It was a sound that sent shivers up my spine.
As I looked down at my left foot it was only inches from stepping on a coiled timber rattle snake.
I almost lost my balance as I awkwardly fell off my stride due to the unmistakable sound of a rattlers tail which sent an angry message to back off.
I am told that the bite of a rattle snake feels like a hot poker being pressed through your skin though I suppose with a hot poker you have a better chance of recovering.
I suspect I would have lived though the experience as hospital facilities were within an hours’ drive but most outdoor medical manuals will tell you that the venom of a rattlesnake can cause tissue necrology which can lead to the loss of a limb or a permanent scar at the very least.
My actual mission that day was to net red wolves to transfer within Alligator National Refuge in North Carolina.
Although during these trappings my fingers were literally rubbing against the fangs of these wolves it never seemed as quite as scary as being warned by a rattler (they get their name from the hollow beads in the tip of their tails which create the sound of a baby rattle).
During the next several days I would encounter copperheads, rat snakes, cottonmouths, black racers but none of them had the terrifying effect of that rattlesnake.
A good explorer always evaluates each encounter or mistake and asks the question “what could I have done to change the outcome”. In this case I was not bitten (which was luck) but looking back I should not have been so frivolous regarding my movements in a high grassy area that was known to have snakes. Additionally wearing snake boots or some better protective leggings instead of the light weight low top boots that I was wearing would have served me better.
I suppose I should have been spooked during my next two weeks in the North Carolina wetlands but in the final analysis I feel very fortunate that I was granted so many opportunities to see such a variety and quantity of snakes in the wild and last but not least the feeling I had seeing a red wolf (one of the most endangered mammals in the world) running wild is a memory that will last a long time.
Mount Kilimanjaro EXPEDITION
with RICHARD WIESE
OCTOBER 29 – NOVEMBER 10, 2010
Join Richard C. Wiese, past President of The Explorers Club, author of Born to Explore and host of TV series Exploration with Richard Wiese and United States of Adventure, on this epic adventure of a lifetime to the Roof of Africa. We begin our journey with an optional visit to Ngorongoro Crater, a self-contained eco-system that boasts the highest concentration of wildlife in East Africa, and known to many as “The Eighth Wonder of the World”. The first day will be spent on a warm up hike up and down the Empakai Crater. On the second day, your stay at the a lodge on the Crater rim (7,600 feet above sea level) will allow you optimal conditions for acclimatization as well as spectacular views of the Crater floor.
With a head start on your acclimatization for Kilimanjaro, you will return to your lodge located in the hills outside of Arusha. At the climb briefing, you will be meet up with the rest of your group who are not able to join the Ngorongoro extension. This group will have a day before the start of the climb to relax – or to join an optional short hike on Mount Meru Mountain, followed by a picnic lunch and an afternoon game drive in Arusha National Park. These options will give this group some recovery time from their trip and/or a chance for additional acclimatization.
The Kilimanjaro trek begins, pole, pole (Swahili for slowly, slowly), on the most scenic route ascending through Lemosho Glades, via the Western Breach of Kilimanjaro, and joining up with the Machame Route mid-way. Your journey will take you through five distinct climate zones as you reach the glaciated peaks of Kibo. Buffalo and elephant sightings are possible on the first day trekking through the forest. The trail leads up to the western edge of the Shira Plateau, and the hike across the plateau is said to be one of the most stunningly beautiful hikes in Africa.
We’ve also planned to camp inside the crater on the night before the final ascent. We will likely be the only group which is a rare and awe-inspiring experience. The beauty about this plan is that we will be one of the first groups at the summit. The camp is set in soft “beach” sand, and looking from the tent, you can see vertical ice walls up close.
Moreover, the final ascent only takes an hour and a half, versus the normal eight hours beginning at midnight.
This program has been especially designed for optimal acclimatization, safety, comfort – with summit success in mind. The total period on Kilimanjaro is 9 days / 8 nights, the climb/ascent being seven and a half days and the descent a day and a half.
All the trekking is done by daylight except for a few hours of the early morning departure up the Western Breach. Overall this trek is designed to get you closer to nature, and to experience Kilimanjaro in a way that so few others do.
This program is tentatively planned for reaching the summit at sunrise on Easter Sunday (with an optional Easter egg hunt!). Shortly after leaving the summit on Easter Sunday, we will pass by Leopard Point, a location made famous by Ernest Hemingway in the The Snows of Kilimanjaro.
At the end of your climb, you may chose to join an optional safari extension to the Serengeti which boasts an incredible wealth of habitats and diverse African wildlife. To complete your experience of this rich corner of East Africa, you can continue on to Zanzibar, just off the coast of Tanzania, for an exotic few days. Here you will have the opportunity to explore Stone Town and the spice plantations, and of course relax on the island’s pristine Indian Ocean beaches and for those still seeking some adventure, snorkel or dive around the island’s beautiful coral reefs.
YOUR HOST & HEAD GUIDE
Wiese has prided himself in hosting and leading novice and aspiring trekkers. His Kilimanjaro climbs have been featured in The NY Times, Travel and Leisure and in the Men’s Journal, which called the climb one of the 100 greatest adventures. His first ascent on Kilimanjaro was at the age of 11 with his father. This 2010 Expedition will be his fourteenth ascent of Kilimanjaro. He has climbed several times with the expert head guide who will be guiding this trip, Jonas Rutta.
Wiese is a native of Head of the Harbor, NY and spent many of his childhood days fishing in the Stony Brook mill pond. A graduate of Brown University, he started his career as a science journalist. In 2002, he was elected as the youngest president of The Explorers Club in its 100 year history. For the past two years Wiese has been hosting ABC’s Exploration with Richard Wiese and he continues to host various other nature and exploration documentaries. Recently his travels took him to the Denakil Desert in Ethiopia to film a documentary special for BBC and Discovery, The Hottest Place on Earth, for released in 2009. In 2009, his first book, Born to Explore, was published (Harper Collins) and he is producing a new TV series which he will host, United States of Adventure, which will be released in the Fall of 2010.
