Susan's Blog

The Third Kili Still Great

Climbing up to the summit again, on our third climb of Kilimanjaro, was delightful! (Highest mountain in Africa, 19,340’)

Susan Ershler on the Kilimanjaro expedition

The Highest Spot in Antarctica

Today on December 3, 1998, in a twelve hour day, we reached the summit of Vinson. The sun was so strong that with all the heavy breathing, I burned the inside of my mouth on the reflection from the ice. But who cared? We’d made it! We’d stood on the top of the bottom of the world! (Highest peak in Antarctica!)

Climbing to Camp 1 on Vinson

After our last night at Vinson Massif base camp in Antarctica, we headed up to Camp 1 to get closer to the summit. Even though it was bitter cold at times, loved this climb with our team!

Like Landing on the Moon

Once we landed on the ice at Vinson base camp in Antarctica, it was like landing on the moon. There was no vegetation, no color, no living creatures—nothing but ice as far as the eye could see. We set up our tents—bright spots of color in the all-white world. The next day, it was a beautiful sunny morning so we climbed and carried gear, food, etc. from base camp, delivered it to Camp 1 and then descended back down to base camp. It took us from 11:30 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. which led to a nice long sleep in the tents.

Written in the Ice

The first year Phil and I started dating, 1992, he took off to guide climbers up Vinson Massif in Antarctica in November. We missed each other on Thanksgiving that year; however he took this picture with my name carved into the snow when he landed at base camp. This so inspired me to climb Vinson Massif in the future!

The Seven Summits Dream Born in Antarctica

Today, a while ago, we left Seattle to climb Vinson Massif, 16,067 feet, the highest mountain in Antarctica! Just getting there was an adventure: flying first to Punta Arenas, Chile, the very tip of South America, and then, in a C130 cargo plane, 2,000 miles more to Patriot Hills, just 600 miles from the South Pole.

I’d seen pictures of the endless ice and the midnight daylight, and I was eager (if a little nervous) to see them for myself. But I was also excited because Vinson would be our fifth of the Seven Summits.

I had told Phil my hope of doing all seven, and he’d rolled his eyes the way he does when he thinks I’m chasing a pipe-dream, but after Aconcagua, I didn’t think it was that unreasonable. He, himself, admitted that I’d done fine at 22,841 feet, and that he believed I could climb higher.

Happy Anniversary Memories!

Our happy Anniversary today with great memories of the first year we met. We started dating in January 1992. Phil was guiding in Ecuador and when he arrived home he received a voicemail from me at my office. First date, Chandlers for dinner in Seattle, the night progressed positively enough to consider another date. In February, he guided in South America and I received a Valentine card from him, loved it. In March, we had our second date at Sun Valley to join our past friend, Frank Wells birthday, and snow skied. In April, we started water skiing together on Lake Washington. In May, he could not join my dinner with several girlfriends because he was guiding on Denali. August, we did our first climb together, summit of Mt. Rainier, my first climb ever. September, we climbed to the summit of Kilimanjaro in Africa together. In December, Phil was unable to join my dear friends at the holiday party where we met because he was stuck on the ice while guiding in Antarctica. End of December, we went to Snowbird ski resort, owned by our past dear friend Dick Bass, and snow skied. One of the best years of my life!

Pain is Temporary

Pain is temporary; the summit can make us extremely happy! Finally, we reached the summit of Mt. Elbrus together, 18,481′, highest mountain in Russia and the continent of Europe, achieving the second of our Seven Summits, in the summer of 1993.