Category Archives: Liver transplant

Last Chance to Sponsor me in Summit For Life

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The Summit for Life is a weekend celebration of donor awareness activities in Aspen, Colorado centered around a nighttime uphill race benefiting the Chris Klug Foundation. The 6th Annual Summit for Life event goes off this weekend, December 9th and 10th, and I couldn’t be more excited. Combine a rando rally with the chance to save lives through organ donation, and you have two of the most precious aspects of my life combined in one awesome event. As a racer and participant, I’m trying to raise $500. Help me raise funds by clicking on my fundraising page.

Founded in 2003 by liver transplant recipient and Olympic Medalist snowboarder Chris Klug, the Chris Klug Foundation is dedicated to promoting lifesaving donation and improving the quality of life for donors, donor families, organ transplant candidates and recipients.

It’s a great cause and a great opportunity to save lives while participating in an awesome event. Anyone interesting in racing or attending any of the other awesome weekend events, check out the Summit for Life website. High-five!

Here’s the video from last year’s event. Now that it’s getting closer, I’m hoping I can keep up at that altitude. Regardless is a great event for a great cause. Besides, today is my birthday. Instead of sending me a gift, which I know all of you were about to do, go to my fundraising page and support tissue donation. You rock.

Live for Today: Winter Speaker Series and Gallery Opening

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Join me December 1st along with skier and mountaineer Greg Hill and artist Jim Jickling on the Seattle Waterfront for two lively presentations and artist gallery opening at Blink. The winter theme of the evening is Live for Today, focusing on how to attain your goals, stay focused and be motivated. I am very excited about this event, and hope to see many of you there. Information Below:

Appetizers, beer & wine will be served. Please RSVP.

Agenda

  • 4:00pm Artist Reception: Canadian Painter, Jim Jickling
  • 5:30pm Kim Kircher Presentation & Book signing
  • 6:30pm Greg Hill Presentation

Presenter

Kim Kircher: Crystal Mountain, WA

Author of The Next Fifteen Minutes: Strength From the Top of the Mountain

Kim Kircher, photo by John Kircher
Photo credits: Chris Morin & John Kircher

THE NEXT FIFTEEN MINUTES (Behler Publications, October 2011) offers a rare glimpse into the strange and fascinating world of a ski area professional, where steep terrain and deep snow, the twin fuels that run the business, teach patrollers how to get through the worst trials just fifteen minutes at a time. Kim seized the EMT training that helped her avoid panic when a fallen skier had to be delicately lifted from a tree to manage the life-and-death situation facing her husband.

Ski patroller, author, traveler, Kim Kircher is still learning how to get through life in small increments. Sometimes just fifteen minutes at a time. She has logged over six hundred hours of explosives control, earning not only her avalanche blaster’s card, but also a heli-blaster endorsement, allowing her to fly over the slopes in a helicopter and drop bombs from the open cockpit, while uttering the fabulously thrilling words “bombs away” into the mic.  An EMT, she has received both a National Ski Patrol Purple Merit Star for saving a life as well as a Green Merit Star for saving a life in arduous conditions.

Before working in the ski industry, she received her BA and teaching certificate from the University of Washington, and taught high school English for five years. Her articles have appeared in Women’s Adventure, Couloir Magazine and Off-Piste Magazine, among others.  She is a current member of the Pacific Northwest Writer’s Association and the North American Ski Journalists Association.  Kim also writes about her job at Crystal Mountain Ski Area at www.blogcrystal.com.  Kim starred in a reality show about ski patrollers on the cable channel TRU-TV.