Kilimanjaro program price per person:
2 nights in Arusha and 8 nights on trek plus services as specified
$5,500? per person sharing (land arrangements)
Single supplement: $500 (for hotel room and tent)
Number of participants: The climb is limited to 12 participants and requires a minimum of 6 participants. Availability is on a first-come-first-serve basis.
Minimum age: 16 years old. No experience in climbing is necessary.
Health requirements: This program involves 9 days on the mountain and contains strenuous activity, and a good level of fitness is essential. It is advised to consult your physician. A yellow fever vaccination and malaria prophylactics are required – please consult your physician or a local travel clinic in this regard.
Optional Extensions: Available upon request and subject to availability.
PRE-climb safari (see itinerary below)
– Ngorongoro Crater (2 nights)
POST-climb safari and island getaway
– Serengeti (3 nights)
– Serengeti and Zanzibar (3 nights plus 4 nights, 7 total)
A detailed program information package will be issued upon booking. This will include a packing list & training guide.
Climb queries: Richard Wiese will be available to answer any questions regarding the trek by phone or email 917-363-5088 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
International air from New York: $1,500-$2,000 coach; business from $6,000. Quote available upon request. Recommended flight is the KLM flight through Amsterdam.
Nicci Young Wies
- A non-refundable deposit of $1,000 per person is required at the time of booking (by check made payable to “Grown Oak LLC”). BOOKING FORM ENCLOSED.
- Balance payable upon confirmation of trip meeting minimum participants’ requirement, estimate June 2010.
- Extension arrangements: Deposit payable to confirm arrangements. Balance due August 2010.
Payment method: You can either mail check, made out to “Grown Oak, LLC”, to: Nicci Young, Young Safaris, 102 Drum Hill Road, Wilton CT 06897; or provide your credit card details (card type, name, number, expiration date and billing address).
In the event of written cancellation, the following forfeiture of the program price will be assessed based on the number of days prior to the trip departure the cancellation was received:
- 31 days or more: 50% of the program price
- 30-16 days: 75% of the program price
- 15-1 days: 100% of the program price
Travel Insurance, which provides coverage for injury illness, trip cancellation and loss or damage of luggage and its contents, is required for participation. Please contact the insurance company directly to make arrangements (suggestions: CSA, Travel Guard, Access America or American Express.)
The price of the travel program INCLUDES:
- All accommodations as specified on Program itinerary
- All meals including mountain cuisine
- Transfers to/from Kilimanjaro International Airport and to/from Kilimanjaro National Park trailheads.
- Tours as specified on Program itinerary
- Porterage of 2 piece(s) of baggage per person
- Lecturer/Host, Richard Wiese who will lead the group.
- Professional mountain guides (NOLS qualified), head guide Jonas Rutta, cooks and porters.
- All safety equipment (including portable altitude chamber and oxygen for emergency use).
- All camping equipment.
- All communication techniques (radio, satellite phones, cell phones).
- AMREF flying doctors insurance coverage
- Comprehensive medical/first aid kits
The price of the program does not include:
Costs of obtaining passports or visas; laundry; communication charges; optional safari extension pre- and post-climb; optional Zanzibar extension; optional activities; international airfare; airport departure taxes and any other applicable airport taxes; excess baggage fees; travel insurance; health insurance; gratuities to guides, porters up the mountain and transfer drivers; room service charges; sleeping bags, or other personal trekking gear.
** Day 3 Optional day hike in Arusha National Park (see itinerary below): $120 per person and payable on site. This includes transfers round trip, park fees, lunch and driver(s) allowance.**
A gear rental list is available upon request.
|Friday, October 29||Day 1||Depart New York / JFK Airport (evening)
Fly to Arusha, via Amsterdam
|Onboard flight to Amsterdam|
|Saturday, October 30||Day 2||Arrive in Arusha / Kilimanjaro International Airport (evening)
Met on arrival and transferred to your lodge for dinner /overnight.
|Overnight in Arusha, Kigongoni Lodge or other (HB) TBC|
|Sunday, October 31||Day 3||Rest day in Arusha – with optional hike and game drive activities Mount Meru
Optional excursion: Transfer to Mount Meru Mountain for a hike for acclimatization purposes, followed by a picnic lunch and an afternoon game drives in Arusha National Park.
|Overnight in Arusha, Kigongoni Lodge or other (HB) TBC|
|Monday, November 1||Day 4||Kilimanjaro Day 1:
LEMOSHO TRAILHEAD (7,800 ft./ 2,375 m) ~ FOREST CAMP (9,300 ft./ 2,830 m)
Departure from Arusha will be at around 7:30am for Londorossi gate, about 4hours, where you will complete entry formalities. Then drive to the Lemosho trailhead (another hour to reach the trailhead). Upon arrival at trailhead, eat lunch, then commence through undisturbed forest which winds to the first camp, only about 3-4 hours of trekking.
|Overnight at Forest Camp (Mtee
|Tuesday, November 2||Day 5||Kilimanjaro Day 2:
FOREST CAMP ~ SHIRA 1 CAMP (12,200 ft./ 3,720 m)
Once out of the forest, take a steep track into a Savannah of tall grasses, heather, and volcanic rock draped with lichen beards. Ascend through the lush rolling hills below the Shira plateau, finally reaching camp at the edge of the plateau, a day of 5-6 hours trekking. The view of Kibo from across the plateau is amazing.
|Overnight at Shira 1 Camp|
|Wednesday, November 3||Day 6||Kilimanjaro Day 3:
SHIRA 1 CAMP ~ SHIRA 2 CAMP (12,600 ft./ 3,900 m)
Full day exploration of the Shira plateau; Trek east toward Kibo’s glaciered peak, with the option to visit the ancient collapsed Shira cone, the oldest of Kilimanjaro’s three volcanoes. Arrive at Shira 2 camp (Fischers’ Camp), at 12,600 ft. Shira is one of the highest plateaus on earth, averaging over 12,000 feet. Trekking time without the optional excursions is about 3 hours.
