Higher Than Everest

It’s hard to believe it’s been one year since the journey of Challenge21 began. We officially launched on Earth Day, 2011, but the idea for Challenge21 actually began on a rainy trail run above Durango, Colorado, many months before; it gestated through many in-depth conversations with my partner and inspiration, Wende; and continued developing via Iridium satellite phone emails from Antarctica in January, 2011.

But since its inception, there has been consistency:

Wende and I know that although my climbing the Triple Seven Summits is far from easy or straightforward, we want to ensure our lives – and now both of our careers – support equality in our world. Our children, Lila (age 4) and Ryrie (age 2), are no different from the kids in the picture above but they don’t spend their days fetching water or getting sick from lack thereof.

My climbing for the past year – including Mt. Stanley, Pico de Orizaba, and now Everest – has been dedicated to Challenge21 and the people Water For People partners with around the world…and these climbs are the ones of which I am the most proud in my entire life. Only 14 more peaks to go!

And, we have incredible consistency in our supporters. So far, we’ve raised nearly $100,000, all of which has gone directly to Water For People. These funds have come from you, our supporters, both corporate and individual, and we’re thankful beyond words for all you have done, and we look forward to continuing to climb with you. Together we can see entire districts, like Rulindo, Rwanda, and every one of its 265,000 people, attain access to improved water forever – an unprecedented feat in all of sub-Saharan Africa.
As I sit here in my tent at 17,600 feet on the Khumbu Glacier in Nepal, listening to the jet stream rip over the upper reaches of Mount Everest, I’m thinking about the challenging West Ridge which my teammates and I will move upwards and onto before dawn tomorrow. Some 49 years ago, Tom Hornbein and Willi Unsoeld – clad in Eddie Bauer down, just as we are today – scrambled up that ridge and into a well-deserved spot in history. But, to me, their real history was in what they did after the climb, off the mountain, never sitting on their laurels, but rather working tirelessly to leave the world a bit better than how they found it. They both, as Willi later famously said, had their sights set on something “higher than Everest”.

So, on this first anniversary of Challenge21, we’re joining with corporate partners First Ascent by Eddie Bauer, Eco Vessel and Live Worldly to continue the climb and reward our dedicated supporters and donors and bring more people into the Challenge21 story. Thanks to the vision of these dedicated companies, we’ll be giving away three amazing combination packages over the next several weeks as I go up and down the mountain acclimating and eventually working my way to the top. We hope you’ll join in, spread the word through email, Facebook, Twitter, check out our brand new website, and we hope you’ll win some of the great products from our generous partners.

Together we can raise $29,035 (the elevation of Everest) by June 7th if each one of us donates $21 (wait, if every one of us did that, we could actually go much “higher than Everest!”) which will directly help Water For People reach Everyone, Forever, in 30 districts across 10 countries by 2018 affecting more than 4 million people. It’s an ambitious goal – far more ambitious than climbing any mountain – but one that Water For People is committed to realizing.

I hope you’ll join us.


About the Author : Jake NortonClimber, guide, photographer, speaker, founder of www.Challenge21.com, and - most importantly - husband and father.View all posts by Jake Norton

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