On Our Way

Quick update from the departures lounge at Punta Arenas… with an incoming weather system in Antarctica, our flight has been pushed forward a day to avoid a likely delay of several days in the event we wait.

Check-in done and got just about the coolest boarding pass ever…

Now just waiting next 45 mins or so before we board and hopefully wheels up at 4pm local. Approx 5 hour flight to Antarctica and then remains to be seen what type of weather they have and how soon we get connecting flight to Vinson Base Camp.

No internet from here on on but I will be able to do limited posting to map share and twitter (find the first on “links” page: GPS, second can be found on home page) – will provide 1-2 updates daily as we progress.

Here’s hoping for a successful trip and will be in touch!

Gear Check

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Final gear check just performed and happy to report everything in order! Will do a FINAL final gear check down in Punta Arenas tomorrow when I catch up with guide Jon Schrock and make any last-minute tweaks at that point. Bottom line, we are each given 50lbs weight allowance on the plane from Punta to Union Glacier – not including what we have on our body/back. Having been on enough of these trips in the past I am pretty confident the above articles are 50lbs or less, but once you throw in group gear, etc. our packs will quickly become significantly heavier.

Just noticed some kind words from American Kidney Fund this morning – and really want to thank THEM for their support and encouragement – and giving me this opportunity to once again hit the mountains in Dad’s honor and helping raise awareness for this cause. I can hardly believe but it’s been over 4 years now since Dad passed – the years have been jam-packed with their own events and issues and sometimes it is easy to feel like I am losing connection with Dad. Times like these, I get to reestablish that connection, to reflect, and to continue to make some sense of his passing.

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So, given it’s 10:15AM and I have to hit the road at noon, time to wrap up this post and get ready to go. I’ll leave you with a view of the Union Glacier camp we will first stop at in Antarctica, before flying to the more remote Vinson Base Camp – here’s hoping the weather is this good!!

A final thank you to everyone who has helped us reach over $7,700 in fund-raising for the American Kidney Fund – and for anyone still interested in donating, chick here.

Next (and likely final) blog posts from Punta Arenas before we leave for Antarctica!

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The Route

Well, last post gave you the likely itinerary and this time round, I want to give you a few visuals to go with that itinerary – to give you a better idea of the route.

First – a view of the entire climb – moving from Camp 1 on the Branscomb Glacier, traversing around the sheer face (via Camp 2) before making our way up the snow/ice slope to Camp 3 (high camp) and from there, a long day to the summit.

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Next – a view of what lies await on our summit day, moving up from Camp 3…

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And just a quick thank you again to everyone who has donated to the American Kidney Fund – helping us reach almost 5/6 of our fund-raising goal – and for anyone else still interested in helping drive home to our total, you can still click here

 

Logistics & Itinerary

Lot of people asking re: itinerary & logistics – so please see expedition details below from the IMG website:

We fly to Punta Arenas, Chile where the trip begins. From here, we fly in a chartered Russian jet to the Union Glacier camp at 80 degrees south latitude. IMG contracts with Antarctic Logistics &Expeditions for this flight and all our logistics in Antarctica. We then fly in a ski-equipped twin-engine Otter to Vinson Base Camp at 79 degrees south latitude. Vinson Base Camp is located approx. 660 miles from the South Pole; the pilots are Antarctic experts.

The trip will take just over two weeks (weather permitting – as flights on/off Antarctica can be delayed due to bad weather) and is open to only six experienced climbers. Two camps will be established above base camp by making a carry to the new camp prior to moving higher. The climbing will consist of extensive cramponing on moderately steep slopes, where the ability to camp and take care of yourself in extreme conditions is very important. Temperatures can drop to minus 40°. You can think of Vinson as a short Denali climb.

Also – a huge thank you to everyone who has donated so far – even at this early stage, with several matching donations I know the AKF is currently processing, we are already at over 2/3 ($4,000+) of the fund-raising target ($6,000) – so any who is still interested in donating and helping reach the target, please click here.

Itinerary

 

A Long Time Coming…

Well, my last blog post was in May 2018, where I had high hopes for a return to Mt. Everest the following (i.e. this) year. The best laid plans, eh? The last 18 months have been especially injury-prone. I caught the shingles a month after my last blog post – unusually impacting my leg, and the residual nerve pain from that lasted almost until year-end. I ended up losing so much weight that it revealed a hernia, which doctors figure happened, ironically, same time as my broken ribs from the Khumbu Cough! That was operated on promptly, and I did still harbor hopes of yet making it back to Nepal.

I picked up my training – getting out the door at 4AM each day for a 10 mile run from Dec 2018 – Feb 2019, figuring if I couldn’t get up and out in the cold and the dark at home in NJ, then what chance of doing the same back at EBC! My system was definitely still weak though and I suffered a serious chest infection which set me back somewhat.

