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Orange County Register, The (Santa Ana, CA)
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Story appeared in Sports section
on page Venture
ID: 72619658
Edition: 1
Climber looking for more conquests

January 18, 2005

And for his next trick, skydiving at the North Pole.

James Clarke, the Costa Mesa climber who turned 41 at the South Pole last month, has been back from Antarctica for a few weeks now, having achieved mountaineering's greatest feat -- climbing the Seven Summits.

Even as he closed in on this accomplishment, completed just before Christmas with the summit of Vinson Massif, friends would repeatedly ask, "What next?"

He deliberately put off answering the question until his Seven Summits goal was reached. It took him seven years, but now Clarke can start contemplating what's next.

"I want to definitely keep a physical challenge as a component of my life," he said. "I want to maintain that absolutely.

"I've really come to appreciate having a challenge in the physical or natural world. So I want to find another one."

A skydiver, Clarke is looking into the potential of taking his hobby to the North Pole.

He probably has finished with the high-elevation climbing, though if an expedition to K2 came up, he would consider it. K2 is the second-tallest mountain at 28,251 feet and a tougher climb than Mount Everest.

Otherwise, Clarke plans to shift to more technical climbing. For now, he said he is "not in any hurry to run off on a long journey."

In climbing the 16,027-foot Vinson Massif, Clarke encountered brutal conditions.

"It was very cloudy, near whiteout," he wrote in his post-climb dispatch. "We couldn't see more than 50 yards. The winds subsided somewhat and it became rather quiet, almost surreal. I remembered one by one the summits of the other continents."

After 15 minutes, his expedition started down.

Clarke said it was "not that big a deal" that they didn't have a great view. The climb wasn't about the scenery but the achievement.

"I feel so thankful," he said. "So many people have given me wishes of good will. It's been something I did for myself, but I was still able to share with others. You can't ask for anything other than that."

A cry for help: Christian Rodriguez, who has donated many hours helping on 976-Tuna Youth Fishing Program charters, needs help.

More than a month ago, Rodriguez underwent surgery in his native Costa Rica to remove a brain tumor.

He can't work, so there is no income for his wife and 3-year-old daughter, or funds to pay for treatment.

A dinner/silent auction/ raffle to benefit The Christian Rodriguez Fund is Feb. 12 at 6 p.m. at the Knights of Columbus Hall in Redondo Beach. Adults are $25, kids under 12 $15. A $2,000 cruise for two is the grand prize. Call (310) 328-8426 for reservations. Donations can be sent to The Christian Rodriguez Fund at P.O. Box 2825, Torrance, CA 90509.

Mountain roads reopen: Highways 330 and 18 through Running Springs to Big Bear Lake reopened Sunday.

They had been closed because of weather-related mudslides and road damage.

(714) 796-7809 or

(714) 796-7809


Copyright 2004 The Orange County Register
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