January 2, 2015

Happy New Year!

Happy new year! Here's a few of our favourite moments from 2014, thank you again for all the support over the past year, we very much look forward to all that the next 12 months will bring.

January - Baunwald Switzerland TOPtoTOP Climate Award Expedition




March - Cycling to Denali




April - Sea to TOP - Denali




May - Summiting Denali


June - July - August - Alaska





September - San Francisco and Arc'teryx Vancouver

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October - Cycling, Yosemite




November - Mount Whitney - Badwater Basin


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We are currently still in Joshua Tree CA, but will be leaving to head south west towards San Diego this week.

Please do get in touch if you are in the area and would like us to visit to give a talk at your school, work place etc. dario@toptotop.org, or jenny@toptotop.org

Posted by dario at 1:46 AM

January 10, 2015

Xmas and Joshua Tree to San Diego



more pics here!

by Stephan and Ron:
«Due to the Californian drought, this cafe will no longer serve water unless requested»
Is this one of the positive examples, the Top to Top Climate Expedition is looking for? Yes and no: Of course, the statement in a cafe in Joshua tree will attract people's attention. Nevertheless we might call it "Pflaeschterli Politik" (politics by band aides) in Swiss-German. Sabine and Dario are searching for real solutions. In Borrego Springs, a town a few miles further down but still in the Californian desert, 70% of the water is used by the agriculture, 20% for golf courses and 10 % for residential purposes. Of the 10%, 7% is used for the garden and only 3% in the households.

Water consumption is THE big issue in California: Who is allowed to use how much water where? We come across the topic every now and then. For instance, we crossed the Colorado River Aqueduct that takes water from the Colorado River and ships it as far as L.A. Or when we headed for the Salton Sea, a huge lake that was filled by an episodic flood coming from the Colorado River in 1904. The water got saltier since then because of evaporation. It is being poisoned by runoff from fertilizers and pesticides from agriculture.

We were told about a farmer who grows almonds and pistachios - and tomatoes if the market allows it. His annual bill for water is about 1.5 million dollars. No wonder, since it takes 6 gallons of water to grow one tomato...


Ron Andersen from Alaska and Stefan Baumann from Switzerland met the family at December 27th late night 15 miles south of Joshua Tree at the camp ground Hidden Valley, a rather simple but marvelous camping site with no showers and no running water.


The family wanted to spend a calm Christmas time on their own, but as always along their route, they met a lot of new and old friends:
- Carol, who made it possible to evacuate to the Lutheran Church in Joshua Tree village during a cold front - where we felt very comfortable. Being back on the background, the kids built up a snowman with the two inches of snow that had fallen.
- Melk and Simone from Switzerland on their way to San Francisco - from where they reported the bad news, that the windows of Pachamama were open. Salina was upset and wanted to return there immediately.
- Frauke and Paul from the Netherlands, traveling since last August through Canada and the US on their bikes and always happy to play with the kids - as well as backgammon.
- The mountain guides Stoian with Ekatherina from Bulgaria and Jamie with Adriana from Alaska with their families and Lynn Hill - once the top female climber - showed us a few new boulders nearby.


A lot of them participated in a Clean Up. - and we were astonished how little litter we found, mostly near the campsites themselves, a common finding in national parks. Might it be due to the fact that some Americans care about the nature also at other sites in the country?


Joshua Tree and especially the region around Hidden Valley Campground, is renowned for its rock climbing. So the whole family and also most of the others there did a lot of it.


On January 5th, we left Hidden Valley for the Cottonwood campground on the west edge of Joshua tree. Leaving this campground the next morning, we had every long downhill ride through a beautiful canyon as we headed to Mecca and around the edge of Salton Sea to Salton City and then turned west to our next campsite where we watched the full moon rise like a ball of fire over the hills on the other side of the lake. The reflection on the lake was like a fiery curtain. That day the whole team cycled over 80 miles, which was only possible thanks to the electric bikes of Stromer.


A good climb and then a downhill the next morning brought us to Borrega Springs, the first town in San Diego county, where we were able to make a one hour presentation to the students at the elementary school. The kids stayed the rest of the day as guests in classrooms and returned again this morning to spend another day with the students in the classrooms of Heidi Noyes and Polly Macuga.

