Donation to Keck USC, Antarctica, and Future Plans for Climb Above Parkinsons

I know some out in the world are only able to track my progress through these blogs, and I suffer from social media laziness, where its easier to simply post a picture to Instagram with a caption and link that to Facebook and Twitter. So, my posts here are less frequent, but generally more detailed.

On Thursday August 1, 2019, Climb Above Parkinsons made a $10,000.00 donation to Keck School of Medicine- Neurology. This donation was directly attributable to the donations that have been made in support of Climb Above Parkinsons. The money will be used by Dr. Giselle Petzinger and Dr. Mike Jacowek in support of their team’s efforts to understand and someday work around Parkinsons Disease and other neurogenetic disorders. Their research focuses on complex physical activities and how those work to help the brain build pathways around areas impacted by Parkinsons. I thoroughly enjoy spending time with them, and always feel so much more intellectually enriched as a result. The last donation of $7,500.00 made to Keck was used by the team to secure a much larger research grant. My understanding is the team uses our donation, and others from other donors, to show the potential promise of a new undertaking. This is then submitted to the US Government, and other large organizations, in a bid to secure a grant for research. In this way, the relatively small amounts of money that are donated from Climb Above Parkinsons have a significant impact on the program and research.

I am scheduled to leave for Antarctica on November 28, 2019, to climb Vinson Massif Peak, the final peak of the 7 Summits. I am going with guide Kurt Wedburg of Sierra Mountaineering International. Kurt has been my mentor through the 7 Summits process, giving me advice and connecting me to local vendors throughout the world. In exchange for his benefiting me, I promised 2 years ago to use his company for the trek to Antarctica. One cannot ascend the summit of Antarctica, at least in a timely manner, without assistance from a guiding service. There is simply no easy way to get onto the continent and navigate it, unless you have large amounts of time to spend trekking across the barren ice continent, and provisioning it as you move. Likely a 6 month outing at a minimum if you do it that way. So, there are a handful of companies that make the arrangements and take care of the logistics, and Sierra Mountaineering International is one of them. We expect a 3 week journey, door to door from Los Angeles, though it can be shorter or longer, primarily depending on weather conditions.

I intend to self fund this last endeavor. The tab for SMI is $45,000.00, and there will also be a cost to fly to Puenta Arenas, South America, and lodge there for a few days. Also, the necessity of a gratuity for Kurt and his involvement. It will not be an inexpensive outing, but to me, in the long run, completing the 7 Summits is worthwhile of the cost.

Assuming I summit the 16,000 foot mountain, I will have completed the goal in slightly over 2 years. The 7 Summits have only been climbed by approximately 1000 people, and most take several years to complete the goal. I have been very lucky to have made the summit of each mountain on the first attempt, and did so on a shoestring budget, often completely self guided or 100% solo on the trip. I desired to tackle a significantly difficult objective to overcome the personal challenges that gave birth to the idea, and I have so far succeeded in my stated goal.

In this regard, it has been incredibly draining on me, physically, mentally, and spiritually. I have planned for a mountain, trained for it, traveled to it, summited it, returned, and started the entire process over again, for the last 20 months as of this post. I have also maintained full time employment and grown this fledgling non-profit. Needless to say, I am very exhausted from the effort, and when it is over, I look forward to only local, technical rock climbs, and will save my energy for warm beaches in the central latitudes. I will run a final campaign for this mountain, but 100% of donations received will go directly to Keck USC. The goal will be $20,000.00.

With respect to Climb Above Parkinsons, and its future, the CAP Board of Directors will identify a set of criteria for future climbers interested in achieving adventurous, very challenging experiences. This would also include persons desiring to attempt very difficult agendas like crossing of seas in kayaks, or biking lengthy distances. We will have interested persons submit their applications, and thereafter identify a recipient. Once that has been done, Climb Above Parkinsons will conduct fundraisers in the local community, and the proceeds will go directly to Keck USC. I will personally commit up to $5,000.00 to the organization, and that money will be earmarked to go to the selected climber or adventurer. The CAP website will be re-structured to include only a tab for the 7 Summits, to make way for each new adventurer and their respective goal. I am very excited to see who might become the next selected adventurer.

In the meantime, I hope to complete a book on the 7 Summits, after Vinson Massif. It will be written in a similar fashion as the book I am currently reading about Sir Edmond Hillary, and his summary of how he became the first person in the world to climb Mount Everest. I hope it to be inspiring, and will share many of the challenges I have overcome in my lifetime, and relate how using harder challenges to overcome existing challenges only strengthens character. This was the mantra of US President Theodore Roosevelt, one of my heroes. I will also be working on speaker series’ for Climb Above Parkinsons, to support it, and to help draw awareness to the disease and the efforts to address it.

Keep on rocking in the free world.

Anthony McClaren