Her husband’s family owns and operates ten ski areas in the United States and Canada, including Crystal Mountain, where she has worked for twenty-one years. Kim’s book will be available for sale at the event by The Elliott Bay Book Company. Learn more at Kim’s site: www.KimKircher.com


Presenter

Greg Hill: Revelstoke, B.C. Canada

“2 Mill Hill”. Ski Touring & Mountaineer, Film maker

Greg Hill. Photo credit backcountry.com
Photo credits: T.Chandler, Backcountry.com, Brian Goldstone

With just two days left in 2010, Revelstoke-based ski mountaineer Greg Hill has completed his quest to climb and ski 2,000,000 vertical feet (609,600 metres) in a calendar year. Hill’s feat was the skiing equivalent of climbing Mount Everest every five days for an entire year. Or ascending the stairs of Toronto’s CN Tower four times per day, every day, for 365 consecutive days. It’s exhausting to even think about.

 

Greg Hill is a modern day explorer who skins his way into the unknown. He has skied in Alaska, New Zealand, Europe and all over North America but will mostly be found exploring his home range; the Columbia mountains. He lives in Revelstoke and has been pushing the backcountry boundaries ever since he moved there in 2000. With limitless mountains at his disposal Greg is always searching for a new line, or a new peak he has not skied before. In 2003 he traversed the Northern Monashees a 250km, 100,000 foot epic traverse. Energized by being the first to traverse this range, Greg managed to summit 21 peaks over the 21 days of the traverse. Over the years Greg has toured 20,30,40 and finally 50,000 feet in a day. Setting the standard for what can be done in the backcountry, and also earning him a world record in “most vertical climbed and skied in 24 hours.”

In 2004-05 Greg toured a million feet of backcountry skiing over the course of 145 days. In 2006-07 he toured 80 ten thousand foot days, totaling 990,000 feet for the season.
Since then Greg has changed his focus a bit and started to film and document his adventures, instead of selfishly shredding powder he is using his energy to film and capture the essence of what he and his friends get up to. He runs a blog on which he shares his adventures which can be followed on his website: greghill.ca.

In the summer of 2008 he compiled his best footage from the winter 2007-08 and created “The Unbearable Lightness of Skiing” which won best short movie in the New Zealand Mountain film festival and also made the Finals in the Banff International Mountain film festival and is also on their World Tour.

“So often the only stories we hear about backcountry skiing in the mainstream media are negative ones that deal with avalanches, rescues, and deaths. I think that by skiing two million vertical feet – much of it solo – I can show that with the proper knowledge and equipment, people can safely enjoy the mountains in the winter. I’m gratified that people from all over the world have posted comments on my blog and that even non-skiers are inspired by my goal setting and achievement.” – Greg Hill


Artist

Jim Jickling: Mill Bay, Canada

Acrylic, oil, watercolor and guache paintings will be on exhibit at the Blink Gallery until March 1, 2012.

Jickling Art

Over the past six decades, Canadian artist, Jim Jickling has produced an extraordinary body of work, most of which has focused on his Victoria and Mill Bay home, his favorite sports and European travels. Water color, acrylic and gouache are his most common mediums, mostly abstract expressionism in style with bold color.

Jim started his career as a teacher in a small rural school on Lasquiti Island in 1957. Soon after his marriage in 1959 he and his wife Mary moved to North Vancouver B.C.  to teach at a number of schools on the North Shore. In 1970, the new family of 5 moved to Victoria where Jim accepted a position in the faculty of education at the University of Victoria. For 11 years until his retirement in 1988, Jim taught high school art and coached rugby at Cowichan Secondary School. Since his retirement, he has continued to paint at his Mill Bay home on Vancouver Island.

Jim received a BEd from the University of British Columbia in 1963 and an MFA from the Istituto de Allende, Mexico in 1965. Jim has exhibited in Seattle, Victoria, Winnipeg, Vancouver and Whistler. Jim’s paintings have been chosen for the art leasing program in the Gallery of Greater Victoria and the Vancouver Art Gallery. His paintings are held in many private collections.


Event Details

Space is limited, RSVP early

The event is open to the public and free of charge, however a donation at the event is encouraged to help cover food and drink costs. Thank you.

Please click the green button and RSVP at our Eventbrite page. Guests are welcome, please list each name on the RSVP page.

