Friday, April 24, 2009

Triangle Peak: 40 days post-sugery


Our nearly successful climb of Triangle Peak (acutally there is a hidden peak behind this one that is slightly higher). We got right up near the top, but were turned around by some huge hanging cornices above us that looked unsafe.

My friend Christie and I attempted to climb Triangle Peak just 40 days after I donated my kidney. I didn't think I'd get to play in the mountains this spring after the surgery, but my recovery was much faster and easier than I expected. That orthoscopic surgery is a piece of cake. I hear they used to go through the back/side and had to break ribs to get the kidney out - ouch!!!! I was super excited to get to play in the mountains.

Christie on day one during our ski approach to our base camp up the Castner Glacier.

Here I am on day one during the ski approach to camp.

At camp on day one, Christie scouts a route up the first steep section for the following morning.

We found a previously used camp that we just had to dig out a little in order to set up our tent.

We dug a few snow pits to check slope stability to assess the avalanche risk. We found the snow pack to be very stable which made us excited for the following day's climb.

We woke up early on day 2 and began the steep climb that Christie had scouted a route on the night before.

The sun came out and we had blue bird skies most of the day. It was sooo beautiful.


and up...

and up...

Tah Dah... we made it up the steepest sections of the climb!

A look back down at what we had climbed so far. Our camp was down near that glacier in the distance.

Now we are getting closer. You can barely see the peak sticking up off to the left side of the photo over the hill ahead of us.

Now we can see the peak better. The "sphynx-head" at the bottom of the knife ridge is where we dropped our skiis and put on crampons for the rest of the climb.

Christie dropping her skiis and putting on crampons for the climb up. You can't yet see the cornices that prevented our summiting.

Ahead is the world's largest cornice, though it looks small in this photo.

We got as far as the exposed rocks to the left of the giant cornice before we turned around. We were only a couple hundred feet below the summit at that point.
We tried skirting around to the left and then climbing up from there, but there was another ridge above with a huge cornice above that we didn't feel good about. Some weather was just starting to show up at that point too. Turned windy and some clouds came in. Visibility was getting worse. Even though we didn't reach the summit, we both had a great day of climbing.

We skiied out. Linking falls all the way down the mountian. Neither Christie or I are very good skiiers. Especially in mountaineering boots with a pack on. Many good wipeouts.

We skiied all the way down the mountain, packed up camp, skiied back to the car, and drove back to Fairbanks. A great 2 day trip!

The mountaineering boots i was wearing didn't fit quite right, so by the time we reached the car around 10 PM my feet were KILLING me. The ski out was horrible for me. With the heavy pack and two long days already in those boots, the last couple hours of skiing to the car were really painful. My feet were sooo happy to get those boots off when we reached the car. Other than the pain from the boots, it was an amazing trip and I was so happy to get into the mountains this spring. A big thanks to Christie for planning the trip and getting me out there.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

FAT Tuesday Kidney Party

Donating A Kidney

Dea and I immediately before going into surgery. We were calm and carefree because neither of us actually thought the surgery was going to really happen that day (previous day the cross match numbers weren't good enough). Then they came to get us... just before surgery the B-Cell reading was 293, just below the limit of 300! Doc said "Let's Go!"

For Mardi Gras this year I donated a kidney to my good friend Dea. She and her husband Ben are both amazing people. I'm really glad that I had the opportunity to help Dea. A transplant is a funny thing to ask someone to do for you, and Dea is definitely the type of person who would rather fix problems on her own and not have to ask for help. So, being in a position where she needed to ask for help was a difficult position for her to be in. All that said, I'm glad that I was able to help, and it's just been a positive thing in all ways. Really no negatives (except the post surgery constipation and bloating). I think we both had some discomfort immediately after the surgery, but it really only lasted for a few days to a week.

Dea has some good transplant blog posts on her blog too. She does a lot of cool stuff and is working towards her PhD in Atmospheric Sciences. My roomate Ed has a couple really nice (and famous) posts about Dea on his blog: Mad Props to Dea and Dialysis Doesn't Stop Dea. She is very inspirational to everyone who knows her.

Dea and Ben (and Pella) at the Castner Glacier a year ago.

Ben is a super great guy who would have given his kidney in a second if he were a match with Dea. It's really nice to see Dea and Ben together. They have a great relationship and really support eachother in everything. Ben has done a great job caring for Dea around the transplant and is always there for her. Ben is also a good photographer, check out his work at his website.

We had great family support during the transplant.

Overall the experience has been oddly festive. With so many friends and family members sort of "cheering" us on and wishing us the best. I have really enjoyed all the attention and the festive atmostphere this has created. It really has been a "Kidney Party" and it is fitting that the transplant took place on Fat Tuesday! Instead of music, beads, boobs, and booze, we had hospital gowns, IV drips, incisions, and pee.

