Any advice for the novice climber or weekend warrior?
Do it for the right reasons. If you find yourself wanting to climb route x or peak y because you want to tell people about it (rather than because you want to climb it), then you’re doing it for the wrong reasons. Climbing is – or should be – and internal game, one which is driven by your desire to climb a route rather than some outward, ego-driven desire for recognition, etc.
And, the big issues with the latter is that it, more than anything else, leads to bad decision making. If we’re driven up a climb or to a mountain for ego, we’re far less likely to turn around when it makes sense to do so. So, climb because you want to, push hard because it feels right…don’t do it for ego.
Can you tell us a bit more about Challenge 21 & Water for People?
[singlepic id=1749 w=320 h=240 float=right]Challenge21 is really my dream come true in climbing. I’ve been climbing since I was 12, and working professionally in the mountains as a climber, guide, and photographer since I was 18. But, over time the thrill and reward of simply climbing began to dwindle for me. It just was not enough for me to climb a peak and have it end there.
And, over the course of my travels, the mountains have really become a convenient excuse for me to get to the people and places and cultures that have inspired and shaped my life. And, most of those people are far less fortunate than me – not because they’re lazy, or unskilled, but rather their lot in life is a lot worse than mine simply by virtue of geography. They were born, for example, in Gri, Nepal, and I was born in Massachusetts. To me, that’s hugely unfair, and I see it as my responsibility, my obligation, to do what I can, using the skills I have, to give something back to these people and places and cultures. It was all of this that gave rise to Challenge21.
Specifically, Challenge21 is the 3-4 year project to climb the Triple Seven Summits, and use those climbs as a leverage point to raise funds and awareness for Water For People and the global water and sanitation crises. We chose water and sanitation because, quite simply, these are the two most profound and fundamental issues facing the world today. Sure, there are a lot of important, worthy, legitimate causes out there.
But, at the end of the day, it all comes down to water, and it’s corollary, sanitation. No other development is truly possible until people no longer have to spend most of each day hauling water to their homes…none of it is truly possible until millions stop dying of preventable, water-related illnesses. Water and sanitation are the bottom of the mountain, and that’s where we’ve got to start.
We’ve chosen to work with Water For People – who, in full disclosure, my wife works for – because they are the best in the “business”. From the start, Water For People has focused on sustainable, long-lasting partnerships with communities and municipalities around the world. Their model is one which is proven, innovative, dedicated, and now emulated my many others.
Water For People is also dedicated to transparency and lasting solutions. They designed a revolutionary tool, FLOW, which allows for real-tim monitoring and evaluation of water points worldwide using an Android phone; the software, recently acquired by AKVO, shows both successes and failures clearly and accurately. They are focused on solutions that will be effective decades from now, as evidenced by the Everyone…Forever campaign which aims to reach entire communities, municipalities, and countries, rather than specific subsets, with water and sanitation solutions that will last forever. And, finally, they’re local – based in Denver – so the relationship works well on all fronts.
What can the average weekend warrior or person sitting on their couch reading this do to help with Challenge21 and Water For People?
A lot! The biggest thing is to spread the word. Through Challenge21, we’re in a unique position to leverage the drama of climbing to bring in prospective Water For People donors that would otherwise never know about the organization and their work. Since we started, we’ve done just that with thousands of people, and raised over $200,000. But, we’ve still got a long way to go to reach our goals (and help Water For People reach theirs). So, the biggest thing people can do to help is tune in, enjoy, and spread the word.
We’re also a bit different than many climbing/fundraising organizations in that 100% of every penny donated goes straight to Water For People. Not a single cent goes to funding our expeditions, or any part of Challenge21. Instead, we’re funding our expeditions by attracting corporate partners who want to reap tangible ROI’s from involvement in our climbs, as well as supporting the work of Water For People.
So far, we’ve had great support from Eddie Bauer & First Ascent, Live Worldly, Vocus, and Eco Vessel. But, we’ve also spent much of our own money to make our expeditions happen (this trip to Kenya is completely self-financed). So, another way people can help our efforts is to connect us with corporations who might want to partner with us.
Additionally, we’ve actively looking to expand our presence in schools around Colorado and across the country. We’ve done presentations and fundraisers with several schools in Colorado, and in Canada, and with great success. The program involves a presentation by myself and Wende, an optional “Walk for Water” where kids carry water jugs on a short, 2 mile course and get a firsthand feel for what so many endure daily around the world, and also do a fundraising program to raise money for Water For People.
And, of course, people can climb! Those interested can organize their own climb – say, a Colorado Fourteener, or Mount Galbraith near Golden, or whatever makes sense to them – and raise money via Challenge21 for Water For People. Or, on certain expeditions, they can sign up to join me on a climb. Not all Challenge21 expeditions are open for additional members, but some are, such as Carstensz Pyramid, currently in planning for October, 2012, and Mounts Vinson and Shinn, hopefully scheduled for January, 2013.
What’s next for you?
Mt. Kenya. In Nairobi, I’ll meet up with my team for our climb of Mount Kenya, Africa’s second highest peak. It’s an amazing team – Pete McBride, Kim Havell, Dudu Douglas-Hamilton, Frank Pope, and Julie Stabler Hull – and along with the climb Pete and I will be shooting a film telling the story of the Mt. Kenya watershed, and the impact its disappearance is having on the people and environment that depend on it.
After that, hopefully being home for a bit with my Wende and the kids!!
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Shortlink to article: http://wp.me/P2qW5j-TN
Photography courtesy of Jake Norton & Wende Valentine.
Photography may not be used without explicit permission.
Article by Kim Hull
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