RSVP Now

Location: Blink, Waterfront Building. 1011 Western Ave. Suite 810, Seattle, WA 98104

What Avalanches Can Tell Me About My Own Weakness

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How I Try to Pretend

Five Foot Crown in Bear Pits, March 2011

Weak layers in the snowpack are like fragile layers in our psyche. We can cover over them with slabs of bravado, carefully sintered together and work-hardened. We can pretend they don’t exist, or that subsequent snow has masked the flaw. As a diabetic and a rescuer, I prefer to bridge over my tendency towards low blood sugar reactions and pretend I’m in control.

Just like in the snowpack, weakness lingers. In fact, given the right conditions, cold temperatures and a shallow snowpack, those frailties grow even weaker. Sometimes ignoring those unsightly parts of myself makes them scarier foes, and yet I can’t resist. Who wants to stare her own ugliness down? When I have a low blood sugar reaction I hate to ask for help. It’s a weakness I try to bury. And yet its a ridiculous strategy.

A Ridiculous Strategy

Anna D. tossing a shot onto the slope, Southback Crystal Mt.

This morning I woke at 4 am. Hot sweat pooled in my clavicle and I threw off the sheets. “I’m having a low blood sugar,” I told John as I careened down the hallway toward the kitchen. I stood there naked and sweating and tried to prick my finger and smear the drop of red blood onto the tiny strip. When my brain is starving, it seems to shut off the less important functions like eyesight. I stared at my glucometer and tried to see the number blinking on the screen. It was either 64 or 34, either way a low blood sugar. I lifted my hair off my shoulders and let the sweat cool my skin.

John handed me a glass of orange juice and told me to drink. It was sweet and delicious. Diabetics can’t normally drink juice; it contains far too much sugar. I miss drinking orange juice. I wondered for a moment if drinking juice made the threat of a seizure worth it. I ran my tongue along the slick above my lip, leaned over the counter and rested my face in my hands. I was very tired and starting to get cold.

John helped me back to bed, where I buried myself in the damp sheets. My blood sugar was returning to normal and I shivered. John kept waking up thinking my shaking was the start of a seizure. I told him not to worry; I’d be fine.

Buried Facets

What used to be a forest now lays on the ground just uphill from my house

Just a few feet from my window, century-old trees lay in a jumbled mess. Last season a huge avalanche slid nearly from the top of the mountain and stopped within feet of our apartment. The aftermath of that slide was humbling. Trees and rocks were uprooted, or snapped in half and sent a mile down the slope, to rest just uphill from where I now lay shivering and clutching the sheets against my weakness.

While pretty on the surface, once buried facetted crystal become a dangerous weak layer

When the slide let loose, having been triggered by explosives thrown from a helicopter, the slab failed on an old weak layer. Months before, a rain event followed by cold temperatures had left faceted crystals that later were buried by late-season snow. When the stress of the new snow overcame the strength of the snowpack, huge slides let loose all over the mountain, running on that layer of beautiful, diamond-like crystals that wouldn’t bond.

I couldn’t control my shivering. The wet sheets provided little warmth, and the clock blinked 4:35 am. Between the tree tops outside the window the sky grew lighter. These very trees acted as the last defense against the tons of snow and debris that had nearly buried the bed I now lay in and the window I looked through. Faceted crystals will not bond to anything, will not ask for help from nearby slabs. Buried surface hoar harbors air pockets that create a growing weakness, nibbling away at its surroundings until a layer of crystalline dominoes is poised and ready to fail. The symmetry was almost too much to bear.

With a Little Help From Our Friends

When I look over the past few years of our lives, so many things had to go right. John lived through an impossible diagnosis. The cancer didn’t spread. He got the transplant. We weren’t in our apartment when the avalanche came down. We didn’t get buried.

During a recent interview a radio personality asked me what I’d learned since writing my book. I answered quickly. I knew this one.

My happy place: skiing powder with my husband

I have learned to be grateful. If we didn’t have buried weakness, gratitude wouldn’t come quite as easily. If John hadn’t nearly died we wouldn’t be living so large right now. If I didn’t have diabetes, I might forget to be humble in the face of risk, both on and off the mountain.

