When we first heard about the American Express #PassionProject we erroneously thought of it as a type of Kickstarter for the wealthy. After close inspection, we learned the project is kinda cool: help make dreams and passions come true.
One passion that impressed us was 38 year old Toby Storie-Pugh’s Expedition Everest campaign to support Steve Obbayi and his team in their mission to summit Mount Everest, the world’s tallest peak, in Spring 2014. Obbayi, 39, is a tech entrepreneur and former rugby player who taught himself to write software. He is the first Kenyan climber to attempt Everest. In 2003, Sibusiso Vilane became the first black African to summit Mount Everest – a record-breaking journey that he considers the highlight of his life. When Storie-Pugh put out the call for Kenyans, over 250 applied. Obbayi was one of the finalists.
“The idea of seeing whether we could actually get the first Kenyan climber up the mountain worked its way into my consciousness,” Storie-Pugh, an English entrepreneur, philanthropist and adventurer, told National Geographic last summer. “So many of the stories coming out of Kenya and out of Africa focus on the negative aspects of the continent – I found that frustrating.”
To prepare for the expedition Obbayi is training in Africa, climbing mountains, running, swimming and training specific muscles. His fear however, is the cold. In the winter, a constant wind chill whips through the Everest air at about -148 degrees.
“I’ve seen the wind and snow in videos, but the reality hits you when you’re there,” Obbayi told National Georgraphic. “When you understand the challenge, you’re able to alleviate most of the fears that you have.”
The pair have spent considerable time and energy promoting the virtues of Kenya and are asking for backing. Do so here