Aug 28, 2015

The Mountain of Greatness #4

I am nervous and excited completing this post today. 

Jenell leaves for Tanzania via Amsterdam tomorrow, August 29th. She certainly has the support, encouragement and well wishes from family and friends and coworkers. I am sure many will be following the updates from the expedition guide, David Hahn, once they start the climb. See question #9 below. 

Best Wishes Jenell !

Mount Kilimanjaro.... ONE STEP AT A TIME 

1_ Jenell, you recently returned from your trip to Colorado, where you and Sabrina completed a hike of the Barr Trail at Pike’s Peak. How did it go ?  Any issues with your injury and ongoing recovery? 

It went really well, I learned my knee is totally stable enough to climb and that I can overcome altitude sickness fairly well. It was a great success overall.

2_ Regarding your hiking equipment, did everything test out as planned, are there any adjustments you will be making for the Tanzania trip based on your hike in Colorado ?

Everything technically worked well. We learned a lot about our gear and how to use it, how poorly our electronic devices will do or not do and how to use our GoPro cameras. We learned that to avoid injury and loss of energy, we will inspect each other’s backpack contents at the start of the day. That way if we need something, we can ask each other to get the gear out without removing our packs. The first hike we did we spent too much time taking our packs off and then putting them on trying to find stuff.

Sabrina and Jenell 

3_ You hiked the Inca Trail in Peru with Sabrina a few years ago.  Based on the hike to Machu Picchu and what you know lies ahead with the Mount Kilimanjaro how would you describe the relationship, dependence and independence that develops between the hikers as you climb in Tanzania ? 

 It is actually noted in our documentation from RMI that friends you hike Kilimanjaro with may not be your friends afterward! We will be tired and stressed so we actually talked about this on our climb in Colorado. We shared with each other what we can expect when we’re tired and stressed and how to react to it. We also made a pact to tell each other honestly when we’re too tired or sick to go on and to respect the other’s ability to summit alone. Both of us tend to push ourselves very hard, so most of all, we want to be able to allow ourselves to say “I have to quit” if we’re sick or injured.

4_ You are now less than 2 days from your departure date of August 29th, 
what is top of mind as the date gets closer ? What becomes a priority ? What are you focusing on day to day to be 150% ready ? 

There are so many little logistics. Losing my Uncle who I was very close to this soon from departure threw me for a loop. I am planning to spread some of his ashes at Uhura Peak at the summit, so I’ve had to add the logistics of legally and appropriately transporting him with me to the gear and to-do checklist. My physical fitness is ready, during the last week of prep I’m trying to have all the important conversations with people I need to have and to get my “affairs in order” in case of any dire circumstances.

5_ Have you had any days or waking nights were you’ve thought…. What have I signed up for

Not at all, I’m all in and stoked for this adventure….well, except for that moment at 13,500ft in Colorado when I asked Sabrina why the hell we’re doing this! LOL, I loved her answer. She said “because we’re already successful at life, we need to challenge ourselves to do things we might fail at.” I agree with that wholeheartedly.

 6_ After your expedition group descends from Mount Kilimanjaro, you will all get to experience 4 days of “the wilds of Africa in pop-top Land Rover safari drives”.  And one of those days the group will visit a Maasai Village, what are you most looking forward to during the safari portion of your visit to Tanzania ? 

With all the focus and prep on climbing the mountain, I have spent very little time actually imaging the rest of the trip. The Safari in and of itself will be such an amazing experience. In all my travels I want to expand my knowledge and understanding of different cultures and environments. Seeing a Maasai village will be an absolute honor and something I’m sure will be a lifelong story to tell.

Austin Texas to Amsterdam 

7_ Briefly detail your travel itinerary ? 

We leave Saturday from the US and arrive in Amsterdam for a full day of rest and site seeing. We rented a houseboat in the center of the city, so we can break up the long flights and stretch our legs a bit. Then we’re back on a plane to Tanzania, arriving late at night. Our first day will be a meet and greet and then climbing the mountain for 7 days, followed by the 4 day Safari and then departing flight directly home.

Amsterdam to Tanzania 

 8_ What is the date of the Mount Kilimanjaro summit ascent ? 

Summit day is day 9 in our itinerary. It will fall on Tuesday, September 8th. 

 9_ The last question, once on the mountain your group will not have any access to post or provide updates. Your RMI guide, Dave Hahn, will post updates via the RMI web site on the Blog Page.  And family and friends following your RMI group can post comments and feedback ? 

YES, what a cool feature this is provided by our expedition company. From the home page on the RMI website, you access the BLOG page. Once you are on the blog page you can filter the content by location: Tanzania and the guide: David Hahn. 

My girlfriend will also post daily pictures from the RMI travel journal to my Facebook page that details each day’s journey and expectations. She will include the link to the RMI blog so my friends and family know where I am relatively, and what I’m experiencing.

And from people who know and love Jenell, why Kilimanjaro: 

Jenell's Mom:

Jenell has always taken on challenges & usually conquers them.  She is a nature lover & loves adventure & the outdoors. From the time she was very young if she was told she couldn't do something she was determined to prove that she could.


To get to the top. That is the cliché answer, and I really don’t think that is why she is doing it.   To use another cliché, I don’t think she is doing this for the destination, she is doing it for the journey.  

And the journey is already in process.  She has already started her climb up that mountain.  The journey up that mountain won’t be at the base of the mountain.  It has already begun with her.  She has already answered the call of the wild to challenge her physically, mentally, and emotionally.  Obviously getting to the top of a mountain is more than just showing up at the base and hiking up.  It takes training and preparations to do so successfully.  Jenell has been setting out to do something that takes significant effort, time, and training.  In her case, it has taken a lot of sweat and pain just to prepare.

If you know Jenell, you know she is always strategically thinking ahead.  She is a dreamer and an explorer.  She will always push herself to new heights (pun intended).  She is going to do things that test her own limits and abilities.  That fuels her.  For many people, the call of the wild is undeniable.  Yet for only some people is that call answered.  Jenell is one of those people. 


For personal challenge and growth. There are many lessons we can learn from structured education, everyday life experiences, and other people. But additional personal and spiritual growth require a commitment to reach outside of normal comfort zones and to then take action. Undertaking a physical and mental feat of this magnitude and learning from the experience will further show Jenell what she's made of. I think she wants to push her known boundaries and pretty much conquer the world... while having an amazing experience that will forever change how she views herself, as well as everyone and everything around her. And who can blame her for that?!

Simply stated, I'm in absolute awe of Jenell and the adventure she has ahead of her. People often dwell on dreams of what they'd like to accomplish, but Jenell is actually making it a reality. It's too easy to simply say "I wish", "what if", or "if only I had"... and so much bolder to take that leap. It's a reflection of who she is and the depth of her personal drive and commitment. I also admire that Jenell so willingly shares the steps of her adventure and even her setbacks, like her recent injury, with everyone. It's moving to see so many cheering her along the way. It sparks interest and conversation and hopefully inspires others to accomplish their desires, regardless of what obstacles they may encounter. I'm thrilled to encourage and support Jenell as she pushes toward and ultimately reaches her goal!