Weakness reminds us of our humanity. If we were perfect we wouldn’t need each other. John’s ordeal sintered our marriage, bonding the very crystals of our being together into a cohesive slab.

I looked at the clock again, it was almost 5 am, time to wake up and check the weather forecast. John and I looked at it together this morning, mapping the timing of the storms lining up in the Pacific, strategizing about how to get the mountain open.

If the forecast pans out, we could be open by early next week. Our lives are about to shift again–this time towards the yearly start to our ski season. I look forward to skiing again, feeling gratitude and joy and weakness.

NWCN Television Interview

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If you missed my interview yesterday on Northwest Cable News, here it is. In addition to talking about my book, I also reminded skiers and snowboarders how to ski safely this winter. The old maxim, “No friends on a powder day,” might need to change. In deep snow conditions, your friends could save your life. Just saying. Click on the video below to play. And notice that under my name it reads “Crisis Expert”. Who knew??

Summit For Life: Raising funds for tissue and organ donation

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The Summit for Life is a weekend celebration of donor awareness activities in Aspen, Colorado centered around a nighttime uphill race benefiting the Chris Klug Foundation. The 6th Annual Summit for Life event goes off in Aspen December 9th and 10th, and I couldn’t be more excited. Combine a rando rally with the chance to save lives through organ donation, and you have two of the most precious aspects of my life combined in one awesome event. As a racer and participant, I’m trying to raise $500. Help me raise funds by clicking on my fundraising page.

Founded in 2003 by liver transplant recipient and Olympic Medalist snowboarder Chris Klug, the Chris Klug Foundation is dedicated to promoting lifesaving donation and improving the quality of life for donors, donor families, organ transplant candidates and recipients.

It’s a great cause and a great opportunity to save lives while participating in an awesome event. Anyone interesting in racing or attending any of the other awesome weekend events, check out the Summit for Life website. High-five!

Here’s the video from last year’s event. Doesn’t this look cool? I can’t wait.

Book Launch Day

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Today is the day.

The Next 15 Minutes is now IN STOCK and available for purchase. I think I’ll go over to my local bookseller (or two or three) and just gaze at it on the shelf.

In case you’re still on the fence, and aren’t sure if you want to buy the book, have I mentioned that Ingrid Backstrom wrote the foreward? Or that the book opens with a scene of me throwing explosives out of a helicopter.

Just saying.

Here’s what others have said about it:

“When I read memoirs or listen to a speaker, I want to learn and I want to be inspired.  Kim and John’s story does both.  Everyone has a story to tell and Kim tells their’s well.  Kim and John’s lives will inspire all readers and allow us to pull lessons learned from their lives and struggles.  We as reader gains strength and hope through the sharing of their story.” Phil Ershler, AMGA Certifitied Alpine Guide and author of Together on Top of the World

“Kim’s positivity and grace under pressure is incredibly inspirational.  Her story is a joy to read, and it reminds all of us to get outside with the ones you love.” Ingrid Backstrom, Professional Skier

“As a transplant surgeon, I witness the immense physical and psychological challenges facing patients with a life-threatening illness. Ms. Kircher weaves her experience as a ski patroller high in the Cascade Mountains with the current battle against her husband’s liver disease with intense emotion and heart-wrenching detail. As she draws on her prior high-adrenaline experiences to face the current challenge of her husband’s illness and pending transplant, it leaves the reader feeling breathless, as if they are standing on the edge of the mountain with both husband and wife…This book is a fascinating memoir for any reader, and especially one who may be in the midst of or recovered from their own major adversity.” Julie Heimbach, Transplant Surgeon, Mayo Clinic

The Next Fifteen Minutes is a profoundly courageous and honest exploration of Kim and John Kircher’s journey together during John’s nearly fatal battle with liver cancer.  Their lives together in the mountains they love so much are the backdrop, and the lessons Kim has learned as a professional ski patroller give her the strength to make it through a harrowing year.” Dan Nordstrom, President and Owner of Outdoor Research