After the presentation, we met the fourth grade math teacher, Monica, who works half of the day and had a nice long conversation while we ate lunch as guests of the school. She helped us a lot by arranging an interview with the local paper and giving directions to a bike shop, the Chamber of Commerce. To top it off, she invited us to come to her partner, Troy, and her house to take very welcomed showers, have dinner, and pitch our tents in their yard.

Early today we started the long climb over a pass through the mountains towards the coast and are now camping about 40 miles inland from the Ocean. After 2 months in the dessert we enjoyed the green grass, tress and already smell the Ocean.


by Sabine:
We arrived on the 17. of December in this wonderful Joshua Tree national Park. It was time to say goodbye to teacher Anina and filmmaker Jenny who coined us for 3 month. It has been a great time and we miss you! - Thanks so much. - Luckily Jenny will come back! - We met new friends John, Kim, Craig, Walter, Claudia to name a few.

For me Joshua Tree looks like on another planet - astonishing! We had the most different Christmas, we ever had! I was trying to make it Christmassy, but for a typical Swiss, who is used to have an evergreen tree in the warm, cozy home in the sugar powdered snow mountains, I couldn't. We were in the High-Desert, with Joshua Trees (we were not allowed to hang something on the trees, because of the rules in the National Park), living in a tent, with rocks and sand all around! The only thing what matched was the cold about minus 3 degrees Celsius at night, and we were prepared for Desert temperatures around 10 degrees Celsius.
But suddenly I realized that Christmas is not about decoration, gifts and snow. It's about to find peace. Here it was probably the most perfect place, we had no cell and internet coverage!
So we started to have a good time making cookies on the grill.
As I arrived at our campsite after a hike, we saw the invitation from Shelly, Shelly's daughter Kye and her boyfriend Andy to celebrate Christmas with them. We met Shelly in Alaska, where she does an amazing job as a wale scientist. Thank you so much for giving us a home at Christmas.
Back at the campground the kids did a Xmas play and invited all the climbers. So we had a wonderful Christmas.
Thanks to Carol and Dick we got an evergreen Christmas tree.


And last but not least: 5 days later it snowed!


Posted by dario at 5:51 AM

January 16, 2015

We have arrived in San Diego


This week we arrived in San Diego and are staying with our good friends Torgen and Lindsay who we met 11 years ago in the Caribbean. Although we haven't seen them since - and both families have had 4 children each in the meantime, it's as if a day hasn't past and our good friendship has been rekindled. Thank you so much for all your help and support and for letting us stay.


We were also invited to the US Stomer Headquarters to give a presentation. It was super to meet you all and thank you again for your sponsorship and support - the bikes have been, and continue to be brilliant on our cycle tour of the western states.


We have a busy few days ahead of us with several school talks and visits lined up and the biggest beach clean in San Diego taking place tomorrow - 17th January.

Please click here official beach clean press release - en_2015-01-15_press-release-toptotop-CLEAN-UP.pdf

If you or anyone you know is based in the area - please do come along and join us, share and spread the word to make it the biggest beach clean in San Diego to date.

Posted by dario at 7:13 PM

Beach Clean in Fletcher Cove Solana Beach this Saturday


Date: Saturday 17th January 2015 from 10 to 11 a.m
Start/Meeting point: Fletcher Cove Solana Beach
Organizer: TOPtoTOP Expedtion
Contact: (415) 516 36 79/jenny@toptotop.org

Please join - we can't wait to meet you all and make this the biggest beach clean yet!

Posted by dario at 7:56 PM

January 18, 2015

Cardiff Elementary School and Beach Clean


On Friday we were invited to speak to the 1st, 2nd and 3rd graders at Cardiff Elementary School. The school overlooks Cardiff Bay and with such a beautiful vista to lookout over whilst studying it wasn't surprising that the children at the school were so inspired by nature. We were also very impressed with the extensive recycling units they had around the school.


In the evening a good friend of ours Bart, threw a BBQ for us and people in the area to come and hear about TOPtoTOP and see if there were any ways in which they may be able to help. Dario put on a presentation also which the crowd seemed to enjoy!


Whilst there we were presented with a new digital camera, as unfortunately ours has started to fall apart. It was so incredibly generous and kind and we really can't thank you all enough. It was so great to meet you all and we look forward to seeing more of you all in the future.


