The Ancient Historian

Ancient history, mountaineering, cycling and other outside adventures

Archive for the category “Alan Arnette”

Mountains, memories and motivations

It’s Summertime, and the living is eas(ier). Time to update many things. I had a big climb last month in Alaska. More on that very soon. Meanwhile my good friend Alan Arnette left yesterday for Pakistan; he should be just about in Islamabad as I write this note, getting ready to head up to the Karakoram range, and K2. This is a big deal, and I hope you all will follow him on his blog , on his Facebook page, and you can track him on the mountain via SPOT. K2 is the second highest mountain the the world, but significantly harder than Everest. It is very steep from the beginning and never lets up. He’ll be climbing the Abruzzi Ridge (by the way named after the guy who named Mt Bona where I was in Alaska) Route, the standard, and here is *some* idea, the Abruzzi is Route “F”:

Exhaustion is a major risk, and it has objective dangers out the wazoo, bad weather, and boulders flying at you at terminal velocity. It’s the mountaineers mountain, a huge challenge and as I said dangerous. 25% fatality rate of those who summit. So it is usually left to full-time professionals to climb. All of that is by way of admiration for what Alan has set out to do. He is well experienced, and as well trained as you can be. He’s a pro, and he is determined. Why climb? Well, the challenge is really there if you love big mountains. But Alan has another motivation0-the continued importance of his fund raising efforts for Alzheimer’s research. That’s a personal motivation for him, as you can read. But this is a nasty disease that will effect all of us one way of another. So please join me in supporting Alan. Follow his progress, think good thoughts, and above all, please make a donation. I’m asking all my friends to chip in $5 here. These are great charities doing fantastic work for the cause. And as Alan always says, Climb on!Alan Arnette


Horrible news coming from Manaslu in Nepal

The AP reported earlier today a disastrous avalanche high on Manaslu, apparently from a serac fall above camp 3 Alan Arnette reports via Epic tv. I had been following IMG’s blog on the climb, many teams were on Manaslu because of the closure of Cho Oyu Alan Arnette reports. The IMG team is all safe, which I was relieved to hear. Nevertheless many have lost their lives, and my thoughts and prayers go out to all family, friends and colleagues of these brave climbers.

Alan Arnette summits Carstenz

Good news from Alan. His latest blog entry is a phone in from the summit of Cartsenz Pyramid, first ascended by Heinrich Harrer in 1962; next stop (after 33 repel sections on Carstenz) is Mt Kosciusko to bag the final (8th) of the 7 summits, just to satisfy the dispute between Bass and Messner. Way to go Alan! Waiting for that tyrolean traverse footage!

Kilimanjaro-Part 1

We arrived at the New Keys Hotel around 10 and checked in; a large group of British students was celebrating their own climb in the hotel pool. Alan and I went over to investigate- and almost got ourselves wet…..very wet. But it was dinner time.. and we quickly, and wisely, departed the pool scene. The New Keys staff was great and treated us well. The team got to know each other, but most of us departed for our rooms early. The next day we visited the Kilimanjaro Porters Assistance Project, a group run by an American woman who look after the safety and welfare of the Kili porters.

This is a group that IMG supports well, and it was well worth the trip to show support. The rest of the day was spent walking around Moshi, getting an amazingly good coffee shake at a local coffee shop (good tip Eben), and relaxing at the hotel.Beautiful weaver birds were chirping by our window.

We did our final gear check with our guide to make sure we had the right equipment for the climb and the anticipated cold weather up high, another good meal was followed by early bedtime. After a quick breakfast, we packed up, got our duffle and packs down to the courtyard ready to pack up. Our van arrived, and we drove out to the Machame gate, about an hour’s drive from the hotel.

As we neared the gate, we began to gain altitude fairly fast, and I was glad we did not have to hike up that road to the gate. We drove through the gate-we appeared to be the first ones there that day. There our climb began. It was rainy, foggy, and a little chilly as we started our climb up to the highest point in Africa.

The trail was well groomed and sloped gently upward. We were walking through a thick tropical rainforest the entire day. Quite soon after we began, we started to see our porters for the first time, carrying our duffles and the entire camp up the trail…..incredibly fast. It was impressive to see.