|Overnight at Shira 2 Camp|
|Thursday, November 4||Day 7||Kilimanjaro Day 4:
SHIRA 2 CAMP ~ MOIR CAMP (13,800 ft./ 4,205 m)
Proceed steadily upward through the heather and into the barren high altitude desert, toward the “Shark’s Tooth”, to Moir Camp. The trek is about 2-3 hours. Moir camp is an isolated and seldom used camp affording views over the Shira Plateau, and north into Kenya’s Amboselli Game Reserve. Adding this day provides an extra day on the magnificent Shira Plateau, and moreover an extra day of valuable acclimatization.
|Overnight at Moir Camp|
|Friday, November 5||Day 8||Kilimanjaro Day 5:
MOIR CAMP ~ LAVA TOWER CAMP (15,000 ft./4,570 m.)
Proceed steadily up and down the expansive ridgelines of high desert to Lava Tower. The trek is about 4 hours. Lava Tower, a 300 foot volcanic plug, marks an exposed pass at 15,000 feet, where the campsite is set. Scramble to the top of Lava Tower for fabulous panoramic views, and a different perspective of your campsite.
|Overnight at Lava Tower Camp|
|Saturday, November 6||Day 9||Kilimanjaro Day 6:
LAVA TOWER CAMP ~ ARROW GLACIER CAMP (16,100 ft./ 4,905 m)
A 1.5 – 2 hour-trek up a steep, boulder-strewn path bring us to Arrow Glacier camp, at the foot of the great Western Breach. From this campsite rises the steep path up to the crater. The massive headwall of the breach glows a warm red in the afternoon sun, while you rest in camp in preparation for the most challenging day ahead.
|Overnight at Arrow Glacier Camp|
|Sunday, November 7||Day 10||Kilimanjaro Day 7:
ARROW GLACIER CAMP ~ CRATER CAMP (18,750 ft./ 5,715m)
After a 2am wake-up call and a hot breakfast, we begin to ascend the Western Breach at 3am, which will take approximately 5-7 hours. Upon reaching the crater rim, we’ll be treated to a stunning view of the Northern Icefields, the Furtwangler Glacier, and Uhuru Peak itself. Another
30 minutes will take us to our camp, set in soft sands near the retreating vertical ice walls of the Furtwangler glacier. Rest and replenish in the mess tent, then opt to explore the strange lunar landscape of the inner crater, to include a visit to Reusch Crater, the ash pit, and the glaciers. So few that trek Kilimanjaro ever experience the summit zone in this way.
|Overnight at Crater Camp|
|Monday, November 8||Day 11||Kilimanjaro Day 8 – Summit Day and begin descent:
CRATER CAMP ~ UHURU PEAK (19,340 ft./ 5,895 m) ~ MWEKA CAMP (10,070 ft./ 3,070 m)
Rise early to watch the sunrise from the summit, which will take about 1.5 hours from Crater Camp. After a short time at the summit, descend along the gently sloping crater rim to Stella Point, then descend back to Barafu Camp for lunch. In the afternoon continue the descent into the Heather Zone to Mweka Camp for the night. The trekking time from Uhuru Peak to Mweka Camp will be from 6-8 hours. Total trekking time is from 8-10 hours.
|Overnight at Mweka Camp|
|Tuesday, November 9||Day 12
|Kilimanjaro Day 9: Reach base of Kilimanjaro:
MWEKA CAMP ~ MWEKA GATE (5,370 ft. /1,635 m)
Descend straight to the gate (2-3 hours), where you’ll have lunch and will be awarded climbing certificates. Transfer back to Arusha for a much-welcomed shower!
Option 1 – Day room at Keo Hotel, Arusha. Fly to New York via Amsterdam.
Option 2 – Safari extension – Climb debrief & safari trip briefing.
|Option 1 – Day room in Arusha at Keo Hotel TBC. Overnight on board flight from Arusha to Amsterdam.
Option 2 – Overnight in Arusha, Kigongoni Lodge or other (HB) TBC
|Wednesday, November 10||Day 13||Arrive in New York (JFK) in the late afternoon.||n/a|
OPTIONAL SAFARI EXTENSIONS
Itineraries for a pre-climb safari extension (Ngorongoro Crater) and/or post-climb safari and island getaway (Serengeti & Zanzibar) are available upon request and subject to availability. If your schedule allows, the pre-climb safari is recommended for acclimatization and detailed below.
The Ngorongoro Crater pre-climb safari is a wonderful experience and only adds two days to your trip. The Ngorongoro Crater is at an altitude of about 7500 feet above sea level and spending two nights at the Crater will help on the acclimatization process. While at the crater guests can have a full day Empakai Crater hike with an armed ranger and a local Maasai guide. The Empakai Crater is full of bird life and an occasional buffalo and other game. This hike will warm the muscles and at the same time, invigorate climbers with the fresh air of the wild African bush…
|Date 2008||Day #||
|Wednesday, October 27||Extra Day 1||New York – Amsterdam
Depart New York in the evening for Arusha, via Amsterdam
|On board flight from New York to Amsterdam.|
|Thursday, October 29||Extra Day 2||Arrive Arusha
Arrival in Arusha, Kilimanjaro International Airport, in the evening. Met on arrival at the Kilimanjaro Airport – transferred to your lodge for dinner and overnight.
|Overnight in Arusha, Kigongoni Lodge or other (HB)
|Friday, October 29||= Day 1
of Main itinerary above
|Transfer to Ngorongoro Crater / Empakai Crater
Breakfast at the hotel, after which you will be met by your driver guide for your safari briefing. Depart for Ngorongoro – full day Empakai Crater hike with an armed ranger with picnic lunches. Transferred to Ngorongoro Crater Serena Lodge on the rim of the crater for dinner and overnight.
|Overnight at Ngorongoro Crater Serena Lodge or other (FB) TBC|
|Saturday, October 30||Day 2||Ngorongoro Crater
Full day crater tour with picnic lunches. Return to the lodge for dinner and overnight.
|Overnight in Ngorongoro Crater Serena Lodge or other (FB) TBC|
|Sunday, October 31||Day 3||Transfer to Arusha
After lunch at the lodge, depart for Arusha. Pass a few places of interest for shopping and town tour. Drop off at your hotel in Arusha for your dinner and overnight.