“In the year leading up to her husband’s liver transplant, Kim Kircher triumphs over the long wait and harrowing diagnosis by drawing lessons from her life in the mountains. As a ski patroller, she witnesses tragedy and triumph, dark storms and sparkling beauty, and learns how to fight for her husband’s life, offering him the support and partnership necessary to weather the storm.” Chris Klug, professional snowboarder, Olympic medalist, liver transplant recipient, author of To the Edge and Back: My Story from Organ Transplant Survivor to Olympic Snowboarder

So get out there and buy the book already.

On a Book Tour: Kind of like being a rockstar but not really

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Maybe I should stick to writing books

I’m officially “on tour”. My memoir is now available on Kindle and in paperback soon. I’m taking the world by storm over here. At least in my own mind. And isn’t that really what matters? Here’s a little list of articles, blog posts, interviews and book events out now and upcoming. Oh the glamour.

Television

Monday, October 3rd, 2011 9am. KCPQ-13 Fox News This Show with Lily Jang and Mark Wright.

Articles and Blogs

September 15th, 2011 Mountain Online Magazine Book Review From “Bombs Away” to Words on a Page.

September 25th, 2011  Tacoma News Tribune interview with Craig Hill.

September 27th, 2011 How to Handle a Partner’s Extreme Illness guestpost at ModernMom.com.

September 29th, 2011 Doing It All guest post at ModernMom.com.

October 1st, 2011 Book review on High On Adventure Online.

October 3rd, 2011 Book review at ModernMom.com, Guest post at Not Just the Kitchen online.

October 4th, 2011 Guest Post at ModernMom.com on Crisis Management Tips for an Avalanche Expert

October 6th Guest post at ModernMom.com on Why Women Excel at Dangerous Jobs

October 7th Review at Mountain Rider’s Alliance blog.

Radio/Podcasts

August 27th, 2011. Bottom Line on Your Health Radio Show with Sarah Hiner. I spoke in as an expert on surviving an emergency situation (in this case Hurricane Irene).

Wednesday September 27th, 2011 6:15pm. (Yes, that’s TONIGHT). Radio Interview with Lizz Sommars on The Mountain 103.7 fm. Airs Sunday October 9th, 2011.

Thursday September 28th, 2011. 6:30am. Live interview on VOICE AMERICA TALK RADIO on the Kathryn Zox Show.

Friday October 7th, 2011. 9am Radio Interview on Morning Show KONA-AM with Dennis Shannon, Voice of the Tri-Cities.

Tuesday October 4th, 2011. 5:20 am (eek that’s early!). Radio Interview with XM Broadminded Radio.

Tuesday October 4th, 2011 8:20 am (I’ll be on a roll!). Radio Interview with Mel Robbins.

Wednesday October 5th, 2011 1pm. “Inspirational Women” Radio Interview with Kate Daniels on Warm 106.9.

Saturday October 22nd, 2011. Interview on The Jordan Rich Show on WBZ-AM.

Radio interview with Bill Kenower at Author Magazine. Hard date to come.

Events

WORDS AT THE WOODMARK. Kirkland, WA Wednesday, October 18th. Join me at the Woodmark Hotel for an evening of fun, wine, food and, of course, my book. The price of admission gets you in and includes everything, even the book.

SUMMIT FOR LIFE. Aspen, CO December 9-10, 2011. This charity event held in Aspen every year celebrates organ and tissue donation benefiting the Chris Klug Foundation. I will be there to raise money and awareness for this very great cause as well as signing books.

BOOK SIGNING AND AUTHOR EVENT Crystal Mountain, WA. Saturday, December 17th, 2011. I will be signing books at Crystal and hope to see many of you there. More information to come.

I’ll be adding more to this list. My publicist has been busy. Anyone interested in hosting me or would like me to guest post please contact me (see email Kim tab above). I’m also scheduling book club meetings, because after all, meeting with readers and talking about my book is about as good as it gets.