Friday, September 28, 2007

Last Dispatch from Kili

This was the last dispatch I posted from the most recent Kili Expedition. Its a reflection from each member of the team.
Final Thoughts
20 Sep, 07 - 22:25
The final dispatch will consist of thoughts and comments from each individual member of this expedition...
"I had made the summit of Kilimanjaro and had fallen slightly behind my team when I realized that I was alone in Africa, pleasantly stuck between limbo and nirvana - happily turning a trip into an was a good day to take a walk." Scott Sewell
"When I reached the crest of Kili and looked back at people of all races trying to reach the same goal - some so weak and sick they could hardly walk, being helped by their guides or loved ones. It all made me think the human spirit is alive and we all can work together in whatever we wish." Craig Prine
"Heroes are simple, authentic people that help you find good things within yourself. Mt Kilimanjaro threw her weather, physical terrain and high altitude at Emeka. Through the strength of the human spirit and his indomitable will, Emeka made it. Thanks for letting me be a witness to such a a great life lesson." Bill Barkeley
"Rule #1 of High Altitude Hiking: Don't rush it. Rule #1 of Adventure Film Making: Sometimes you gotta rush it. Team Extreme. Fear is for #@^&*$@" Thayer Walker
"Pole', Pole' means freeze your ass off in Swahili. I say Haraka, Haraka!" Michael Brown
"Vscchno se zda' jashejsi' tani ha vrcholu hor." Magdalena Mikova (Editors note...I don't know what the hell that says)
"Ryan....Ryan.....Ryan Ross! Someone please shoot Bill on the summit!" Josh Levine to Ryan in a state of utter exhaustion in hoping someone could get Josh's critical footage footage for his film.
"I think a great leader said this: 'Part of an adventure is turning a corner...never having seen or done that before...every minute, every day, being there. That is the wonderful part of the journey' Jeff Evans, prior to departure on this expedition." Emeka Ngwube
"To be humbled is to be whole. That was a hell of a lot harder than I thought it was going to be. A fantastic journey!"
Ryan gets a second one because he is a fellow southern boy.
"To be from the south is a gift. To know there's a world outside of it is a luxury" Ryan Ross
"I came to climb Kilimanjaro and although I was not successful in reaching the top, I leave with a great respect on its size and how beautiful this mountain is. I leave knowing I have personally seen plants and vegetation that exist no where else on this earth. And I leave with the greatest respect for the 43 porters/guides that provided great meals , dry tents and a continuous supply of smiles. These guys truly have servant hearts and worked hard to perform their job beyond our expectations. These memories I will have forever." Jim Baar
This trip has been a wonderful experience and I have been honored to lead a wonderful group of individuals on an experience that brought us together as a team. Thanks again for all of the support and thoughts.
Craig Prine, Scott Sewell, Emeka Ngwube, Magdalena Mikova, Michael Brown, Ryan Ross, Thayer Walker, Josh Levine, Jim Baar, Bill Barkeley, Jeff Evans

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Kili Dispatches

Listed here is the dispatch I posted regarding our summit night from my most recent Kilimanjaro Expedition...

To The Top and Back Down Safely
19 Sep, 07 - 22:03

What a night! We were treated to a crystal clear night and relatively steady 15*F temps. We felt blessed that the first clear weather night in 7 days happened to coincidence with our summit attempt.

We had two different start times depending on expected pace. Bill, Jim, Josh and Jeff set out at 1:30am. Magdalena, Craig, Scott, Michael, Ryan, Emeka and Thayer took off at 2am. In a perfect world we would all meet on the summit at the same moment and share a group hug. Well... summit night on Kili is not a perfect world.

Bill had a few curve balls thrown at him with regards to the electronic hearing and night vision equipment. So we spent a bit of time problem solving alternative methods of communication. In the end, the equipment worked as expected and was a huge part of Bill's summit success.

Jim decided at 16,800ft that he was completely exhausted and wished to head down. After some deliberating it was clear that he was satisfied with his effort and had a smile on his face as he headed down with Nickson. Jim should be commended for putting in a great effort to reach his high point and overcoming his fear of heights on Breakfast Wall. This was a big deal and I am very proud of his effort.

Emeka had been having some stomach issues the past several days and in spite of medical intervention was unable to hold much food and fluid down. As a result he was quite fatigued which significantly slowed his pace. In what was a Herculean effort, Emeka knuckled down for hours and finally reached the summit around 11am. His tenacity has inspired all of us. He received a standing ovation as he entered the meal tent last night.

Thayer also showed his strength and resilience. He was clearly pulled down by the affects of altitude just prior to sunrise but rallied hard and not only summitted with the 2nd wave of us, he actually found new strength and returned to the summit an hour later for a 2nd time to accompany Emeka and document his success. A fantastic effort and wonderful personality to have around.

Josh was amazing. This guy flew from Manhattan a week ago never having done anything similar to climbing a mountain. He fought through extreme fatigue for hours and stood on top with us overwhelmed with emotion. A very proud effort.

Magdalena, Craig and Scott were, quite possibly the fastest crew on the mountain last night. They blew the doors off of every other team to summit around 7am. Magdalena, who we have all designated a saint for tolerating us for a week, lead the charge and the Wyoming boys were close behind. My only regret with their speedy ascent is that we all didn't get to summit together...they were just too fast. Amazing job.

Ryan was a true stud and as expected with him, was throwing out his wonderful humor even in spite of significant exhaustion. He summited with us at 7:30am. He is one of the true characters in life. A joy to have around.

And of course Michael was typical mountain Michael, sprinting up and down the hill to help and assist the film students. He is consistently a powerhouse in the mountains and one of my best friends. An honor for me to share another big summit with him.

Back to Bill... This guy is made of steel. As noted before, we did run into some technical challenges with his equipment, but through it all he kept his head on straight with a solid look of determination. Guiding Erik Weihenmayer for 14 years has obviously been very inspiring...but I feel that watching Bill tackle this project, create momentum behind his effort and then physically and emotionally summit this mountain has given me a new sense of inspiration. He has blown me away with the pureness in his heart and determination in his soul. He is a true man of conviction and I am honored that he gave me the opportunity to guide him on this climb. We summited arm and arm at 7:30am.

Thanks so much for the support and kindness,

Jeff and company

To read all of the dispatches from this trip, go to MV Dispatches

Monday, September 10, 2007

Back to Africa

So I was home long enough to wash some clothes, purchase a new pack of baby wipes (a critical part of the 'mountain bath'), and replace all of the weight I lost while in Russia (plus a few extra).
Now its time to head back to Africa to guide my 6th expedition up Mt Kilimanjaro.

"Don't you get tired of the same mountain over and over?" Surprisingly enough I don't with this trip. I have now done 3 different routes up the mountain which creates a bit of variety...but also I do love Africa. The culture, the people, the energy, the hard working porters. All of this continues to be intriguing to me.

Also we have a new collaboration for this trip. We are working with Serac Adventure Films in creating the first ever Adventure Film School. This will be an exciting addition to our cast of adventurers. Also we have a writer from Outside Magazine that will be reporting on the Film School for an upcoming article in the mag.

Another component to this trip is the participation of a gentleman named Bill Barkley. Bill was born with Ushers Syndrome, so he has very limited vision as well as greatly diminished hearing. He is also a very driven man with loads of determination. Our lines of communication will be aided by a microphone that I will be speaking into and will be sent back to Bills hearing devices using Bluetooth technology. Very cool. Bill has created quite a buzz concerning this challenge and it appears the entire state of Michigan is pulling for him.

Sign up for our daily dispatch alerts from our dispatch page for this Kili trip.