Join balance of group who arrive on only on Saturday October 30 (Day 2 of main itinerary).
|Overnight in Arusha, Kigongoni Lodge or other (HB) TBC|
MESSAGE FROM RICHARD WIESE
Probably no other mountain in the world has the same mystique and appeal of Kilimanjaro, the highest peak in Africa at 19,340 ft. It is also the highest mountain on earth that is not part of a mountain range and its snow-capped peak hovers majestically over the African plain. This is the most famous large mountain that a novice climber can scale. It rises majestically from the hot savannah to a frigid glacier . In the nine times that I have climbed Kilimanjaro, I have discovered that journey to the summit can be a profound and life altering experience.
Mount Kilimanjaro is one of the few places in the world where ice and snow can be found on the equator. The ice fields Ernest Hemingway once described as “wide as all the world, great, high, and unbelievably white in the sun” have lost 82 percent of their ice since 1912—the year their full coverage was first measured, but most scientists believe tropical glaciers began receding as early as the 1850’s.
According to leading climatologists if current climatic conditions persist, the legendary glaciers, icing the peaks of Africa’s highest summit for nearly 12,000 years, could be gone entirely within two decades. Having personally visited Mount Kilimanjaro several times since the early 1970’s I can unequivocally say that through observation that the size of its glaciers has noticeably diminished.
However, Nature’s Betsy Mason argues that “although it’s tempting to blame the (Kilimanjaro) ice loss on global warming, researchers think that deforestation of the mountain’s foothills is the more likely culprit.” With a growing population and more farming forests at the base of Kilimanjaro have been steadily disappearing for decades. “Without the forests’ humidity,” Mason reports, “previously moisture-laden winds blew dry. No longer replenished with water, the ice is evaporating in the strong equatorial sunshine.”
On my October 2007 expedition to Kilimanjaro, I placed a weather station atop the Kilimanjaro peak as part of Global Warming monitoring mission. I subsequently returned to Uhuruh Peakto observe the weather monitoring progress. The research garnered from this station will hopefully assist the scientists in measuring the impact on the glacier – both above and below.
I look forward to guiding you before we travel and on the mountain.
“When your feet are cold, cover your head.” – Inuit saying
Many years ago I met Enzo Ferrari the legendary auto maker. During our conversation he told me the reason why Ferrari participated in the immensely expensive business of formula one racing was not for profit but rather for the opportunity to learn more about the limits of their cars.
By pushing the limits of their technology it was a great way to learn about engineering weakness’s or strengths which in theory could be applied to their consumer cars.
The same principles of extreme testing can be applied to traveling in the outdoors.
A couple of years ago I spent a month in the Ethiopian Desert considered the hottest place on earth in which I learned many techniques and strategies for staying cool.
To this day I employ these principles to my summer life here in the US.
Although I have not traveled to the coldest place on earth, I have been exposed to cold weather conditions my entire life. It however was not until I cross country skied to the North Pole did I really learn about staying warm. My mission really presented a new set of obstacles in keeping warm. First of all it was cold. Temperatures never got above -25. That in its self is fine but since I was skiing I was sweating quite a bit and ever time we stopped I would start shivering (almost uncontrollably) from the layer of sweat on my body.
Many people make the mistake of dressing too warmly which creates excessive sweating. This sweat can freeze inside your clothes and turn into frostbite. This is exactly what happened to Captain Robert Scott and his crew in 1912 while returning from their final expedition to Antarctica. The men on that expedition were adequately insulated and could move about easily, however their clothes lacked the ability to dissipate sweat. Also, these explorers could not add or remove insulating layers without exposing their hands and wrists to the harsh elements. Although their clothing wasn’t the cause of their death, it was certainly a contributing factor.
Whether you are exploring Antarctica, or winter camping in Wisconsin, there are now well known techniques for staying insulated and dry. When you’re dressing for really cold weather, remember the following three pieces of advice:
Keep the body warm, particularly fingers, toes, ears, and nose. The extremities can get very cold very quickly. Fingers and toes have a high surface area compared to their volume – this means they lose heat easily and generate and retain heat poorly. Particular attention should be paid to keeping them warm.
Wear something that pulls the sweat away from your skin. Sweat can freeze and this can lead to frostbite and hyp0thermia.
Be comfortable. Allow for free and easy movement and also make sure you can adjust your layers to stay comfortable without exposing any skin to the elements.
Explorers have known the importance of this layer since the discovery of the string vest for the British Graham Land Expedition to Antarctica in 1934. The string vest was created to ensure dissipation of sweat. Science has come a long way and now you can wear soft, comfortable synthetic materials that wick away perspiration quickly so you stay dry. *Remember never use cotton because it retains water and keeps you wet and cold. Explorers generally refer to cotton as death cloth.
This layer goes over the wicking layer. It is best to wear several lightweight layers of clothing to insure that you can remove layers if you get too warm. I am a huge fan of wool underwear. Most people falsely believe that it will be itchy but that simply is not the case. Wool is also one of the few fabrics that retains heat even when wet. I have found polar fleece terrible when wet. An added bonus with wool is it is antimicrobial so it doesn’t stink if you wear it a few days in a row.
The Outer Layer
This is the layer that is directly exposed to the elements and should be windproof. Unless you are somewhere with rainfall it is not best to have a waterproof jacket. This is because waterproof garments do not release sweat. This layer can be made of natural or synthetic fibers. I look for jackets that have ventilation.
Keeping your feet warm and dry is very important.
