On the night of Thursday November 26th 2015 – Thanksgiving – the day before his 75th birthday, Dad passed away due to complications arising from kidney failure earlier in the year. Since 2007, when Mum suffered a debilitating brain hemorrhage, he had spent his time as a full-time carer. What is now tragically apparent, is that while caring for her, he had neglected to care for himself – and a combination of under-performing kidneys along with an incorrect diet caused complete renal failure and ultimately, his untimely death.
As with most cases like this, our family was completely unaware of kidney disease, its prevalence, its causes, how to prevent it or indeed, how to live with it. It is staggering to think that an estimated 1 in 10 people – both in Ireland and the U.S. – may have chronic kidney disease, and many may not know it. What we learned was a case of too little, too late – despite Dad reacting positively to dialysis 3 times a week and sticking to a renal diet, after a brief period of stability, his condition declined and he lost his fight less than 6 months later.
Dad, Mountains & Me
In recent years, Dad had followed my progress in climbing the seven summits (tallest mountain on each continent) with great interest, and lived vicariously through my expeditions while he cared for Mum. We shared a tear-filled long-distance phone call in June 2015 – him in Dublin, me in Alaska – where he assured me that I should not return home, but continue on my climb of Denali – that he would still be alive when I got back down. True to his word, he was. Sadly, he will not get to see me continue and hopefully complete all seven.
Honoring Dad – Mt. Everest / Mt. Vinson Expeditions
Back in March 2017, I embarked on the original Gerry Condon Memorial Expedition, with International Mountain Guides to climb to the summit of Mt. Everest, at 8,848m / 29,029ft, the tallest mountain on earth and what was to be my sixth of the seven summits. As many of you know, unfortunately I had to turn around after making it up the Lhotse face and reaching camp 3, with broken ribs from the infamous “Khumbu Cough”.
Since then, I have been threatening a return to the mountains for some time but a series of injuries over the last 24 months have sidelined me. Until now, that is. Who knows if/when an Everest rematch is on the cards in the future – but for now, I am finally getting active again and heading to Antarctica this January (2020) to climb my sixth, Mt. Vinson. At 16,050 feet this is a more modest climb in terms of altitude and duration, but typically involves climbing with 60lb+ packs and temperatures as low as -40!
More than anything, I wish Dad was still alive to see me attempt this, but that not being possible, I have dubbed this climb – my sixth of the seven summits – the Gerry Condon Memorial Expedition – Mt. Vinson Edition. Once again, I intend to honor his memory by raising money for a very worthy and relevant charity – the American Kidney Fund.
Please join me in the fight against kidney disease by making a donation today – and please subscribe to the blog for updates from my upcoming adventure!
18 thoughts on “Home”
Super excited for you. Congrats on all of your work.
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Thanks Jehan! See you in Kathmandu…
Were all routing for you!! Enjoy every minute and all the luck in the world xo
Look forward to following you journey.
Lydia and I will be thinking of you and wishing you success every step of the way.
Enjoy this epic adventure my friend.
Gerry all the best I hope one day I find an inspiration from this
I am sure ur Dad will be watching you all the way to summit
Your body is ready, my friend! Keep your head in it and we´ll celebrate somewhere, sometime when you return! Stay strong and safe!
Best of Luck to you Justin,
As they say here “sure, you’ll be grand!”
Gerry would be really proud of you as are all of us and I’ll be following your updates closely.
Stay safe out there..
As I told you in DC Justin, you honor the memory of your father with this undertaking not to mention your advocacy work. It was truly my honor to meet you! Good fortune and God bless!
Here is hoping to perfect climbing conditions, good health and fortune on your journey! You have a whole lot of CS people rooting and supporting you back home.
Well done Justin, good luck
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Very inspire Justin. Well done and exited to follow the adventure.
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Thanks Aaron – excited to see you are heading to Vinson this year too! Looking forward to next time we get to catch up.
Dude. You are absolutely mental! I was always envious of your ability to say fck it all and do what made you happy . Watch your step and get home safe.
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Thanks Rory – nice to see you on here! Funny where our paths lead us eh?! Catch up in NYC one day when I am back down.
Love it Justin! Jen, the kids, and I will enjoy following your trek from the warm confines of home. ; ) Stay healthy and safe travels my friend!
Remember the old Irish saying: “ya know, for the owner of a comedy club you don’t have much of a sense of humor!” If you do – all will be good.