A day after surgery, Dea and I go for a walk together

Yep. Dea is peeing for the first time in a few years. And peeing a LOT. The "Big hairy man kidney", as Ben calls it, is working very well. I guess it is a BIG kidney according to the docs... I have to say I'm not surprised.

I did shave an arrow in my chest to help the docs find the kidney - this was good for some laughs. Hee hee. Lots of friends were supporting Dea and I throughout this endeavour (thanks everyone!).

I have to say that probably the coolest part of the transplant is to see Dea's improvements. She underwent a tough surgery and is on strong dosages of drugs, so the recovery from the transplant is more difficult and will take a lot longer for her than for me. But, I have enjoyed hearing all of the small improvements that she experiences a little at a time. It's a really good feeling to have donated a kidney.

Dea, Ben, and I a week after the transplant hanging out

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Visiting My Nephew!

My nephew is only about 1 year and 3 months old now. In the last year, I've had a chance to go visit my bro and his family in Neenah (near Appleton)three times. It's so great to be able to see them so often. My little nephew is super fun and a bit neurotic (if that's the right term?). By neurotic, I mean that when he's awake he is crazy awake and when he's asleep, he's asleep. He's so interested in everything and has so much energy. Anyway, here's a few photos of my family and Jacob (my nephew) from over the past year.

Here's my folks (John and Jean) with Jacob when he was only a few weeks old.

Jean with Jacob

Dinner time!

Bath time! Don't be fooled by the innocent sweet look. He's about to destroy something!!!!!

Jean and Jacob

Heather, Jacob, and Jean

My folks, my brother, Jacob, and I

Josh, Heather, and Jacob

Me and Jacob


Sunday, November 9, 2008

Richard Simmons Zombie Aerobics Team - Halloween

I love my ultimate frizbee friends. Everyone is so positive and fun and up for anything. We've had some great tournament teams with tons of costumes. So, we all thought we'd do Halloween together too. At a party, a few of us hatched this idea: Richard Simmons leading a bunch of zombies in aerobics! Such a beautiful idea in so many ways, but most importantly, that we could take over the dance floor at the bar and get everyone to do some zombie aerobics with us. It was fantastic! Here is the group right after we got all decked out and were just about to leave for the first bar. Such a fun, creative group of people.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Chris Visits from Zambia - part 2 (part 1 still to come): Packrafting in the Brooks Range

My friend Chris has been living in Southern Africa for the last 8 years or so. He's currently living in Lusaka, Zambia working for a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) doing aide work. I've been over to visit him in Africa a few times, but he just made his first visit up to Alaska (about time you bastard). Chris and I, along with my roomate Ed, did a packrafting trip up in the Brooks Range in Northern Alaska. This was my first time to visit this part of the state and I was really impressed. The mountains are amazing and had a timeless sense about them. You could almost imagine dinosaurs wandering around, and Fred, Barney, and Dino too.

We couldn't hold back our enthusiasm to reach the arctic circle.

Or this big outcrop of rocks.

Or to be excited that my car made it up the road.

Or, to be excited about Chris's superpowers.

Or Ed's for that matter.

After our excitement qwelled for a moment, we began our hike away from the road. This is looking back towards where we parked our car.

The mountains are amazing of course, this photo shows a little scale.

We found a waterfall and were very excited once again.

The water poured out through a hole. Pretty amazing. Ed and I ducked under the water for a cold shower.

Ed brought his "bush buddy" stove with for boiling water. It's pretty cool. You just need a small pile of twigs and you can quickly boil water. It's very lightweight and convenient as long as you can find dry twigs.

Ed and Chris were very excited about the good weather.

We had to climb up high to get through the valley and were excited to get to the top.

Then we had to climb down.

And back up again.

Here is the rare... the elusive... the ferocious... Chrisabou!

We did have some river crossings to do.

Chris and I got very tired after 12 mile days, but Ed just kept on going. He makes the energizer bunny look like a fat kid with a mullet.

More hiking up and down and up and down.

Here some ice protruded up from just under the surface. It was a huge chunk of ice. I'm not sure what caused this to happen, but it shows what lies underneath the surface.

Here's Ed's new online profile pic. Ooooh.

We were excited to find a fantastic campsite up high with great views.

Then we were excited to swim in Elusive Lake the last morning of the trip.

We finally got to where we planned to inflate the rafts we had carried with us up and down and up and down through the mountains.


We were excited to get started with the rafting.

The river was pretty tame overall, but was pretty fast. It's the Ribdon River which flows down on the North side of the Brooks Range towards the Arctic Ocean. There were some fun little bumps along the way, but overall was a relaxing and beautiful float.

Our friend's Dea and Ben moved my car along the highway to near where our trip finished. It was only a short hike along the road to get back to the car to drive back to Fairbanks. Overall, a great trip, and of course it was great to have Chris visit and to see an area of the state that very few people see.