The Survivor Series: Jim Bonney on Mt. Cube – the Last of the 2012 Kili Prep Hikes

The Survivor Series: Jim Bonney on Mt. Cube – the Last of the 2012 Kili Prep Hikes

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The Survivor Series

 Jim Bonney on Mt. Cube – the Last of the 2012 Kili Prep Hikes

2,909 ft. 4 miles

The Prouty Mountaineering Program
(the first Prouty Challenge Event benefitting Dartmouth-Hitchcock Norris Cotton Cancer Center)

December 2, 2012

Wes Chapman


The Prouty Mountaineering Program is dedicated to people dealing with cancer – patients, care providers, families and friends. This is the third in a series of blogs about cancer survivors who come out to celebrate being alive, climbing in the mountains of New Hampshire and Vermont. The survivor series is about a very special group – cancer survivors sharing their stories and a day hiking with us in the Hills.


Jim Bonney starting the climb of Mt. Cube

Jim Bonney is a three time cancer survivor – that’s more than anybody should have to deal with. And yet he doesn’t seem to miss a beat in a very full life and a career dedicated to secondary education. Testicular cancer first entered Jim’s life in 1970, followed by melanoma and most recently prostate cancer. Despite this triple whammy, he managed to raise a great family, teach English, and then act as Head of School at the Tower School in Marblehead MA, until 2000.

Jim moved to the Upper Valley in 2000, first in Norwich and then to Meriden where he is the Managing Partner at the Educators’ Collaborative, a search and consulting business dedicated to private secondary education. But I think that the real reason that Jim is here is to enjoy the skiing and outdoors with his family – his wife is a dedicated annual trekker in Nepal.

Joining us on the hike was our good friend Stacy Patterson, with her husband Ross. They were married a couple of years ago, and took a year to travel around the world hang gliding in the most exotic mountainous locales that would allow them to climb to the summit and jump off. Rounding out the team this Sunday was Pete Volanakis, fresh off giving Saturday classes in customer service to some lucky local high school students.


Stacy – prepared for the climb

This team was a varied group of really dedicated outdoor enthusiasts, and the conversations were a lot of fun. We headed up the Rivendell Trail about 9:30 into the clouds and fresh snow. As we climbed, Jim mentioned that he had been skiing last week at Killington, and was headed out to BC to ski in the Gothics in a few weeks – very cool – I’m a little envious. The team was fit, the pace was quick, and everyone appreciated the marvels of Micro Spikes – even on the miserable quartzite and lichen of Mt. Cube.

Pete Volanakis and Jim planning a ski trip on the summit

Team at the summit

Team Photo at the Summit


Mosh photo at the Summit

We climbed into the clouds around 2,000 feet, and the summit was cool and quite windy. The weather dictated a quick turn, and after a brief lunch, we were headed back out. The sun started to burn through the clouds just as we left the summit, and by the time we arrive at the quartzite ledge (about .75 miles) the sun was out across the Valley – simply beautiful.


Jim at the Quartzite Ledge


Looking west toward the Connecticut River


Jim scouting our next climb

Climbing with Jim, it’s easy to forget how much he has been through, suffering three bouts with cancer. Jim is truly extraordinary, with the ability to make the nearly impossible look easy – successfully guiding educational institutions, family and career while having your life inverted every 10-15 years by cancer. He is a life-long outdoorsman, engaging climbing and skiing with a passion.  Getting a chance to go on a hike and get to know Jim better was a delightful way to spend a morning.

I have the privilege of leading a team of climbers – including a number of cancer survivors – up Mt Kilimanjaro this December – we are leaving in just a week. Being part of the Kilimanjaro effort has been enormously rewarding and fun. Many thanks to the entire team, but particularly the staff at the NCCC and the folks in the Survivor Series – Mark Green, Becky Gray and Jim Bonney.

Remember, it’s all about people.

 Summit clouds

All the Best from Kilimanjaro

Wes Chapman
Written by Wes Chapman

1 Comment responses

  1. Avatar
    December 09, 2012

    Jim. Yet again you are our inspiration! It’s great to see these Kili prep hikes expanded to a Survivor Series and include so many who share a commitment to advancing cancer research and enhancing our ability to take care of our patients. Thanks to all for the amazing efforts and for those going to Africa this week, Godspeed!