We’ve seen some truly inspiring undertakings over the years here on the Adventure Blog, but occasionally we come across an expedition that just blows away almost everything we’ve seen. Such is the case with the Lowest/Highest Expedition, which is an attempt by three adaptive athletes to link the lowest point on each continent, to the highest point, completing the Seven Summits in a way that they have never been done before.
The expedition actually got underway a few months back, prior to the global shutdown due to the pandemic. The three members of the team include André Kajlich, Mohamed Lahna, and Lucas Onan, each of which has overcome some significant physical challenges to still manage to lead a life of adventure. Kajilich, for instance, was hit by subway train in Prague and lost both legs, but has sense become an extreme hand cyclist. Lahna was born without a femur, but has still managed to become a great middle-distance runner and paratriathlete, while Onan was born with a severely underdeveloped left arm, but is a top-notch climber, mountain biker, skier, and all-around outdoor athlete.
The three men came up with the idea for Lowest/Highest as a way to not only challenge themselves, but to also raise funds for the Challenged Athletes Foundation, an organization dedicated to helping adaptive athletes like themselves. They all knew that the Summit Sevens had been climbed numerous times by a wide variety of men and women, so they were looking for a unique way to take on that challenge for themselves. To do that, they decided that their attempts on the highest peak on each continent would start at the lowest point on that continent. And to link those points, they would cycle and trek their way from one point to the other.
The expedition got underway back in February, when the coronavirus was still a challenge that was mainly being faced by China and a few other Asian countries. The first leg of the journey took place across South America, with Kajlich, Kahna, and Onan setting off from Laguna del Carbón in Argentina, which sits at an elevation of –344 feet (-104 meters). They then turned towards the tallest mountain on the continent, which is Aconcagua, which stands at a height of 22,841 feet (6961 meters). The trio of adventurers reached the summit on March 6, but in-between they biked and hiked across Argentina, covering more than 2000 miles (3218 km) in the process. Their journey took them out of Patagonia to Aconcagua, covering about 130 miles (210 km) per day over 14 days.
When they reached Aconcagua, the team faced some new challenges. While they had completed the first leg of the journey, the high altitude of the mountain started to take its toll, particularly on Kajlich. After reaching Camp 3 using a hand cycle, André began experiencing some effects of altitude sickness. He encouraged Mohamed and Lucas to go on without him, while he stayed behind and rested. Eventually, Kajlich would recover and be just fine, but the team’s videographer had to be evacuated. Fortunately, everything went well for Lahna and Onan, who summited the mountain, then returned to C3, with the entire team reuniting and going back down to BC together.
The team had planned to head to Europe this summer for the second leg of their journey, but with travel restrictions still firmly in place, that stage is now on hold. Like the rest of us, they’ll have to wait and watch for things to open up. Hopefully, they can get back to it soon.
Find out more about this amazing adventure at LowestHighest.com.