South Shore women summit African peak
December 2, 2013
South Lake Tahoe women Meghan Kelly and Jennifer Gurecki summited a Mount Kenya peak last month in a multifaceted excursion.
The women began their hike Nov. 6 in an attempt to spotlight climate change, empower women and raise funds for Zawadisha, a nonprofit organization founded by Gurecki.
Additionally, the trip served as the debut of Coalition Snow, a Stateline-based ski and snowboard company co-owned by Kelly and Gurecki.
After arriving back in South Shore on Nov. 13, the women said the "Summit for Our Sisters" expedition was a success, but it didn't come without its challenges. Heavy rainfall hindered hiking, and traveling became a mental obstacle.
"It's just really difficult to go days without seeing the sun and hiking soaking wet," Gurecki said.
Each climber carried a significant amount of equipment with her, from snowboards and skis to crampons and safety gear. Porters carried the food, but Kelly and Gurecki carried most of their supplies.
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The hike was more difficult than Kelly had expected, she said. It was her first trip up the mountain, and the weather didn't make it easy.
"I think the fact that it was for a good cause really pushed us on," Kelly said.
Gurecki, who had climbed Mount Kenya before, said she was thrilled when they arrived at checkpoints. Huts there served as shelter, and they were the only chance of escaping the rain.
"It was really nice to be dry," she said.
Their persistence paid off Nov. 8, when they summited Point Lenana, a 16,355-foot peak. The clouds parted and the sun came out just as they made it to the top, Gurecki said.
Kelly said she didn't want to leave.
"I definitely felt a sense of accomplishment," she said. "I wanted to spend as much time as possible up there."
The next day, the duo rode down Lewis Glacier by ski and snowboard. It was a special moment, Gurecki said, because so much of the glacier had already melted. In a few years, there may be nothing left.
Kelly and Gurecki returned to the base of the mountain Nov. 10.
Looking back, the women said they enjoyed their trip, but helping less-fortunate women was the highlight.
"It wasn't just the launch of a company," Gurecki said. "It had a deeper purpose."