To keep your toes warm make sure you have boots with thick soles, felt insulation, insoles and nylon outers. The thicker your soles the better. I am always amused at people wearing sneakers or thin soled shoes in freezing weather. To keep your feet dry it is essential that you let moisture vent. Rubber duck boats are horrible as they may be water proof but your feet quickly sweat and then get cold. Carry extra socks with you in a waterproof packet. You can dry wet socks against your back or chest. Wash your feet and put on dry socks daily. On an expedition it may be impossible to wash your socks so I always keep one pair as an emergency only pair. Wool socks are great. In really cold weather I tend to wear a pair of silk liners and one heavy pair of wool socks. Often peoples feet get cold because they put too pairs on and it restricts circulation in their boot. It is important to be able to wiggle your toes.
The best way to keep your fingers warm is to wear mittens. Mittens are much warmer than gloves. The reason is simple: inside a mitten, your fingers can pool their warmth. People often get cold fingers when they grip an ice ax or ski poles too tight. You especially need circulation to outer extremities.
My mom always told me the dumber your hat looks, the warmer it is. The head can lose up to 20% of the body’s heat, in cold weather, the quickest and simplest thing that can be done to warm up is to put on a hat. Before the hat, consider wearing a polypropylene headband to cover forehead and ears for added warmth, then place a ski hat or cap made of wool, fleece or polypropylene. If you are wearing a wearing a parka with an attached hood, put this hood up for added protection from wind and wetness. *Remember to always wear your hat, even when sleeping and to carry an extra hat with you in case a layer gets wet or your head isn’t warm enough.
Prolonged exposure to sun can result in permanent eye damage.
Many years ago I was climbing with a college buddy of mine on Kilimanjaro and we summitted on a beautiful sunny day. We were so happy to be there that my friend took a nap and I wandered around for a few hours taking pictures ( without glasses) and later that night it felt like someone through sand into my eyes. I had injured my eyes and had snow blindness. Fortunately in a few days my eyes recovered but it was a painful lesson that I will never forget.
To treat snow blindness, bandage your eyes until the symptoms disappear. You can prevent snow blindness by wearing sunglasses. If you don’t have sunglasses, improvise. Cut slits in a piece of cardboard, thin wood, tree bark, or other available material. Putting soot under your eyes will help reduce shine and glare.
The Neglected Areas:
When the body is insulated including extremities, the next most vulnerable regions become those that don’t normally lose heat. Wrists, ankles and the neck region can soon become very cold and uncomfortable. They can lose a lot of heat if not wrapped up as they pass the blood between other well insulated areas. Some ideas are to wear high boots that cover the ankles, mittens with long wrist cuffs that reach about half way up the forearm, a scarf or neck gaiter.
Food and Water:
Think of your body as a furnace during cold weather. It is important to keep the body stoked with fuel. Eating a lot and a lot of carbohydrates helps. Always have some trail mix or snacks in an outer pocket that’s easy to reach during cold weather activity. You will be surprised how much eating carbohydrates made of simple sugars (such as candy bars) helps to keep your body warm.
Have you ever noticed that when you are cold you have to pee more frequently? It is actually because liquid takes more energy to warm than the rest of your body. Your body tries to get rid of extra liquid so it can keep the rest of your body warm. This is also one of the reasons you need to drink just as much water during the winter as you do during the summer. Dehydration leads to an increased chance of developing frostbite and hypothermia. One of the ways you can tell if you are dehydrated is to look at the color of your pee (and I know you look). It should be clear. If it is yellow than you should be drinking more water.
Following the directions provide an explorer with preventative ways to deal with injury and sickness. However, it is important to know what to do if you find yourself unprepared. The following are cold injuries that can occur and ways of treating them.
Hypothermia is the lowering of the body temperature at a rate faster than the body can produce heat. Causes of hypothermia may be general exposure or the sudden wetting of the body by falling into a lake or spraying with fuel or other liquids.
The initial symptom is shivering. This shivering begins when your body’s core temperature falls to about 96 degrees F. When your body is below 95 degrees F, you may become irrational and even have a false feeling of warmth. Below 90 degrees F your muscles will become rigid and you will loose consciousness. If your core temperature falls below 77 degrees F, death is almost certain.
It is important to be aware of the symptoms so you can treat hyperthermia before you get too cold. Here are some tips:
Try to find a dry place protected from the wind.
If you have any dry clothing or blankets take off any wet clothes and replace them with dry ones.
Stuff dry grass or leaves down your shirt as insulation to keep warm.
My favorite method of getting warm is putting hot water in my water bottle and putting it on my chest.
Peeing in a bottle and using it as a hot water bottle to keep warm during the cold night. Heat rocks on a fire, then bury them under dirt and sleeping on them during a cool night.
Eat! Especially sugar, candy, honey, sweet ripe fruit or fruit juice, rice, bread, plantains or potatoes.
If you can make steam put a towel or jacket over the victims head and let them inhale hot steamy air.
Stay close to other people and use body heat to warm up.
*Remember never rewarm someone too rapidly. This can cause heart failure.
Frostbite is the result of frozen tissues. Light frostbite involves only the skin that takes on a dull whitish color. Deep frostbite extends to a depth below the skin. The tissues become solid and immovable. Your feet, hands, and exposed facial areas are particularly vulnerable to frostbite.
The best frostbite prevention, when you are with others, is to use the buddy system. Check your buddy’s face often and make sure that he checks yours. If you are alone, periodically cover your nose and lower part of your face with your mittened hand.
The following pointers will aid you in keeping warm and preventing frostbite when it is extremely cold or when you have less than adequate clothing:
Ears. Wiggle and move your ears.
Face. Maintain circulation by twitching and wrinkling the skin on your face.
Hands. Move your hands inside your mittens. Warm by placing your hands under your or a buddy’s armpits.
Feet. Move your feet and wiggle your toes inside your boots. Place your feet under your buddy’s jacket against their stomach.
