CLIMB FOR BEARS: SCOTT’S SUMMIT FOR SANCTUARY
Welcome to the Climb For Bears: Scott’s Summit for Sanctuary Team.
I will summit two of the most challenging peaks in the world, Gasherbrum I and II, to raise awareness and funds to save 310 endangered bears with Animals Asia.
In 2013 I stood at 7,200meters (23,622ft) on Broad Peak in Pakistan. I had prepared for 12 months, training 3-4 hours a day and was mentally and physically ready…at least that’s what I thought. The altitude is something you can’t train for; some days you feel like Superman, other days you’re Clark Kent…with a hangover. It was one of the most profound challenges, and achievements, of my life. It's hard to explain a climbing trip in words; even photos come short of really communicating the moment and the emotions being felt at the time.
I want to share this incredibly transformative experience and help make the world a little better for the environment and animals that urgently need our attention, and our help.
I am exceptionally proud and excited to be endorsed by Animals Asia to make this climb to save 310 bears in Vietnam and end bear bile farming forever. Ending bear bile farming is a momentous step for two species to survive - Asiatic black bears and Malayan Sun Bears. (Both are listed as “vulnerable to extinction” in IUCN’S Red List)
Animals Asia is devoted to ending bear bile farming (more on bear bile below for those who want to learn more!) and improving animal welfare across Asia. The organization promotes compassion and respect for all animals and works to bring about long-term change. Founded in 1998 by Jill Robinson, the Animals Asia team has been rescuing bears since 1994. As the only organization with a bear sanctuary in China, Animals Asia operates an impressive and incredibly well-built sanctuary, with full veterinary staff in China and Vietnam.
I have supported Animals Asia for over 10 years, have been to both facilities, and was lucky enough to meet Jill and witness first-hand the powerful and incredible work they are doing to make real change in this world to protect animals from exploitation, violence, and harm.
But, why would I head to Pakistan and attempt two x 8,000m peaks right now? The urgency. It’s the difference between 310 bears being saved or remaining in painful captivity.
Animals Asia is about to break ground on their second sanctuary in Vietnam, Bach Ma. Animals Asia and the Vietnamese government have come together to end bear bile farming in the country by, changing legislation and effectively closing the farms and saving the remaining bears. This was a campaign years in the making, but Animals Asia never relented.
BUT, there’s a problem. Animals Asia’s current sanctuary in Tam Dao is filled to capacity, and even with other facilities in the country, they are left with potentially 310 bears with no safe space.
With your help, we can create this space and protect the bears in Vietnam, ensuring their survival.
What Will Happen
I will climb two really, really big mountains, and take you along for the journey. You’ll meet my awesome climbing partner Joe Piestrak, see our basecamp and what life is like at 5,000m and higher.
My climbing obsession began in December 2007 one year after my wife bought me a climbing book for Christmas. One book turned into 20, and quickly I was hooked. After an ill-fated attempt on Mt Whitney in the wintertime with the wrong gear but the right attitude, I quickly realized this was a sport I could sink my teeth into. Climbing is a sport that has no trophies, no winners or losers, it’s just you and mother nature; away from "the known”, you have to make do with what you got and what you know. It’s every emotion in the spectrum, and it’s amazing.
Pakistan is home to five of the world’s tallest mountains and, in my opinion, the hardest one in the world: K2, the 2nd highest climb in the world at 8,611m. Pakistan is a beautiful country and the trip to basecamp is an adventure in itself. You land in Islamabad, jump in a bus and start off on the Karakorum highway. Think narrow dirt road on a cliff with the Indus River raging below. It’s a spicy 4 days that will keep you awake. You finally arrive in beautiful Skardu and wait for your climbing permit to be approved. This is your last taste of civilization for 60 days. Unlike Nepal, many of the large peaks in Pakistan are bunched together. On the trek to Gasherbrum I and II you will see the Great Trango Towers, Masherbrum, Mustagh Tower, Mitre peak as well K2 and Broad Peak. It’s a walk through mountaineering history.
