Aug 2, 2015

The Mountain of Greatness # 3

The Mountain of Greatness – Installment # 3

Recently during a visit to Austin, I had the opportunity to talk to my friend, Jenell, about her upcoming trip to Tanzania where she will climb Mt. Kilimanjaro as part of a Rainer Mountaineering Expeditions group, RMI.  Yes, you read this correctly, Mt. Kilimanjaro in Africa.
 “Kili” as it’s known to many is a dominant volcanic mountain in Tanazania. It is the highest mountain in Africa and the highest freestanding mountain (not part of a mountain range) in the world at 19,342 feet above see level. The origin of the name Kilimanjaro is not precisely known, but a number of theories exist. My favorite from all that I read, the name translates in Sawhili language to The Mountain of Greatness.
Kilimanjaro Boots 


1_ Jenell, since the last update on June 19th, you’ve had an injury, what happened ?

I was participating in a stand-up paddle board (SUP) race in Galveston, Texas on July 18th. I have been competing in the inaugural Texas Paddle Race Series, which includes four SUP races across the state of Texas throughout the summer. SUP racing is my primary sport and I thought it would be great cross training for my Kilimanjaro hike.

Jenell on SUP board 

I did not however train properly for the race conditions that day. I’m experienced at flat water SUP racing and the conditions on the day of the race were new to me. Knee to waist high waves, rip tides, high winds and a running beach start into the surf.

At the start of the race I took a wave head on and fell off my board, the board flipped up and smashed into my right knee while twisting it. I tried to get back up but fell right back off in pain, I knew I was injured. I raised my paddle signaling I needed help and had to to be pulled out by the Oceanfest emergency response team.

After an X-ray and MRI, my orthopedic doctor determined that I tore my medial collateral ligament or MCL and meniscus. Fortunately, he doesn’t believe it’s so severe that I need surgical intervention right now. We agreed to try intensive physical therapy coupled with lighter training, while wrapping my knee and wearing a brace when I hike. 

So far, we believe I should be able to rehab enough to hike Kilimanjaro as planned. I rescheduled my training hike in Colorado to August 15-18 to allow time for recovery before testing my knee on a hike.

2_ What is your current status on recovery and training ?

I am already back to working with my personal trainer, Clark Arias from South Austin's Mighty Fit, but don’t start physical therapy until Monday, August 1st.

My PT will really be the determination of where I’m at and how far I have to go to rehab enough for the hike.

My trainer’s goal right now is to build up my left leg and my right quad and glute to compensate for the weakness in my right knee.


3_ What is your # 1 priority today regarding Kilimanjaro readiness ? 

Safely rehabing my knee so I don’t cause further damage and potentially have to cancel the entire trip.

4_ You have 27 days to go before your August 29th departure, does your daily routine change any as the dates gets closer ? How ?

My daily routine now has changed to exclude the remaining SUP race I had planned to participate in and to stop any SUP specific training. I am 100% focused on rehabbing my knee which has changed my workout entirely.

I’m also changing my diet to focus on healing nutrition (tons of fruit and veggies!) and not such a focus on protein and carbs to fuel the more aggressive training I was doing.

5_When is your trip to Colorado ? What will you be focused on during the climb at Pikes Peak ?

My Colorado trip will be August 15 - 18. We're still planning to hike Pikes Peak but based on my PT’s assessment of my knee and the progress I make in rehab, we may not be able to complete the Barr Trail as originally planned.

The Barr Trail is an elevation gain of 7,500ft from the base of Pikes Peak to the summit at 14,000ft. This is typically a 6-10 hour hike and is moderately technical. If my knee is not 100% at that time, we may hike a shorter less technical trail with a lighter pack. Most importantly the trip is still ON, it will allow us to spend time at elevation so we can acclimate and test ourselves and our gear in that environment.

6_ When you think of this incredible adventure and journey and challenge you’ve signed up for, what are your day to day thoughts and reflections? 

When I think of this incredible adventure and journey, my day to day thoughts have been super focused on preparation and planning. Recently  I watched a documentary called “K2 Siren of the Himalayas” and heard a quote in the movie that I recorded and later wrote down as a reminder to help change my focus.

I don’t want to be so focused on the destination, that I forget or ignore the lessons and experiences during the journey to get there…..which has already begun ;)

The quote:

“There are lessons to be learned from every trip, from every wall, from every rope length that you climb.

You are constantly changing how you do things, how you see things. You don’t really worry too much about summits, you want them, you chase them, but you really better enjoy the day in day out activity of being there.

You’re ever present in the moment, if it’s that one moment you’re chasing, you’re gonna forget about the millions of moments that come before. Do I want that one moment? Of course!

Success is fulfilling the dream, chasing it. Sometimes you dream too big, sometimes you don’t dream big enough, sometimes you dream just right.”

K2 - Siren of the Himalayas
Fabrizio Zangrilli - Professional Alpinist


Jenell will travel on August 29th from Austin, Texas to Tanzania in Africa via a layover in Amsterdam. There will be two more installments posted on VIP prior to her travel date.  Information will be provided on the Safari portion of her Tanzania adventure, and also all the details on how to get updates and keep track of the RMI Expedition group that Jenell will be a part of as the reach for the summit on Mount Kilimanjaro.