Everest Team Inspi(RED) reaches the top
Three intrepid big-hearted adventurers have scaled Mount Everest, summiting just after 8 a.m., Nepal time, on May 22, determined to bring attention to the needs of people in Africa with AIDS or HIV.
Jeff Dossett, MSN's executive producer, and his climbing friends Melissa Arnot and guide David Mortonchronicled their ascent for Project (RED) on a Live Spaces blog, rich with video and photos, that provides insights into modern mountaineering, the human spirit, Mother Nature and Lady Luck.
Follow their journey by starting with the initial April 4 posting of their Everest Team Inspi(RED) blog. Their account is a fascinating contrast of old and new – ancient spiritualities, modern technology and mountain-climbing strategy – and a lesson in addressing a seemingly insurmountable health crisis using a business model for social good.
Their strategy was to bring attention to their endeavor when the world turns its collective eyes toward the Himalayas to watch man challenge mountain. This spring, many climbers have met success, as a scan of Live Search news shows. Among them: a 76-year-old Nepalese, who is the oldest person ever to climb to its 29,029-foot summit,and a Mount Rainier climbing guide from New Mexico who made it to the top for the 10th time. On their trek Everest Team Inspir(RED) sought to share some of the spotlight, thanks to the climb's official sponsors, Windows, Dell, MSN and MSNBC.
"Our goal," Dossett wrote, "is to build awareness of an innovative organization known as (RED) and to inspire individuals to join the growing community of (RED) supporters at www.JOINRED.COM and help change the lives of people living with HIV/AIDS in Africa."
In the annual spring quest to summit Everest, climbers must acclimate their minds and their bodies. The early postings chronicle their impressions of Kathmandu, with rattling rickshaws, Tibetan blessings and a cybercafé perhaps closed for the season by a yak that trampled its Internet cables.
The Project (RED) trio, aided by solar-powered camera batteries, laptops and satellite modems, explain the science of climbing at altitude and how it impacts them. Three weeks into their sojourn supported by Sherpas, Morton and Dossett wrote a joint post about life at base camp and the difficulties of gaining – much less maintaining – strength in thin air. "For the most part, we are relatively healthy. I say 'relatively' because at this high altitude (17,600 feet), it is common for all expedition members to experience some combination of altitude-induced headaches, upper respiratory illness (e.g. the “Khumbu cough”) and other gastrointestinal symptoms (and that’s enough said about that)!"
A few days before their summit attempt, they descend more than 5,000 feet to base camp, relishing rhododendrons blooming amid greening meadows and flowing streams. At 10:30 p.m. on May 21, they are in position to head to the top of the world. Wearing oxygen masks and climbing slowly to preserve their strength, they encounter frustrations amid the clump of about 80 climbers trying to get to the top.
But they exult on a rare day surprisingly mild for the highest point on earth, spending an hour at the top. Everest's notorious winds are virtually absent and Dossett and Morton swap their hats and hoods for baseball caps. Morton even pockets his gloves, better to take pictures and to pose with their inspirational banner made for them by their supporters in Africa.
While Dossett wanted to climb Everest again, after his 2004 success, the ulterior motive was to raise awareness of the economics of AIDS and consumer compassion. Each blog entry acknowledges the merits of buying various Project (RED) products from various supporting partners like Motorola, Converse and The Gap.
This program, launched by singer/activist Bono and his producer partner Bobby Shriver, has started to change the health prospects of a despairing continent bearing 22 million people with AIDS or HIV. Previously, few afflicted Africans could afford the annual expense of $10,000 in antiretroviral capsules. But today the cost of those ARVs has fallen to $140 a year – bringing hope to about 20 percent of those in need. Two pills a day for two months saves lives.
As (PRODUCT) RED manifesto states on its website, “(RED) is not a charity. It is simply a business model. You buy (RED) stuff. We get the money, buy the pills and distribute them. They take the pills, stay alive and take care of their families and contribute socially and economically in their communities."
Hundreds of people followed the journey up Everest with the Project(Red) team, including some heartfelt comments from admirers, including one blogosphere watcher who wrote in the guestbook, "What an INC(RED)IBLE adventure! Thanks for letting us come along for the ride."
Take a look at the blog yourself, and buy (RED).
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