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Saturday, May 24, 2014

On top gear

I might have left the task to organise all the gear for Mount Elbrus rather too late. One reason is that because I bought all the gear I needed to climb Kilimanjaro, I initially thought I was only looking at a few additional items – maybe boots and gloves.

I got a rude awakening when I visited a renowned outdoor shot to test this thinking. My main objective was to go and fit boots and get a down jacket specifically for alpine extreme sub-zero temperatures. Initially I was going to rent boots but after reading about climbers that had issues with boots, especially those that are rented, I reluctantly concluded I would have to part with a few thousand rands to buy my own pair. I have learned that in climbing, what you put on your feet could make a difference between a successful summit or not. I settled on the Boreal G1 Lite not only from a comfort and fit point of view, but also from a safety point of view. They are light double boots (have a removal inner) and have advanced synthetic material (not plastic) that completely keeps the feet protected from the cold.


I would also be able to use the same pair to climb Aconcagua and perhaps even Denali – If I heed the call. That I am afraid, can never be ruled out. They are rather extra large in size and so a big chunk of my luggage space is going to be taken by this pair! 

The next task was to resolve the down jacket item - the one I had in mind (of course the cheaper one) was not going to be adequate, and so I added the First Ascent Malumute Jacket to the cart.
I watched as the cart grew bigger - the glove inners, summit pants and socks that I used at Kili were not going to cut it and although I have a 75l backpack, I doubted it was of the quality that would protect my back after hours of climbing. And so the backpack, at roughly R2000 to R3000, is another “must get”. Fortunately, I will not need to get any inner layer items as well as fleeces, soft shell jackets, hats and balaclavas. At this point I feel I have managed to get on top of the gear task – the rest of the items such as crampons, ice axe, harnesses, carbineers and ropes I have elected to rent.

It is exactly a month before the start of the climb – and I must still get a visa. I have completed all the paper work and have compiled all required documentation.
Flight tickets are booked but accommodation in St Peterburg and Moscow is yet to be finalised. The political situation in Russia is still a concern, but the expedition company will keep us posted if we need to reconsider the dates. I would prefer to stick to the summit week we have booked because at around -25° as worst case scenario at the top of the mountain, it is about the warmest in the calendar. 

Sunday, May 4, 2014

And so we took off....

It has been a long while since I overcame the injury that brought my running to a scratching halt. A lot has happened – life took over, new challenges presented themselves and so I have plenty of experiences to share.

Recently, it was put to me (in line with the style of questioning on the Oscar Pistorius trial) that what if I resumed my blogging….. and along with that challenge, a carrot was dangled. And so long story short, here we are.

I am working towards two or three goals at the moment – but will find space to relate the experiences of the past – randomly as they come up and as I use them to complete the full picture.

In 2012 I completed one of the 7 summits – Mount Kilimanjaro - and would like to resume blogging by relating details of the second summit that we are planning – Mount Elbrus in Russia. After returning from Kilimanjaro, and many months afterwards, I told everyone I was not going to climb again. I swore I would do Comrades twice a year before attempting another summit of that kind. The low temperatures, knee pain and the altitude sickness tested me completely towards the end of the climb. I will relate this experience in full in another post.  But I’ve had to eat my words. Mount Elbrus is colder and here I am working on an advanced plan for the trip in June 2014. I get butterflies in my stomach just thinking about this.

The friends we keep. If you want to quit drinking, maybe you best avoid your friends that enthusiastically indulge. We are about 7 weeks from the Mt Elbrus trip and I am already seeing Aconcagua emails going around this way and that way.

Something else gives me even bigger butterflies in my stomach. I have accepted another challenge to do Absa Cape Epic in 2015, less than a year from now.

If this does not make sense to you – be comforted by that the fact that I am also just as baffled. In the meantime, I take my mind off by preparing for the Comrades Marathon in a month’s time.

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