Defrosting a Frozen Part of Your Body:
Caution: Do not start treatment for severe frostbite until you are in a place where the person’s whole body can be kept warm during and after treatment. It is better to let a hand or a foot stay frozen for several hours than to let it get warm and then freeze again. When you get to a warm, protected place:
Fill a large container with warm water (not hot) that feels comfortable when you hold your hand in it.
Soak the person’s frozen part in the water until it gets warm.
As it gets warm, the frozen part with become very painful. Give that person aspirin.
When it is no longer frozen, the person must stay warm and rest.
Be gentle with the part that was frozen. Treat as you would a severe wound or burn.
 Information on Hypothermia and Frostbite was found in Where There is No Doctor a village health care handbook by David Werner, with Carol Thuman and Jane Maxwell. Copyright 1992 by the Hesperian Foundation page: 408-409.
One of my most humbling experiences as an explorer was on an expedition to Mt. Everest. As an Explorer in Residence for the American Museum of Natural History, I was asked to be a member of a team conducting medical research on Mt. Everest. Our mission was to conduct the largest human medical study ever performed at high altitude, aiding research for intensive care units. A river of zigzagging Sherpa and porters carried gear and huge crates to our base camp. The nobility of our purpose made me feel part of something larger than exploration. I had just come back from cross-country skiing to the North Pole and guiding an expedition on Mt. Kilimanjaro, but this expedition felt different. Looking down at the caravan of porters, I felt like I was on a movie set or part of the original “old-time” expeditions that are depicted in movies. I flew from Kathmandu in to the narrow airstrip at Lukla.
Through some of the small villages I entered “the kingdom of sky and mountains.” On teal colored shutters on modest homes spinning prayer wheels and flags blow in the wind. On the trail I encountered trekker-traffic jams caused by yaks. Pink and white rhododendron forests bloomed, children played with tires around yak dung fires.
Through out our journey we were shadowed by an IMAX film crew which was filming the tenth anniversary of the tragic Into Thin Air accident that occurred on Everest. In a village nearby Namche Bazar, we asked the director of the film to show and give us commentary of their famous Everest IMAX film which was such a huge success in theatres around the world. In the film the most poignant and tear jerking moment was when Everest Guide Rob Hall was dying on the slopes of Everest and was patched through his walkie-talkie to his seven month-pregnant wife Jan in New Zealand. He spoke about the child he would never have the opportunity to see grow. The moment was so personal between a dying climber and his pregnant wife that it felt intrusive, like I should not be privy to such an intimate moment. The day after watching this film, I continued on my trek, and all I could think about was the Hall family. It was just so tragic, and I couldn’t even imagine what it would be like if it had happened to me.
That evening I stopped at a teahouse and started a game of poker near a wood burning stove. A cute little girl with blonde hair tapped me on the shoulder and asked if she could join. I was immediately taken. I asked her name, and she introduced herself as Sarah Hall. Everyone in our game instantly understood the connection between last night’s film and the little girl standing in front of us, and the emotion was palpable. I simply asked her what she was doing here on Everest.
Sarah explained that she had come to Everest with her mother to visit the memorial of her father for the first time. We were all astounded. I wanted to cry out or hug her, but knew that it would be an invasion of privacy if we talked any more of her father. We simply finished playing our game of poker, and that was the last I saw of her.
Several days later, within five minutes of getting into Everest base-camp, a massive avalanche exploded. Whiteness engulfed me, but luckily the cascading snow and ice passed off to the side allowing me to witness it safely.
This event reminded me how hostile and unpredictable an environment like Everest can be, and the best that I can do is to just be as prepared as possible. Every expedition, I ask myself who would want to put themselves though such hardship, yet I gained new insight on this trip.
At night when I took the time to stop on the cool ice or snowy terraces and look up, clouds cleared and the sky opened, revealing a carpet of stars brighter than I ever imagined and more than I ever thought existed. Somewhere in these glimpses, feeling part of a greater universe blew through me and I saw purpose in what I was doing. According to the data I am “F-16”, a research number representing a test-subject, which reminded me that on this expedition I was not an individual explorer, but part of something much larger. Our research will help doctors immensely, and from our interactions with Nepalese people and Sarah Hall, our expedition turned from a trekking-trip into an expedition with a noble cause much bigger than Everest.
The first adage of exploration is to be prepared and the second is to be able to adapt to changing conditions. So recently on a camping trip to Cockenoe Island off of Westport CT( part of the Norwalk Islands ),when we discovered that we had only one sleeping bag for two persons on a cold November nigh,t the latter adage came into play since the former ( being prepared) had not being followed.
My friend Marlon (an ex South African game ranger) and I could have turned around and paddled back half an hour to shore during the final moments before sunset and retrieved the bag from my car or called it a day and gone home and slept in a bed.
Instead we thought this would be a good opportunity under somewhat controlled conditions to hone some of our survival skills.
First thing we did was to make a raging fire on the beach head where we were camping. There was plenty of drift wood to burn though much of it was old oil soaked railroad ties (quite noxious).
Secondly I remembered from my experience cross country skiing to the North Pole that eating a lot was important to keeping warm. The analogy was that of stoking a furnace with fuel.
Luckily I had prepared all the ingredients for a really hearty beef stew and brought my camping pressure cooker (GSI brand). Within 40 minutes both Marlon and I sat on a makeshift bench in front of a roaring fire dipping bread into a hearty stew. For desert I brought bananas which we split and stuffed with butter and chocolate which we cooked in their peels over the fire (very nice). Being well feed makes a big difference.
Even being within sight of the coast dotted with lights it was fantastic to be under the stars looking out over a silent and boat-less Long Island Sound.
We sat and chatted till almost ten putting off the inevitable of trying to sleep without a sleeping bag for each of us.
Both Marlon and I had air mattresses which is really key for keeping your body warm as even a small layer of air acts as insulation from the cold ground.
As a huge fan of wool products for the outdoors I was outfitted from head to toe with Smart Wool socks, underwear, vest and hat. Wool stays relativity warm even if wet (which was not an issue).
