing they ever did. Then they saw Chris. To quote one British guy…“Hardest man I have ever seen. Makes John Wayne look like a pansy.”

No doubt the most incredible single minded effort I will ever see in my life. And through it all, terrible suffering, discomfort, dirt and dust everywhere, very little sleep and unbelievable output of energy, Chris never lost his sense of humor or optimism. Like no one else I have ever seen.

On the 20 mile hike out today, Nate and I were even more impressed at the obstacles he overcame. Chris has many fans, not the least of which were the porters who loved working with him and the team.

There are a myriad stories here, but at the core, it is all Chris showing us anything is possible.

Bob More
Dr. Nate Bryan


Summit Update – 9/29/09

Nothing yet except for a text from Bob More at 2am:

“We are all simply trying to help Chris slog up a steep scree/sand straightaway to Gilman’s Point. Lowly sleeping in crater tonight and push for the summit in am. Spirits as good as can be expected.”

“Today is a beast. Likely summit tomorrow. Sleep in crater tonight. Then Nate and I have to do the 30-mile hike out in one day to get the plane. Turning phone off for batteries. I have already been on top, scouting stuff.”

It looks like the summit will happen tomorrow. I will keep you updated on everything we find out. Stay tuned….


Summit Update – 9/28/09


Writing from 18-thousand feet on what promises to be a pretty chilly evening. Left at 6am with a variety of expectations. Consensus had us staying at Hans-Meyer. That looked optimistic after our first adventure on the winch. The first quarter mile took about an hour and a half. Soon thereafter we moved to the boards and picked up the pace considerably. I decided to push on past Hans-Meyer at just past 12:30.

Some of the terrain that I rode on the boards absolutely amazed me. I had thoughts of sleeping in the crater. Then we started the push past Gilman’s Point. As I rode the boards, my front wheels became light – something I thought I would only experience on slick rock.

As I covered the last 50 yards in at least a half hour, I had the vague thought that this must be what it is like to drown within reach of shore.

The days end mocked me as I attempted to reach in two to four foot increments. Bob, Nate and I are snuggled into our tent 18-thousand feet. The line of sun long departed up and the temperature is dropping, the wind rising and we are optimistic for a summit push tomorrow.

- Chris

Photos © Mike Stoner


Summit Update – 9/27/09

The One Revolution crew sent these photos today.. They are preparing for the summit push.  It may be as many as 20 hours of climbing for Chris over the next two days.  If this is the timeline, the group may need to spend the night in a crater, in between Kibo Hut and the summit. Waddell did a satellite phone interview with CBS news, and that will be featured in a piece tonight on the CBS Evening News on the West Coast.

PHOTOS © Mike Stoner


Summit Update – 9/26/09


Day one is in the books. You might have gathered from my blog entries that I was more than a bit nervous. This is a tough mountain and I’m pretty sure that every day I will tell you that it was the toughest day. Our morning started at 6, though with the permits and getting the group together we didn’t start until about 10. Waiting has been the most difficult part and this morning was no different. I just wanted to start because I had no idea how long it would take me and how difficult it would be. If I have one daily goal it’s to make it to camp before the sun goes down.

We started on the Porter’s Road, and I became worried because I didn’t think that I was going fast enough. About three weeks ago the Easton Foundations approved a really generous grant for us to build two more vehicles. Without their support we would not even be able to attempt our Kilimanjaro climb. Dave Penney and his group from Crested Butte, Scott Gillman, Ben Preston and Zach Gustafson of Research Engineering Group, Dave Theis, and Rich Smith, worked around the clock to finish the vehicles and the winch before we departed on Sunday. I had only been on one rig for a brief climb on the winch up the hill behind Scott’s shop before today. With an untested rig, I think my nervousness was well placed—though I had complete confidence in Dave’s group and they were making minor changes to Bomba, our really successful rig.


A lack of satellite coverage for my GPS system had me convinced that I was going closer in speed to our June scouting mission than to the speeds that I’ve been going recently. I envisioned arriving in camp by headlamp as I had on the first day in June and worried that the whole effort might be for nothing, but then we turned a corner and saw the end of the Porter’s Road and the beginning of the trail. I asked Dave Penney, “Are we here?” We were. It had taken exactly 2 hours, about the average time for a hiker, and 42 minutes faster than I had done it last November, on my second trip, when I became convinced that I could make it the approximately 3000 vertical feet a day for camp. Making it so quickly to the end of the Porter’s Road boosted my spirits, but I knew that the last 1000 feet of vertical would take at least as long as the previous 2000 feet, and probably a lot longer. Plus, the technical terrain would force us to use the mostly untested winch.