Today was the day of our big beach clean up. It was great to be joined by so many families and members of the community. Thanks especially to Mizu Life for your support and shared enthusiasm for reducing ocean plastics by eliminating the use of plastic bottles. Check out their great product here. . We were also joined by a Sea-Lion which caused much excitement!


After an hour we had collected all the rubbish we could find from the beach - with the kids beating the adults in how much they could find! Considering the size of the group it was good to see that there was not so much trash to be collected - the sign of a well kept, looked after beach!


Thank you again to everyone who came!!


Posted by dario at 3:01 AM

January 21, 2015

San Diego School Visits

Today we were lucky enough to have not one, not two, but three presentations to schools in the north San Diego area.


First up it was the innovation.... where Dario presented to the school of 85. They also performed a clean up of the school area and it was great to see so little plastic to be found!


Then we spoke with the children at Del Mar Heights Elementary school, Sabine treated the 230 k-3 grade students to the muppet show with Dario following up with the presentation to the 240 4-6th graders.


We also performed a clean up of the playground area and again, were surprised at how little plastic there was to find!


Thank you all for having us! It was super to meet you all and thank you for performing such great clean- ups!

Posted by dario at 3:20 AM

January 24, 2015

Leaving San Diego... But not for long!

The end of our stay was a very busy one!


On Thursday we had a great day visiting the San Marcos Rotary Club at their lunchtime meeting. Thank you to John and the rest of the rotarians for having us and for your kind donation as well as giving the gift of vaccinating 30 children against Polio in TOPtoTOPs name.



After speaking to the rotarians it was on to UCSD to give a presentation to students and professors. This is the first of two talks at the university TOPtoTOP will give, when we return to the area in March (more on that later...) we will be heading back to the university to give a larger talk and presentation to the wider student body.



Whats next - big news!

Whilst here in San Diego we have been overwhelmed by the support and receptiveness of the local population. The area is so tuned in to changing their lives to a way which incorporates good solutions and promoting good solutions to others, which is why we are keen to make the most of this and return to the area.

Below you can see the route plan;


San Diego will now become 'base camp' for the next, and final leg of the expedition (points 10-15 on map). The first leg will see us sailing to the Arctic from San Diego, going from there through the NW Passage, down the east US coast and back to San Diego. We will then head south to Mount Vinson, our last TOP, in Antarctica, and then back up the east coast of South America and back to San Diego.

This POLE to POLE epic journey, will see TOPtoTOP becoming the 1st expedition to travel in a figure 8 around the Americas. During this time we have the aim to double the number of school children we have visited, from 80,000 to 160,000 by the time the expedition ends.

Once back in San Francisco we will sail back to San Diego to hold more presentations, school talks and fundraising events for this POLEtoPOLE journey. If you are interested in getting involved please get in touch - jenny @ toptotop.org or dario @ toptotop.org


These presentations have rounded off our 10 days in Solana Beach San Diego, in which we have presented to over 1150 people, of which 845 were school children - super!

We have been staying at our old good friends Torgen and Lindsays home, with their children Layse (7), Enzo (5), Coco (3), and Del Mar (20days!) - thank you so much to your beautiful family for having us, we will miss you a lot, but look forward to seeing you in March. Thank you also to Bart and Torgen who have been super in setting up schools, presentations and meetings for us, and also for being so enthusiastic and supportive of TOPtoTOP... you really are heroes, and it's very exciting to see what the futures holds with your support!

We now are heading up the coast, through San Clemente, LA and then up past Malibu and Santa Barbara. If you are based along the west coast and perhaps would like us to visit your childs school or join us for a few days cycling! We'd love to! Please do get in touch.

Posted by dario at 7:56 PM

January 29, 2015

Public Presentation in Mammoth Lakes CA - Please come and join us!

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Thanks to family Campbell from Thousend Oak we made it back to Mammoth. Jennifer and Peter with their lovely dog Hana hosted us in their house, where we prepared the public presentation at Community ski (see flyer). Jennifer managed all. Dan McConnel from TV Channel 12 interviewed us at 7 a.m. and filmed us also on the mountain till we left in the afternoon. Thanks to Luke, who repaired Salina's bike when we were 1st time in Mammoth cycling through and visiting schools, we got ski gear for all and Mammoth Mountain and Mammoth Lakes Tourism sponsored us the lift tickets.On the way back to Thousand Oak we had the pleasure to say hello to our friends Diana and Greg and Adrian in Bishop.

Posted by dario at 5:37 AM