Archive for the Willy Category


Posted in Willy on June 8, 2011 by charakusa 2011

Things happen fast.  After days of waiting in visa-limbo, I was suddenly rushing around Oxford with a typical last-minute checklist in my pocket: toothpaste, sunscreen, pencils, coffee, etc.  I find that these are the sorts of items I am always buying in the days or hours before an expedition, and there are other familiar rhythms, too: writing to loved ones; last minute phone calls; hectic emails trying to square things up with Omprakash.  Many of my preparations for this trip have been specifically related to my ongoing doctoral research about girls’ education in rural Pakistan: I’ve been calling research collaborators and school principals, printing off the questionnaires I developed during my last research trip in March/April, and trying to filter my ever-expanding  reading list for articles that are pointed towards the geographical and theoretical particularities that feel most relevant at this stage of my thesis.  Meanwhile, other aspects of last-minute preparations felt more like a classic mountain expedition. How many pairs of socks?  Gloves?  Fresh batteries in my headlamp?  Do they sell the type of fuel we need for our stoves?  Who is bringing the first aid kit?  Are we really bringing Viagra?  (Yes.)  Do I want this old puffy jacket even though all of the feathers are falling out?  (Yes.)  Then there is the packing itself — that familiar laying out of gear, the careful stuffing into the monster backpack, the final hefting onto knee and then onto shoulders.

What is most familiar in all of this, for better or worse, are those final embraces with loved ones– the bittersweet leavings, the small gifts we exchange, the music played outdoors, the clinking of glasses.  At the pub the night before I left, one friend literally gave me the shirt off of his back!  There is such tenderness in departing, and I am grateful to love so much and so many that it is always hard to leave, no matter where I’m going.

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Gratitude and Excitement

Posted in Willy on May 26, 2011 by charakusa 2011

Many thanks to Nico for providing this photo from the 2007 Belgian expedition!

As our departure dates approach and we scramble with logistical questions about visas, permits, and what kind of harmonicas to bring, we want to take a moment to express our gratitude to the many individuals, organizations, and corporations that have already provided huge support to our expedition.  The American Alpine Club has provided us with two generous grants — the Lyman Spitzer Cutting Edge Award and the Mountain Fellowship Grant — and we have received generous gear sponsorships from Rab and Patagonia.  The National Outdoor Leadership School has provided us support from the Instructor Development Fund, and we’ve also received a generous corporate sponsorship from Chicago Steel.  On top of all of this, we feel the support of many friends and well-wishers from within and beyond the climbing community– people who have provided us with photos, ideas, and lots of positive energy.  Many thanks to all!