The morning Jenni, Sam & Isaac drove me to Gallatin Field in Bozeman was a cold brisk day by Montana standards. Yet 8-inch snowfalls, temperatures below freezing are part of life above the 45th parallel. The late winter / early spring is my favorite time of year in Bozeman. The skiing is filled in, the weak layers in the snow pack from December have healed themselves, when the sun is out one can rock climb and the garden is coaxing life out of each incremental increase in sunlight. The birds sing and the kids get out the bikes and long boards. Jenni and I find time to get out after breakfast for hike, be it around the block or to one of our favorite spots.
Yet to the airport I had to go. The three weeks I will be in Malaysia climbing on Kinabalu Peak, the highest point on the island of Borneo. At 4095 M it is pretty lofty. The proximity to the equator 5-degrees north means it will be humid, with a close to 12 hour split between night and day. Our team consists of Mark Synnott, our motivated leader, Kevin Thaw as nutritionist, Jimmy Chin as the bachelor, Renan Ozturk as artist in residence, Alex Honnold as our secret weapon for all things overhanging and myself as portaledge engineer. The North Face supports the journey, and our mission is to find granite crags, cliffs and walls to climb. The motto of The North Face is to “Never Stop Exploring”, which entails finding unclimbed vertical landscapes and climbing them. Be they frozen or covered with vines thick enough for Tarzan to swing off of we’ll get after it.
The motto for our climbing team is “Strength through Unity”, which is the national saying of Malaysia, our host country. So when in Kota Kinabalu do as the Kota Kinabaluans do … be strong by being unified. Malaysia is a country of 27 million people rich in a variety of resources from tin to rubber to palm products with a strong recreation industry. This is my first visit to this wild place. I’m looking forward to meeting lots of friendly people, experiencing flora & fauna that is very different from what I am familiar with and having an adventure of the first order.