This is a very special week in Hemophilia Adventure History! On Tuesday, Chris Bombardier, a 27-year-old Colorado man with severe factor IX deficiency, sets out to climb Aconcagua, a 22, 847 foot mountain located in northern Argentina, near the border of Chile. It is the highest mountain in the Americas, and is part of Chris’s unprecedented Seven Summits climb. Unprecedented because no one with hemophilia has bagged all seven summits—the highest mountains on each of seven continents.
Why is Chris doing this? How dangerous is it?
“Obviously I hope to summit,” the Denver native told me in a recent telephone interview. “I also hope to raise greater awareness of hemophilia globally. Most people in the States don’t even know about hemophilia; think about how little is known worldwide. I think having someone with hemophilia pushing the limits is a cool story in itself, but I hope it raises awareness of the discrepancy in treatment.”
Chris knows something about that. He sits on the board of my nonprofit, Save One Life, which is dedicated to assisting individuals in poverty with hemophilia in developing countries. He also has helped establish a blood testing lab in Eldoret, Kenya.
“Physically, I feel good, strong,” says Chris, an avid mountaineer and adventurer. Chris already has knocked off one summit: Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, when he climbed in April 2011, becoming the first American with hemophilia to summit it. He is using a long lasting factor in experimental studies currently, which, he says, is working well. He plans to infuse on the mountain as needed.
Chris will be climbing the Ameghino/Upper Guanacos route with a traverse and decent down the normal route. He’ll be climbing with two guides and eight other climbers. Chris’s climb is being funded by LA Kelley Communications.
“We start the climb on Tuesday, January 29th with a hopeful summit day around February 7th or 8th, says Chris. “I posted a thorough itinerary of the climb on my new website and blog.” Chris also hopes that he inspires people to donate to Save One Life; while his climbing costs are covered, every penny he raises goes to helping run Save One Life, which serves over 1,000 people with hemophilia who live on about $1 a day.
While in Argentina, Chris also hopes to meet the Hemophilia Foundation of Argentina, one of the world’s first hemophilia nonprofits and one of the best run. Carlos Safadi, a lawyer with hemophilia who sits on its board, also serves on the executive committee of the World Federation of Hemophilia. Carlos writes, “It will be my pleasure to welcome Chris to the Foundation.”
Check out www.adventuresofahemophiliac.com to read more about Chris and his momentous climb! And show your support by making a donation in any amount to Save One Life! www.saveonelife.net
Great Book I Just Read
Buried in the Sky: The Extraordinary Story of the Sherpa Climbers on K2's Deadliest Day [Kindle]
The worst accident in the history of climbing K2, the second highest mountain in the world but known as the most treacherous, happened on August 1, 2008, when 11 mountaineers from international expeditions died. What sets this true story apart from other mountain climbing stories is that it is told primarily from the sherpas’ point-of-view. The authors get inside the mind-sets of the sherpas who brought the many clients up the mountain that day; their lives from childhood are replayed, revealing their sterling character, and how most escaped dire poverty to become rock-stars of the climbing world. But the “goddess” of the mountain had other plans for the unlucky climbers: reaching the summit too late in the day, the return became a race against the dark, the cold when disaster struck. An avalanche buries the lead ropes, scattering the climbers, leaving some suspended upside-down all night long, others to walk over the edge, and still others to abandon their fellow climbers. It’s a tragic tale, masterfully told with great compassion and in-depth focus on each individual. Most fascinating to me were the many references to the Nepalese sherpas’ faith in the goddess of the mountain, and the Pakistani guides’ Islamic faith and how their faiths led them to assist the many climbers and other guides in trouble, putting their own lives at terrible risk. This story of heroism and yes, hubris, was a page-turner, and I finished it in two nights. Four/five stars.