We needed the winch as soon as we turned the corner. It worked great allowing me to climb a fixed rope by turning the winch with a chain attached to the pedals. I crawled up and over rocks that would have stopped me dead, but then the winch began to heat up. It’s a Harken sailing winch and probably not designed for prolonged cranking. It became more difficult to turn. Luckily the terrain turned less technical. For the majority of the rest of the day I climbed up and over the waterbars that were so challenging the last time and through the rocky terrain. When I faced severe difficulty the porters placed 2×8 boards on the obstacles, bridging the gaps. I can’t overstate the porters’ contribution. They started tentatively, but after a few tries they made my job so much easier. Their spatial creativity amazed all of us. We rolled into camp at about 4:30 this afternoon, well before sunset. It was warm and comfortable. One day down. Tomorrow might be our most technical day—yes, I told you each day would be the most difficult. I hear the winch clicking right now as Dave Penney prepares to make my job easier. - Chris

Photos © Mike Stoner


Summit Update – 9/25/09

Ouch! Long day. 10.5 hours. Technical from start to finish. Unrelenting.  A series of about 1000 3-4 second sprints at 12,000 feet and 3300 vertical.  I didn’t use the winch. We’re saving it for the upper mountain.  The Harken winch is a great mechanism.  We’re still figuring out the intricacies for our purposes. We’ll figure it out. On the other side, the rig ran great. I was constantly surprised at what I climbed. The new pivot is fantastic.

I knew this would be the most difficult day other than the summit day. It took longer than I hoped, but it’s behind me now.  With each step of this journey, I feel more optimistic – but cautiously optimistic.  The first half of tomorrow will be technical. The second half will be on the road. Hopefully, the dust subsides.  Sarah Walllis told us before we left that it was “exploding dust” on the mountain. She was right.

The coolest sight of the day: leaving the rain forest and getting our first majestic view of Kili and her glacier-crowned glory.  It’s a magical draw.

- Chris


Summit Update – 9/24/09

I slept hard until about 4:15. The roosters had started by then, but I drifted back to sleep. By 6 I was up when I heard the crescendo of cow bells seemingly building on itself. There was no snooze button for this alarm. It was okay. I was up. T-shirt weather befitting lush jungle.

Short of yesterday’s short spin in Kubwa, I don’t feel like I’ve done much training since I left Crested Butte and that was more testing than long days. Dave had said all along that he wanted me to taper my training. I’d protested. Tapering had never worked for me. I always felt worse. My body seems to feel better with hard days. Somehow I think we’ll both get our wish.

- Chris


Summit Update – 9/23/09

We’ve dubbed the new vehicle Kubwa, which means huge or really huge in Swahili depending on inflection. I’d hoped to call it son of a bomba, but no one else seemed to see the humor as much as I did, and “huge” really seems appropriate for this vehicle with it’s wheels straight out of a monster truck rally.

We’ve just left Mobility Care, which will manufacture our donated  wheelchairs. After the climb we’ll meet the first three wheelchair recipients. To me, this is as exciting as our climb of Kili, for which we’re now driving to the Marangu Hotel for an early morning start.

I don’t think that I’m a typical wheelchair user. It’s funny that my life didn’t take an obvious turn after my accident–whatever that means. I realize that I’m a participant in not taking an obvious path, but I’m also the product of some great opporunities. Many people aided me from doctors, nurses, family, friends, and total strangers. We just never know what twists and turns our lives will take. With our Mobilty Care relationship and with the climb and documentary film I hope that we can provide some twists and turns for people who’d long ago assumed an obvious
straight path.

As I lay in bed last night unable to sleep with anticipation, I wondered how I could find that quiet place that would allow me to rest, to relax, and to nod off. I wondered if it was a person, a memory, maybe just counting backwards from 1000 by 3’s. Nothing soothed the disquiet, until I thought, I need help. Ease finally came.  As my friend Nate, our doctor on the trip, said, “If you don’t ask for help, we don’t have a purpose.”


Summit Update – 9/21/09


Hi all,

We’re here. Everything arrived but the rigs and Dave Penney’s gear,  which should arrive tomorrow evening on the next flight from  Amsterdam. Not having the rigs will make things more challenging, but  that’s why we built in a couple of days before the climb.

It was really nice to get on the plane after the frenetic pace of getting ready, but the inactivity was difficult too. Movies, books and sleep were not quite enough to rest my flitful mind which is  continually working out mountain scenarios. I know that part of my  personal goal is to quiet my mind, but it’s more difficult when  there’s no physical action. Ah, the lessons begin before the mountain.

The team is tremendous as always. Director Amanda Stoddard, director of photography Patrick Reddish, cinematographer Mike Stoner, and multiple media manager Ryan Gass are excited prepared, and capturing footage along the way. For security reasons they weren’t able to catch  Bob More, in flip flops, giving me a piggyback down the stairs from plane to Tarmac. Bob, who was a fraternity brother and is the President of the One Rev board, and Nate Bryan, who ski raced with me at Middlebury and is our doctor, are new additions to the team. Along with Expedition Manager Dave Penney, it’s a great group that has weathered the day and a half of travel from US Mountain West to slightly sub-equatorial Tanzania.

The air was a soft, smooth 80 degrees as we disembarked into a deep darkness absent of street lights or almost any other lights. I’m writing in the Rover as we drive from the remote airport to the busy city of Arusha. Meeting our drivers, Peter and Kihigo, with hugs and handshakes felt like a homecoming after our previous two trips. The more people we get to know, the more connected we are to Africa and Tanzaia.

I hope for quality rest before the street corner preacher with the speakers, I’m sure he’ll still be there, starts his sermon at about 5am tomorrow morning. From the big, deep dark sky, to the friends, the Rovers and even that early morning preacher, we’re feeling comfortable and ready.

Thanks for all of your help.

Best, Chris


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