Since our Golite tent utilized walking sticks inside the tents as its frame mechanism, we placed these poles upright in the middle our one mummy bag. This would eliminate any issue of one person pulling the cover onto them (consciously or unconsciously).
One the problems with using a mummy sleeping bag as a blanket is that the bottom section is tapered. Indeed we were only would be only be able to coverer ourselves to about our waists.
I used a large black trash bag to put my feet and legs in. Obviously garbage bags don’t breath so I was conscious of leaving it open so would not sweat too much and ultimately get cold.
The night got into the mid 30’s F and as you can imagine neither of us slept very well (probably 3 hours max) but in the morning we were treated to a spectacular sunrise and the satisfaction of knowing we could survive our situation in relative comfort.
In the end I was glad I had a tent mate that was enthusiastically up the task and that we enjoyed the experience HOWEVER next time I will make sure that we are fully prepared as I would like to be in contact with nature and not my tentmate.
Mylar is more than a fashion statement
Recently while packing for an expedition I was going through my Adventure Medical Kit and started thinking about multiple uses for some of the items in the kit .
I have always thought the mark of a good explorer is being able to take an item or piece of equipment and use it for a host of varying situations. I guess the example most people think about is duct tape. It is the material that is the holy grail of wilderness versatility however I started looking at my shiny space blanket (Mylar sheet) and I thought what would what might MacGyver use Mylar for?
First of all Mylar sounds like an ominous, extraterrestrial substance, but it is actually present at most birthday parties you go to. Mylar is the trademark name by Dupont, and it is basically the silver stuff that party balloons are made of or computer parts are stored in or even food is stored. Most people will recognize Mylar as the thin, silver blanket that they hand out at the end of marathons or the “space blankets” that you find in your Adventure medical kit.
Mylar has been around a lot longer than most people think, and even Wikipedia falsely says that it was invented by the space industry in 1964. On the contrary, it was actually developed by Dupont Mylar in 1952 when it grew out of the development of Dacron, and was first used by NASA for their Echo Satellites in 1960.
So what might MacGyver use Mylar for?
First, he would use it for an emergency blanket; he would know that it works the same way a thermos does to keep heat and reduce heat losses in a person’s body due to thermal radiation and convection.
In the same manner that it keeps a person warm, sheets of Mylar covering a tent’s inner walls with the shiny surface facing inward, keeps a tent warm. It reflects body heat back into the tent, warming the interior more efficiently.
On the other hand, in an extreme heat situation, covering the outer walls with the shiny surface facing outward will reflect the sun’s heat away from the tent, cooling the interior more efficiently. Using a sheet of Mylar will protect the body from heat as it will reflect the suns heat.
However, it might not be a good idea to wrap ones self tightly in Mylar in hot weather because body heat would get trapped by the airtight foil, and you would be the equivalent of a baked potato in an oven. Seems counterproductive no?
MacGyver would also use Mylar to fashion a tent or tarp for protection when the elements got the better of him.
In addition, he would also probably make a hot air balloon or create a kite to aid in rescuers with visual ques.
Since Mylar can be made into balloons it can also be used to make water or food storage bags. Mylar is incredibly heat resistant but you probably cook food or boil water in it for water purification.
With good sunlight Mylar can be woven in to parabolic baskets and made into solar cookers that can be used to cook food or pasteurize water during emergencies when other fuels and power sources may not be available.
Although it is used for solar sails in outer space, in a pinch it could also be used to make a makeshift sail for a canoe or a small boat. A word of caution: Though Mylar is a very strong material, it rips quite easily, and should be avoided when trying to catch gale force winds.
Mylar can be easily made into glacier glasses because you can see through the material in very bright light. Naturally, MacGyver would probably be traveling to a destination with a solar eclipse and would also use it as an inexpensive solar eclipse viewer. Care must be taken however because invisible fissures can form in the metal film, reducing its effectiveness.
Obviously, in an emergency situation, it is a big help if you are found right away. Not only can a sheet of Mylar be used to signal rescuers, but in true MacGyver fashion, he would know that radar waves can be reflected by certain substances such as aluminized Mylar, a lot like the way that light is reflected by a mirror. You want the surface to be hard so it doesn’t distort and affect the reflectivity for the radar waves. Think about looking at yourself in a nice, clean, smooth mirror. You get a good representation of what you look like because the light waves aren’t redirected by surface irregularities.
Though metalized party balloons aren’t great radar reflectors, they’d be much better than nothing in an emergency. But then again, McGuyver might just keep them as welcome balloons—if he couldn’t be in control of the situation, at least he could enjoy the spectacle!
As a boy growing up during the Apollo moon missions we were told that the moon was a dry, desolate and lifeless place.
Today NASA announced that a secret that the moon has been holding, for perhaps billions of years, is now being revealed.
“Indeed, yes, we found water. And we didn’t find just a little bit, we found a significant amount,” said Anthony Colaprete, principal investigator from NASA’s Ames Research Center.
Preliminary data from indicates that the mission successfully uncovered water during the Oct. 9, 2009 impacts into the permanently shadowed region of Cabeus cater near the moon’s South Pole.
Obviously the moon is not wet by Earth standards but it is still wetter than some of our drier deserts here on earth.
“This is ice that’s potentially been there for billions of years,” said Doug Cooke, associate administrator at Exploration Systems Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters.
The fact that we have found water on the moon is not the end of the story as this no doubt will open up all sorts of new views and theories on where it came from and where else it may be.
The paradigms of science continuously change. As a geology student at Brown University in the 1980’s the theory of plate tectonics was only ratified a decade or so earlier yet I cannot imagine speaking about the earth without it.
It seems like only yesterday that we were told that there were only 9 planets which already seems so arcane.
“One way of saying it is, this is not your father’s moon,” said team member Gregory Delory of the University of California at Berkeley.
Earlier this week the Vatican announced they were open to the idea of life elsewhere in the universe and today we discover water on the moon. We live in exciting times
400 years ago after imprisoning Galileo for suggesting that the earth was not at the center of the universe (heliocentrism), the Vatican declared that life could exist elsewhere in the universe.
