At the opening to the most famous of his short stories, Ernest Hemingway introduces us to Kilimanjaro in terms both measurable (“19,710 feet high”) and mythic (“the House of God”).
Not to quibble with Papa, but neither actually is fact. Today, Mount Kilimanjaro, a little shorter thanks to a melting snow cap, checks in at a still-imposing 19,341 feet. And the origin of its name remains impossible to verify.
Still, Kilimanjaro is no slouch of a slope. It is the highest point on the African continent, qualifying the mountain for status in the most exclusive of clubs: the Seven Summits, representing the tallest peak on each of the world’s seven continents.
Which is why Tommy Danger and Mark Nolan found themselves atop Kilimanjaro on November 19, 2013. It was the first step in their quest to scale the Seven Summits, a campaign launched on behalf of the More Than Just Me Foundation to raise awareness of and funds to combat Cystic Fibrosis, a genetic condition that affects more than 70,000 people around the world.
Today, a little more than three years removed from the top of Africa, Tommy and Mark are more than halfway through their adventure, fittingly called More Than Just Mountains. We pick up their story with four peaks in their past — Kilimanjaro, Elbrus (Europe), Aconcagua (South America) and Denali (North America) — and preparations underway for Ascent No. 5. We will follow them as they get set for an early 2017 attempt at Carstenz Pyramid (also called Puncak Jaya) on New Guinea, which is considered part of Australia.
We also want to catch you up on where they’ve been to date.
Below is the first episode of More Than Just Me TV’s original series documenting this profound pursuit. Filmmaker John Burkett joined Tommy and Mark on their first four summits, and this episode appears courtesy of his Red Tide Productions.