The road to Kilimanjaro

“You should consider coming along,” ended my phone conversation with Alan Arnette a little over a year ago. We had been speaking about his campaign “memories are everything” to raise research funds and awareness for Alzheimer’s disease, a campaign that I had been supporting, and his climb of Kilimanjaro. Alan knew of my interest in tackling bigger mountains. I did not give it much thought at first, Kili was not a mountain that I had been thinking about, but I began to realize that this was a real great opportunity to climb a big mountain, to hang out with Alan and all the while show support for his campaign. I could not resist, and I ended up calling IMG in Ashford Washington and actually speaking with Phil Ershler about the Kili trip. I was pretty much hooked. The safari afterward? I thought at first, Nah, I want to go climb a mountain. That turned out to be silly. All of this was on my mind when the KLM flight landed, on time, at Kilimanjaro (JRO). It was the beginning of a great adventure. I had met Alan in the Amsterdam airport. After landing, I stepped off of the stairs onto the tarmack, and walked, quickly, into passport control to try to get a good spot in line. It’s a bit of a scrum to get the visa, but they were, in fact, pretty efficient. Passport, cash, fingerprints, off you go to get your duffles. By 9:30, I was walking off with Alan to meet our IMG guide Eben Reckford and the rest of the team. It was a beautiful evening, and we were all excited to be driving into the hotel in Moshi. The view of the mountain on a clear day from the town of Moshi is spectacular:


Back from Kili

I’m back home now, safe and sound, after an amazing two weeks in Tanzania. A full report to follow shortly. Suffice it to say for now it was just a great trip, we all summitted, our IMG guide was superb, we ate well, saw a lot and experienced a great mountain. It was a privilege to climb with Alan Arnette, especially, but the whole of our group was great company all along the way. The safari in the Serengeti and Ngorongoro Crater was really neat, and to think I was not going to do it at first. It turned out to be perfect after a long hard week on the mountain.


Leaving for Kilimajaro in a week

I am still without power as I write this, the storm that blew through last weekend proved too much for the power company alas. Thank goodness, no damage in my town. Meanwhile, my thoughts turn almost full time to flying to Tanzania, to meeting Alan Arnette and joining him up Kilimanjaro. He posted a nice blog today on his site about the climb, so no need to repeat what he said there. Tanzania, for me, is the most ancient of places, the place, or one of them , where early man arose. Olduvai Gorge, the “cradle of man” is nearby, to the west of this ancient Volcano, and further West, the Serengeti plain, Lake Victoria, and the Lake district-the sources of the Nile. The real place imagined (in some cases more than imagined I think) by ancient Egyptians and historians like Herodotus who in the fifth century BC wrote extensively about the sources of the Nile river. Tanzania, and Kili, then, carry a lot of meaning, and deep historical memory, for me. I haven’t thought about this for a very long time, but one of my fondest memories as a kid growing up in Chicago was going to Brookfield zoo and taking the small train around the the perimeter. It felt to me like being on safari. And I remember saying that I wanted to do a safari in East Africa one day. That come snow as a bonus after the climb, when well spend three days in the Serengeti. All of that as background to climbing Kili, one of the most prominent peaks in the world. I am certain it will take my breath away when I first catch a glimpse of it, and it may well as we start to climb.

My final gear check will happen to tomorrow, I expect a last minute dash to REI. I am hoping to get a few long rides in, and then rest the last few days before departing for JFK early on the 11th.

I’ll post up our itinerary soon.

Gut check time for Kilimanjaro

I received today the final information for the Kili trip, now less than a month away. My first reaction is the one everyone I suppose gets: I’m not ready, not in good enough shape! Do I have everything I need? How will I feel when I actually hit the mountain? In the next few weeks I have a lot of endurance miles to put on the bike. As I write this, it is pouring outside…..Meanwhile Alan Arnette is winding his way back from Russia after a quick and successful climb on Elbrus. Well done Alan! I’m really looking forward to meeting the whole team. So far, the IMG people have been great.

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