The Vatican’s top astronomer Father Jose Gabriel Funes led a week-long conference on astrobiology, and stated that extraterrestrial life was a valid area of investigation for the Catholic Church.
The fact this conference was organized by the Vatican seems to be a radical shift in its views on life.
Father Jose Gabriel Funes, who Father Funes said: ‘Although astrobiology is a new and developing field, questions on the origins of life and the presence of life in the universe outside Earth are legitimate issues and merit serious consideration.
‘It makes sense to see if other forms of life exist beyond the earth, but for the time being though there is no evidence to prove that such life does exist.
‘This does not clash with our faith because we cannot set limits on God’s creative freedom.
‘To quote St Francis, if we view earthly creatures as our brothers and sisters, why can’t we speak of a brother from another planet?’
Even the subject of astrobiology or non-earth life for the mainstream scientific community is an interesting shift in our paradigm of what we think is absolute truth in science. As a boy I remember being told that there were 9 planets and that life existed in a narrow and fragile band somewhere above freezing and below boiling. We now know that there are limitless planets and that the formation of life is more robust than previously thought.
I think this is a big step forward for the Vatican as it shows a willingness to merge faith and science and get away from dogma. As a skeptic and scientist I have come to realize that there is a missing link between modern science and ancient mysticism. I applaud the Catholic Church for this responsible step forward.
Yesterday the internet news sites were abuzz with the headlines “Glaciers disappearing from Kilimanjaro” and went on to say that the fabled snows of Kilimanjaro ( Africa’s tallest mountain) will be gone within the next two decades if the current conditions exist.
Kilimanjaro and its equatorial glaciers have also become emblematic of global warming and was cited as an example in Al Gores academy award winning documentary “An inconvenient truth”
The real truth is that global warming may not be the biggest contributing factor in its receding glaciers.
There is strong evidence that these once mighty snow fields have been receding for several centuries.
Global wrming only began to take effect in Tanzania in the early 20th century.
The flaw of the global warming theory is that the summit of Kilimanjaro rarely gets above freezing though I do have to admit on a recent expedition to its crater i experienced rain for the first time in my almost 40 years of venturing onto to its slopes.
The real culprit is increased solar radiation ( more sunshine ) and less precipitation ( snow) during the last century.
It has been suggested that East Africa’s growing population specifically around the base of the mountain has lead to more land being cleared of trees and planted as farms ( which divert water from lakes).
As a result of less trees (and foliage) which in a micro ( and macro )climate pumps moisture into the air. Less moisture leads to reduced cloud cover and precipitation. Reduced cloud coverage lets more sunlight filter through and hit the glaciers and increased sunshine causes evaporation of glacial ice.
A viscous cycle.
As more snow melts and the dark volcanic ash and rock in its crater and on its slopes are exposed the evaporation of ice is accelerated. Think of the area surrounding asphalt on a snow covered driveway heating up and melting ice even when the air temperatures are below freezing.
What to do?
Interestingly enough three years ago during an expedition sponsored by Abercrombie and Kent Philanthropy we erected the first complete weather station on Kilimanjaro.
We felt that it is tough to comment or make a scientific assessment on a mountains climate without real scientific data. Hopefully this will stimulate intelligent conversation on the subject.
In addition there has been discussion with Kilimanjaro National Park and the Tanzanian government regarding replanting the slopes and surrounding area with more tree’s.
Kilimanjaro is emblematic of so many things but it would be an inconvenient half truth to say its global warming.
Tree Ring from the Prosek Farm in Conneticut
Last summer I attended Wooden Boat building school in Brooklin Maine to obviously learn how to build a wooden boat. In my case I built along with my classmates a Westport Skiff which I sail to this day ironically enough in Westport Connecticut.
What really intrigued me the most in this boat building exercise is that we actually cut planks to be used in the construction of our boat from felled local tree’s.
The reason that intrigued me is that while I can intellectualize that wooden floors ,pencils and furniture come from tree’s to actually be part of the process of ripping them into planks seemed so frontiersman like.
One of the most notable features of wood especially in floors and tables are its circular rings that emanate from a center and radiate outwards. There is an entire science called dendrochronology that is dedicated to studying tree ring measurements.
Each ring represents one year of a tree’s life and can mea sure a mere fraction of a centimeter. Tree rings store information about the past such as an area’s climate, insect outbreaks, glacial activity, volcanic events, fires, floods, earthquakes, and more.
The oldest known tree in theworld, believed to be 4,700 years old, is a Bristlecone Pine in the White Mountains of California.Think about the history and evolution of species surrounding these trees’ lives. During their lifetime, religions formed, civilizations were built and destroyed, wars were fought, millions of people were killed,and millions of others like us were born. Trees can be considered the quintessential survivors!
Count the Rings
Do a quick count of the rings to estimate the age of the tree when it
died. A good way to do this is to count how many rings roughly fi t
between the tip of your index finger and the knuckle. Then turn your
hand sideways and count out how many index fingers it is to the center.
If it’s about seven, that means the tree is probably close to 100
years old. But don’t take my word for it; be precise and count each
Reading Past Climates through the Rings
Tree rings become very small during droughts and quite large during
years of ample rain, so scientists use them to reconstruct past climates.
Assuming the weather affected ancient tree ring growth the same way
it does today, scientists count rings from the middle of the trunk and
study their width to construct an approximate calendar of wet and dry
years. They also note the occurrence and frequency of fires by finding
scars that appear in the growth rings.
Check out your stump to see if you can tell which years were dry
and which ones had lots of rain. Does it match up with the information
from the National Weather Service?
Trees have been a silent witness to so much of Earth’s history. It is
amazing to think about trees that were mere sprouts in the time of the
Egyptians, some 4,000 years ago, and are still alive today. Being a
“Lord of the Tree Rings” can give you a good appreciation for time,
history, climate—and the wooden table you may be sitting at right now.