14,411 Feet to Clean Water

Published On June 28, 2012 | By Hannah Ellsbury | Articles

Campaign: Climb for Clean Water
Campaign goal: $10,000
Has been fundraising since: March 22, 2012

Mt. Rainier

Mission statement: “As some of you know, I’m going to be climbing Mt. Rainier in mid-September… all 14,411 feet of it. Frankly, I’m not a good climber, I hate the cold, and this possibly takes the cake in a long line of poor decisions (see: marathons). It’s going to be extremely challenging just to get into shape to climb this beast, but I’m determined to do this to help raise money for an outstanding charity called charity: water.”

Climbing a mountain isn’t easy, even for the pros. Omair, a self-proclaimed amateur, plans to do just that this September. Washington State’s Mt. Rainier is over 14,000 feet high and it can get pretty chilly up top. But Omair is passionate about bringing clean, safe drinking water to developing nations, so he’s stepping up to conquer Mt. Rainier and raise valuable funds in the process. Several months into his training, we got to ask him about what started his journey.Omair

When did you first hear about the water crisis?
I’ve been interested in the water crisis, and more specifically the commodification/privatization of water resources, for a couple of years now. My interest was piqued after attending a seminar by Doctors Without Borders where they discussed water and sanitation logisticians as one of the fields they were recruiting for. The idea of tying together clean water and crisis management was really appealing to me, so I started doing some research on the delivery of clean water. I stumbled upon a Wall Street Journal article about how nonprofits were trying to fund themselves, and charity: water was mentioned. I was floored by the fact that 100% of public donations went to water projects.

“Most people I know think that climbing Rainier is either crazy or just plain stupid, but who doesn’t like to contribute to those sorts of adventures — especially when it’s for a great cause.”

How’d you end up choosing Mt. Rainier?
A friend of mine just asked me one day if I wanted to join her and some friends on this excursion, and I pretty much said yes without having any idea of what I was getting myself into. After committing to go, I decided to look up some details about Mt. Rainier, and that’s when I learned that it’s over 14,000 feet in elevation, it’s the most glaciated mountain in the lower 48 states, fewer than half of the 10,000 people who try to climb it each year succeed, and that it’s really cold at the top.

In addition to freaking out (six months of recommended training?!), I thought that this might be a good way to raise some funds for charity: water. Most people I know think that climbing Rainier is either crazy or just plain stupid, but who doesn’t like to contribute to those sorts of adventures — especially when it’s for a great cause.

So, you’re not really into climbing… how are you preparing?
Yeah, so the extent of my hiking experience is fairly limited. I spent a few days hiking around in Patagonia by myself in late 2010, but to give you an idea of my “experience,” I spent several days in a small Argentinean town in a hotel before I went out hiking, and I practiced putting up my tent every day in my hotel room for five days. That should tell you all you need to know. Luckily, there has been a fair bit written about climbing Rainier, so I’ve got some good training guides. The training involves a lot of aerobic work, and lots of work on your legs (lunges, squats, stairmaster, etc.) and core. I recently did some hiking while I was in Norway. As much fun as that was, it also showed me that I have a lot of serious training to do in the next three months!

Who’s climbing with you?
I’m climbing with my friend Gabrielle, her sister Danielle, and Danielle’s boyfriend Morgan. Gabrielle and I will be roped up together with a guide for the hike. I will not hesitate to cut her loose if she lags behind.

What’s really impacted you through this experience?
People have been incredibly generous with their donations, good wishes, and I’ve gotten advice from people who have done this sort of thing before, so the support has been amazing. Additionally, I’m hoping the campaign raises more awareness of the water crisis and gets more people involved in supporting charity: water. I’m looking forward to the challenge of climbing Rainier.

What has fundraising been like for you?
In terms of fundraising, I’m lucky that I work with extremely generous people and that there are around 3,000 of them in the building. I’m pretty sure they all heard from me at least three times over the last three months.

Any advice for people looking to start a campaign of their own?
The bolder the task you set out for yourself, the more of a response you will get. Also, it’s about doing something that you’re hopefully interested in or passionate about, so don’t be shy!

[via Charity: Water]

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