Everest 2014: First Kenyan To Attempt Everest To Promote Sanitation

1600px Mt. Everest from Gokyo Ri November 5, 2012 Cropped

As the spring climbing season on Everest draws nearer, climbers from across the globe are busy putting the final touches on their preparation for the climb ahead. Many will be organizing their gear and packing before leaving for Nepal sometime over the next week or so. One of those climbers is Steve Obbayi, a 39-year old man from Kenya who is looking to become the first person from his country to summit the tallest mountain on the planet. But he isn’t going just to achieve that feat, as he also hopes to raise awareness of the importance of sanitation to overall health in an effort to improve conditions back home.

Steve will depart Kenya on March 24 and plans to arrive in Base Camp on the South Side of Everest in the first week of April. He is part of the Chase Bank Kenya Everest Expedition, and will be joined by founder Toby Storie-Pugh on this climb. The two men have tuned up with one another on the 17,057 foot (5198 meter) Mt. Kenya – the tallest peak in that country – and Mt. Kilimanjaro, which is the tallest mountain in Africa at 19,340 feet (5894 meters).

But climbing Everest will be a much bigger challenge than either of those mountains. For starters, you don’t need oxygen on Mt. Kenya or Kilimanjaro. Those climbs are also just a few days in length, while a Himalayan expedition will require 6-8 weeks to complete. Acclimatization will be much slower, the altitudes will be greater, and the technical challenges will be more intense. They’ll be climbing the South Col route on the Nepali side of the mountain, where Base Camp is actually located at a higher altitude than Mt. Kenya’s summit.

As I mentioned above, Steve and Toby won’t be climbing simply for the challenge. They have larger goals in mind. They will use their expedition to support a nonprofit called Toilet Hackers, an organization that has dedicated itself to providing clean, sanitary toilets to the 2.5 billion people in the world who don’t currently have one. They hope to accomplish this goal by 2025, thereby improving sanitation and health across the globe.

You’ll be able to follow the progress of the Kenya Everest Expedition on Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr. They’ll begin their journey next week when they depart for Kathmandu, and after a brief stay in the capital of Nepal, they’ll start the trek to Base Camp. If all goes according to plan, they’ll be there in early April with an eye on summating in mid- to late-May.

Good luck to Steve and Toby on this grand adventure.

Kraig Becker