The final nail in the coffin was on the last mile home on one of my daily runs when a commuter bus exiting a car-park and entering the road I was running on didn’t see me (despite high viz top!!) and while darting to the left to avoid a potential collision that most definitely wouldn’t favor me – I rolled my ankle, very badly – as I would find out later, tearing both tendon and ligament. Expedition over before it had begun. I’ve been in physiotherapy since – and added tennis elbow for good measure, still aching 6 months later!!

It has been a very (VERY) different 18 months from that last blog post in terms of sporting activity – canceling my planned return to Ironman Lake Placid both 2018 & 2019 due to injury, and canceling return to Mt. Everest. Frustrating? You wouldn’t believe how much. But – with that has come some perseverance, some introspection, and with luck, I’ve come out of this stronger mentally, and getting stronger physically. Like the Rolling Stones sang… “You can’t always get what you want… but you just might find… you get what you need”. Here’s hoping.

So, fast forward to now. An Everest rematch is definitely on the cards some day – just not quite yet – but I’m delighted to say that I am finally rejoining my long sidelined quest to climb the Seven Summits by heading to Antarctica on January 6th 2020 to attempt to climb my sixth, Mt. Vinson. At 16,050 feet, this is most certainly a more modest climb in terms of altitude and duration, but is typically climbed with 60lb+ packs in temperatures as low as -40. Best part of all of this is that I am once again reunited with my guide from Everest – Jon Schrock – and cannot wait to hit the hills with him again – been way longer than I think either of us expected.

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I am just back from Dublin over the Thanksgiving weekend, which was the 4 year anniversary of Dad’s passing. Very odd to notice how quickly time flying by, measured against this milestone. I am all too aware that during this time, several people reading this have been impacted by the same or similar grief that kidney disease brought to our family.

It is with this in mind, and a desire to continue to support not only the charity of choice helping people with kidney disease, but also consistently ranked as one of the top charities period, that I am once again fundraising in Dad’s honor for the American Kidney Fund. This time round, calling this the Gerry Condon Memorial Expedition – Mt. Vinson Edition – and hoping for a little more luck and a little less drama than last time you followed my climb on Mt. Everest.

I know you all have many financial demands at this time of year, but once again, I am asking for your generous support to provide a lifeline for thousands of patients facing incredible obstacles. Given this is my attempt on #6 of seven – I have set a target of $6,000 – and much like last time, I hope that together, we can outdo that.

I hope you will consider supporting the AKF and click DONATE to fund the fight today.

I have updated the GPS link for this trip, will be blogging about the climb and will share my photos/videos from Antarctica once back. I hope any of you still reading will find this worth a look.

Thanks & happy holidays!

 

What’s next?

Well,  it’s been quite some time since my last post and I wanted to update the few folks that are still interested 🙂 What’s next? Obviously – with the 2018 Everest season in full swing, and many teams having made or making their summit bids – I am clearly not trying again this year. However, I do plan to return to Nepal next year (2019 season) and give it another go. I have taken stock of many things that went right or wrong last season and truly believe that armed with this knowledge, taking a few preventative measures to avoid a similar fate to last year – i.e. severe Khumbu cough and resulting broken ribs – and getting just a little bit of good luck – I can make it to the top of the world.

It’s a long way out, but I already harbor hopes of returning to EBC with two of my favorite guides – Jon Schrock (lead guide for my trips to Aconcagua and Everest) and Craig John (mentor and all round pal, currently leading IMG’s team 3 in their Everest summit bid). Far from a certainty, but there’s a chance – and these things all matter.

I am already into strict diet & training routine – and have several milestones along the way to keep me motivated and interested – as I found last year it is difficult to stay consistent and applied over a full year of training. I just completed NJ marathon last month, have ironman number 4 back in Lake Placid in July, a half ironman in the same location in September, followed by a marathon back home in Dublin, Ireland in October. All of these events should keep me on my toes and give me a good indication of where my general fitness is over the course of the year.

I plan on providing updates and any items of interest to everyone who followed last year’s trip – I know may folks were curious as to the preparation and planning in the lead up to an expedition like this – well, now may be your chance to have all those questions answered.

More to follow soon…

The Hope Affair (Part 2)

Well, as promised – please see below for the videos from the American Kidney Fund’s Hope Affair down in Washington D.C. earlier this month. It was an honor to be invited to this event and was a really fitting way to wrap up this whole adventure – back with my friends from the AKF after first meeting earlier in the year, prior to the climb.

I had my speech ready to go, along with the second replica of my expedition patch, designed by Sean O’Mara and created by Oliver Knights – to present to the AKF team.

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Very special thanks go to my pal Jehan for keeping me company – and keeping me calm – in the run-up to the speech – and for acting as second videographer on the night so Stef could catch it live from NY. Huge thanks also to Shawn Yancy  (@Fox5Shawn) for the stage intro and making sure I got to the podium – was a deer in the headlights up there!!

The first video is one that the AKF put together by way of introducing my climb and reason behind it – and the second is of my (very nervous) acceptance speech.

Hope you enjoy!