Remember the Challenge21 initiative? It was the ambitious project by climber/photographer Jake Norton to summit the three highest peaks on each of the seven continents in an effort to raise awareness of the importance of safe, clean drinking water in developing countries across the world. The project was launched a couple of years back and the team behind it have been diligently working away towards their goals while facing an uphill struggle to find funding and link their message to their efforts in the mountains. That hasn’t been an easy task and it looks like Challenge 21 is going through a bit of a refocusing phase as Jake and company search to find new ways to spread the word on how important having a source of clean drinking water really is.
In a recent post to the Challenge21 blog, Jake talks openly about these struggles while also pointing out that the project has been a great success. Since its start, Challenge21 has reached more than 1 million people and raised over $260,000 for Water For People. But at the same time he feels the organization can do more and that he needs to broaden the appeal of the project and cast a wider net in spreading the message that he had originally intended. With that in mind, Jake and his team will continue climbing, but he is finding new ways to link the story he wants to tell with the natural spaces that he visits.
The blog post also included the announcement of an upcoming expedition which will see Jake joined by Pete McBride and David Morton as they travel to India to make the first ascent of Chaukhumba IV a 6885 meter (22,589 ft) at the headwaters of the Ganges River. After they’ve summited that peak, the team intends to then travel source-to-sea, documenting life on the Ganges, which is one of the most important rivers in the world, but culturally and environmentally. It also happens to be one of the most polluted in the world. The dichotomy of these things will be part of the story that they tell as we follow these three men down a river that is considered sacred to hundreds of millions of people.
Stay tuned for more information on this expedition as it gets underway later this year. It should be well documented and feature some great stories both from the mountains of India and the river that plays such a significant role in that country’s identity.
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