I’ve never met anyone in my life–and I have met some pretty amazing people in my several careers–who dreamed a dream, set the course, followed through against all odds, and made it happen in the way that Chris Bombardier has. If you met him, and I hope you do, you would be thunderstruck that this shy, extremely humble young man will soon conquer the Seven Summits.
And not just achieving an incredible goal that only about 450 people in the history of the world have ever done. No one has ever done this who has a bleeding disorder. No one might ever repeat this in my lifetime. We are witnessing history in the making! In hemophilia terms, this ranks right up there with landing a man on the moon.
Chris leaves tomorrow, Christmas Day, for the last adventure on this journey that has consumed the last few years of his young life. I interviewed him last week, before the holidays. How did he feel?
“I’m looking forward to my last summit bid—Mt. Vinson. I’m leaving my wife and family on Christmas Day to basically a frozen desert. On December 29, I’ll leave from Chile to fly to the Antarctica continent. I’ll land on Union Glacier, and from there we will get a flight to the mountain base camp, but everything depends on the weather. Base camp is a few miles from the base of Vinson. We’ll stay at camp, sort out our gear, then start the hike.”
I actually traveled with Chris last March when we trekked to Everest base camp, which took 9 days. It was freezing by the time we got to base camp. I stayed three days but Chris had to stay about a month to acclimate, as Everest is 29,000 feet. How long will it take to summit Vinson, which is 16,050 feet?
“It should take us about seven days total. Our challenges this time isn’t the lack of oxygen, like on Everest, but the weather and temperatures. Temperatures can be all over the place, but pretty much it will be below zero all of the time. The wind is the worst here. The wind brings the temperature down, and you can easily get frostbitten.”
With Chris will be his trustworthy guide Ryan Waters, founder and president of Mountain Professionals of Colorado. Ryan’s guided Chris on 5 of the Seven Summits. This one will make it 6! This trip, like the Everest one, is being fully sponsored by Octapharma, which manufactures blood-clotting products like Nuwiq® and wilate®.
What’s even more impressive is that Chris has undertaken these climbs not to make history or for personal glory. He knows that it will gather world-wide attention, but not for himself, but to highlight the inequity in treatment for those with hemophilia in developing countries. He worked in Kenya, before he started his climbs, helping to establish a lab in Eldoret, and what he saw convinced him he had to draw attention to how much people with bleeding disorders suffer. Chris and I met in 2011 at a NACCHO conference; after I gave my talk about our work in developing countries helping people with bleeding disorders, Chris told me he wanted to do the Seven Summits–just a wild dream he had to help bring attention to this problem. A lover of mountains myself, and avid reader of those who undergo extreme hardship while exploring (David Livingston, I presume?) and achieving (Mallory, because he’s there), and reading everything I could get my hands on related to summiting anything, I told Chris go for it, and I will help in every way humanly possible. He did all the training and work, and I’ve been cheering him on! And Chris joined our board of directors at Save One Life.
Chris wants to dedicate this climb to raising money for our scholarship program. He writes,
“With your support, I know I can make this climb successful!
“No longer can anyone say that someone with hemophilia can’t climb Everest, Vinson or reach any dream, as long as they have with proper treatment, training and medical care. By standing on these Seven Summits, I hope to show what is possible. I hope by holding the Save One Life banner on each summit we can show the world that only 25% of people living with hemophilia even have access to adequate treatment to chase dreams. Let’s help everyone aim for their dreams by helping to raise $16,050—the height of Vinson— for our scholarships!”
Chris is doing the hard part; let’s help him achieve this last mountain and goal by raising $16,050! If he can climb Vinson, then we can raise the money!
Our thanks to Octapharma for sponsoring this incredible, history-making adventure!