Lake Tahoe locals to conquer Mount Kenya for a cause

Griffin Rogers
Jennifer Gurecki climbs Mount Shasta with crampons and an ice axe to prepare herself for a Mount Kenya expedition in November.
Courtesy Meghan Kelly |

Two Lake Tahoe women will attempt to summit and ski Africa’s Mount Kenya in November to empower women, make a statement about climate change and raise funds for a nonprofit organization.

The “Summit for Our Sisters” expedition will also serve as the debut of Coalition Snow, a new ski and snowboard company based in Stateline, Nev. The company will be run by women, for women and will feature specially designed snow equipment.

During the trip, Meghan Kelly and Jennifer Gurecki will trek across glaciers on the continent’s second highest mountain before the ice melts away from climate changes, Kelly said.

Studies of Mount Kenya’s Lewis Glacier have shown that higher temperatures — as opposed to sun exposure — resulted in a 90 percent decrease in ice volume from 1934 to 2010, according to the United Nations Environment Programme.

“We could be telling our kids about this or future generations when it may not even be big enough to ski anymore,” Kelly said of the expedition.

The trip will also serve as an opportunity to enable women and raise money for Zawadisha, a Truckee-based nonprofit organization founded by Gurecki. In turn, Zawadisha will use the funds for microloans, which help women in Kenya operate small businesses.

“The cool thing about this trip is it has a lot of different aspects,” Kelly said.

Gurecki and Kelly, co-founders of Coalition Snow, left for Kenya earlier this week and will begin their excursion Nov. 2. After summiting the 16,355-foot mountain, they plan on skiing their way back down, she said. The entire expedition will take seven to 10 days to complete.

Both women have been passionate about snowsports since moving to the Sierra Nevada nearly a decade ago, according to a press release. They’ve been training for the trek to Kenya by climbing Mount Shasta with crampons and ice axes and then skiing their way down.

Combined with a “humble attitude” and years of outdoor experience, the two are ready to climb, Kelly said.

“I think all of those types of experiences will prepare me for whatever Mount Kenya throws at us,” she said.

Gurecki summited Mount Kenya two years ago and said the route should be relatively straightforward. However, it will also be physically demanding.

“We are anticipating a huge ice sheet rather than buttery snow,” she said in an email. “We are mentally prepared for a chattery ride down.”

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