Being A Mule


This blog post was originally written for National Geographic Society in February 2011

Wow, this last week has been tiring to say the very least! Let me tell you, hauling 35+ pounds above 22,000 feet is not my, or I imagine anyone’s, idea of a good time; but it is what mountaineers perversely refer to as fun and exactly what I had to do to climb to the top of the Americas alone.

Like my last post, I am going to reflect on my time on the mountain from an energy standpoint, which is obviously not a typical week for me, and then focus on regular life in Egypt, which given recent events, has been highly irregular!

Like most people outside of Egypt, my information thus far has been through the media, friends and family, so I cannot claim any expertise. Yet I am happy to say that I have cut my trip short and am finally jumping on a flight tomorrow (which I offset!) to be where I belong.

Let’s back up a little… it’s January 28, and I still had no idea of the events unfolding in Egypt for 3 days. Communication was sparse, and I was simply engrossed juggling alternate plans to attempt the summit. Things looked reasonably good when suddenly one piece of information changed everything and brought me back to sea level.

Four days of historic and unprecedented events came pouring in one harsh dose. Mixed feelings is an understatement. I felt proud of my countrymen for standing for what they believe in, sad for not being part of it and I worried for family and loved ones. Where does this leave me and the expedition I had prepared so diligently for? I seriously considered turning back, but finally decided to remain and finish what I had started, do what I do best, and raise Egypt’s flag high. And so, despite 70 mile-an-hour winds, a destroyed tent and throwing up from sheer exhaustion, I made it to the top alone. My energy consumption for the week? ZERO.

Back in Egypt’s capital of Cairo during a regular week, the notoriously heavy traffic makes speeding a challenge, so I am usually at least 20 kilometers (or 12 miles) per hour below the speed limit. Over 90 percent of my driving is from my flat to the office five days a week, which is roughly 10 kilometers (6 miles) a day both ways. I drive a low-consumption 1.5 liter engine Mitsubishi Lancer which, combined with negligible cargo and brand-new inflated and tested tires, keeps transportation energy consumption very low. The tires I have now happen to be new, but like with the old ones I’ll make sure they are inspected monthly.

On weekends I will walk to most places rather than drive, otherwise carpooling is the way to go. As I said before, I’m happy to say that my flight to Argentina has been offset through an energy efficient stoves project in Kenya (and through the company I founded Wild Guanabanawe are working on establishing an eligible project in Egypt) and given the Carbon Zero status of the company, all work related travel this year will be subsequently offset

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