Archive for the 'The Climb' Category
This is the start of the third day since we came off the mountain. I’m finally starting to feel semi-normal. The first two days I had trouble getting out of bed, I hadn’t really slept in two weeks, and getting out of the shower–I finally exited when the plastic deck chair used started to lose integrity. On the mountain I just pushed through everyday. The pain didn’t really register until I stopped. With that pain comes the significance of my effort. My nose is peeling. My lip is split and still painful especially to toothpaste. I have a persistent tickle cough from the exploding dust on the mountain. But, the muscle and joint pain is starting to subside. For the first two days I felt like I’d been hit by a truck. My wrists felt almost fused. It seemed like someone had hit me across the back of the shoulders with a baseball bat. I pushed at a quarter speed looking like the delicate brand new spinal cord injury that I still remember being. It felt like the residual of a marathon, tons of early season intervals, and being sick to the point that my face was puffy, my mind was foggy, and all I wanted to do was sleep.
My experience might have been extreme for the rest of the team, but they all worked so hard on the mountain, doing their jobs meant that thru climbed many sections of the mountain more than once and often at pressing speed, that I think they’re all feeling it a bit more than their showing, which is a testament to their collective resolve since we didn’t stop after we left the mountain.
Early the first morning we visited Mobility Care to meet the first three recipients of Mobility Revolution’s wheelchair donation. One individual was unable to make it, but the other two confirmed our efforts.
Zachariah received a three-wheeled handcycle constructed by Mobility Care. A couple years ago he had osteomyelitis in his hip which affected bone density in his hip and femer. Instead of being an isolated malady his whole body has been affected. Getting around exclusively for years gives him the look that his neck and wrists have been fused. He has to turn his whole torso to look at you. His hands almost look like those of a quadraplegic even though he didn’t tell us of any nerve damage. We hope that with the handcycle he will use more muscles and give his wrists and neck a bit of a break as he pedals around Arusha selling vouchers for cell phone minutes.
Nine year old Masufu had a heart breaking story. He has kidney failure and there are only two dialysis machines in all of Tanzania (as we’ve been told). He has lost one leg of the kidney failure already and his body looks painfully swollen. To pressure the family even more, his father died ten days before we met him. As he sat in the chair for the first time, I asked him what he wanted to do. He said that he wanted to go to school. Why? Because he wanted to become a doctor–specifically a pediatrician because they work with children.
Later in the day we did a press conference for Tajiri with seven members of the Tazanian press.
- Chris11 comments
It’s been a while since I’ve posted as we spent more time on the upper mountain than we’d anticipated. After a great day on the 28th, I had probably my most challenging day on the 29th. On the scree field below Gillman’s Point, I spent the whole day on the winch. Each turn of the cranks seem to take all of my strength. First I started counting pedal strokes to give myself a goal of anywhere between 20 and 100. Then I started to pick out individual rocks that were about 10-12 feet away. It was all I could to keep going. Climbing the 200+ foot rope took hours, but eventually we reached the boulder field below Gillman’s. It proved impassable. My team and the porters assisted me and I was soon back on my way, rolling down into the crater.
With all the times that I’ve likened the vehicle to a Mars Rover, the crater might well have been the most appropriate place. The landscape looked the surface of Mars, or a desert, or the bottom of a dried lake, with the finest silt on the mountain. We camped at the base of the ridge that led to Uhuru Peak. As the sun set, we could see the peak sign at the end of the ridge.
At 18,000 feet sleep was surprisingly easy. No one on the team suffered anything more than a headache. The tent was covered in frozen condensation in the morning. In our fatigue and with the effects of altitude we’d neglected to open a vent, but the sun warmed us quickly and we started up the run-off trail to the ridge. Seki, our lead African guide, projected four hours to the summit.
The glaciers, which had looked like skullcaps from the bottom, towered stories in the air. With glimpses and light changes I thought I saw the Parthenon at one time, and a Navajo Village another. Looking at the glaciers was like looking for figures in changing clouds.
On the day, I alternated between the boards and riding freely. The boards that the porters laid made traction possible, but they also made the going slower. I tried at every chance to ride myself, though fully aware of the strains of altitude. There was much to look at with the crater to my right and the glacier to my left. As I marveled at the glacier, Seki said that many people hire airplanes to marvel at the ice. It was nice to know that I’d earned the view under my own effort.
As we approached a ridge, where the film crew setup, I asked Seki if we’d be able to see the summit from there. He assured me that we would, though he didn’t prepare me for the surprise that it was so close. The trail dipped down slightly, I shifted out of first gear for the first time in three days, and pedaled easily the few hundred yards to the summit. After such a difficult journey, it seemed strange that the last little bit might well have been the easiest. We’d earned the view over years of preparation. It took two hours from camp to the summit.
I felt like I’d made a statement that we as people could do whatever we wanted, but more profoundly, I saw the benefits of giving someone an opportunity. Last June we met Tajiri, a former porter on Kilimanjaro, who lost his leg in a landslide on the mountain that also took a few lives. Though I wasn’t sure until this trip how Tajiri fit with our project—we’ve been about wheels—we bought him prosthesis. When we summited on the 30th, Tajiri summited for the second time in two days. Seki told us that he will become famous in Tanzania for being the country’s first amputee to reach Uhuru Peak. In addition to climbing the mountain, Tajiri resumed a rhythm with the porters, his friends and former co-workers. He teased them as he walked. “I bet you never expected to see me back here. I’m back.” Tajiri seemed far more confident than I’d seen him before. Seki speculated that he’d been 80% recovered prior to the climb. He said that the climb returned him to 100%. I suspect that it might be more than that. I suspect that Tajiri might get a chance to do far more than he would have in his previous life. I might not have clearly seen the connection between Tajiri and our project prior to our climb, but now I see that he has the ability to change lives. He already has.
Photos © Mike Stoner14 comments
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.”118 comments
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.
Dr. Nate Bryan
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….39 comments
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.
Photos © Mike Stoner33 comments
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 Stoner11 comments
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 Stoner2 comments
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.
- Chris21 comments
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.
- Chris11 comments