Follow me on Instagram @scottpowrie01 for images, videos and loads of bloopers of our journey, and be part of it all.
What Your Donation Will Do
Contributing to our goal of USD16,000 means you will be part of helping create a 12-hectare sanctuary within the beautiful, mountainous surroundings of the Bach Ma National Park in central Vietnam. All money donated will go directly to Animals Asia who will use it to help create the new sanctuary which includes dens, outdoor enclosures and a bear hospital. Funds are also used to help with rescue costs, vet costs, food and stimulation for the bears.
What Will Happen If We Can't Raise These Funds
If we can’t help Animals Asia raise these funds and create the sanctuary, the government can’t implement a plan for large scale rescues and many bears will remain in painful captivity and dire circumstances without the veterinary care they desperately need.
We can change this, now. Please help by donating what you can.
Risks and Challenges
Remember the hungover Clark Kent vs Superman analogy? Well on any given day you can feel and perform like either. Altitude is your kryptonite.
Gasherbrum I, also known as Hidden Peak is the 11th highest mountain in the world at 8,080 meters and is extremely technical. Approximately 200 people have summited it, drastically less than Everest. Gasherbrum II at 8,035 meters is only slightly lower than its big brother. Pakistan in general is known for having very technical mountains for climbing. The weather is extremely unstable due to the height of these monsters. Basecamp is at 5,000 metres and life at this altitude is not comfortable. Sleeping is hard, your not hungry and your body is desperately trying to adjust to the conditions. It’s no surprise nothing lives at this altitude.
All that being said, there’s a chance we may not summit, due to illness, injury or the weather. Throw in a little unexpected altitude sickness and cravings for a vegan burger, and you have a recipe for some complications. But that's the allure, it’s really hard.
What I do know is that we have trained hard and long, we are experienced and prepared, and intend to give both peaks a 100% – a little like Animals Asia when they decide to save 310 bears.
What is Bear Bile?
Bile is a brownish-yellow liquid found in the gallbladder has been used in traditional medicine for nearly 2000 years. Research has found more than 50 herbal alternatives, plus there are many synthetic alternatives that have been on the market worldwide. The process to retrieve Bear Bile is excruciatingly painful for the bears and is done repeatedly.
More on Gasherbrum I and II
Joe and I will be attempting Gasherbrum I (8,080meters) and Gasherbrum II (8,035). Both are located next to one another. Our goal is to acclimatize on GII then look to GI. Acclimatizing is a process of going up to a high point then down, then up higher then down again. It normally takes a few weeks. It helps your body adjust to the high altitude. Once we reach our camp 3 on Gasherbrum II at around 7,000m’s we’ll descent to basecamp, rest for a few days, and prepare for our summit push.
Gasherbrum I, also known as G1, and Hidden Peak, is the world's 11th highest mountain at 8,080 metres (26,510 ft) above sea level. Gasherbrum I is a technically challenging mountain to climb, which only experienced mountaineers will attempt. Therefore, only approximately 200 successful ascents have been recorded on Gasherbrum I in total.
Gasherbrum II sitting at 8,035 metres above sea level, is just a bit lower than it’s big brother. Both mountains share a common camp 1, that requires crossing a broken glacier, that’s similar to what Everest climbers have to face. We’ll be trying the South West ridge and attempting this mountain first. Why? From camp 1 the route to the summit is more visible, making it better for route planning and acclimatizing.
It’s important to note that once we acclimatize on GII we don’t have to do it again on GI. We can’t ascend without going back down, stopping at our high camps to rest on the way to the summit.
More on my Supporters:
Founded in 1998, the Animals Asia team has been rescuing bears since 1994. We operate award winning bear rescue sanctuaries in China and Vietnam, and we are the only organisation with a bear sanctuary in China. Our founder and CEO, Jill Robinson MBE, Dr.med.vet. h.c., Hon LLD is widely recognised as the world’s leading authority on the cruel bear bile industry, having campaigned against it since 1993.
www.animalsasia.org / @animalsasia
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