To that last one I can confidently answer, mountain. Now more than ever.
For some time, I've had an armchair obsession with high altitude mountain adventure/survival books like Into Thin Air and Miracle in the Andes. I half-heartedly wanted to join in the mix, but thought I probably didn't have the fortitude.
Nevertheless, I thought about trying out Kilimanjaro many years ago in college when someone mentioned that it was doable for laypeople. I hadn't considered it until recently, when my friend and fellow rock climber, said he wanted to climb it. Of course, I was in.
The prep was semi-arduous. Kilimanjaro is a National Park which mandates that you take a guide with you. There are hundreds of companies that facilitate climbs so picking one can take forever. Fortunately my friends use spreadsheets for fun. The pros and cons were graphed before I even typed Kilimanjaro into Google.
We went with a company called Basecamp, which came recommended of course. They work closely with a hotel in Arusha, which gives a home base at the bottom of the mountain. We arrived there in a fog of sleep late at night, incredulous that after 24 hours of air travel, we would begin the climb early the next morning. Altitude + jetlag!
From: Cincinnati, Ohio
Occupation: software engineer for a debt management company in Orange County
Strengths: seemingly endless supply of energy and jokes
From: San Francisco, specifically Hayward
Occupation: IT technician for a financial investment company in Century City
Strengths: Experienced hiker, climbed Mount Whitney, insanely goal-oriented
Weakness: He will leave your butt behind
From: Originally from Latvia, grew up in Canada
Occupation: Professor Piano
Strengths: She flies planes, boom. If we are in a plane and the pilot passes out, we have no worries
Weaknesses: She's never been camping before
From: Originally from Taiwan, grew up in East Los Angeles
Occupation: Freelance computer game programmer
Strengths: Avid hiker and Boy Scout, has bobby pins and duck tape at all times
Weaknesses: Is there such a thing as being too organized?
Me / Missy
From: Southern Virginia
Occupation: Artist, costume designer, sometimes art teacher and explorer
Strengths: very adaptable and resourceful
Weaknesses: always cold
Occupation: Lead guide for Basecamp
Family: Wife and two kids (10 and 7)
Occupation: Assistant Guide for Basecamp
Family: Wife and baby (Brian, 6mo)
From: Moshi from Chagga Tribe
Occupation: Assistant Guide for Basecamp and in school
Family: Wife and two kids (7 and 5)
From: Arusha from Chagga Tribe
Occupation: Cook for Basecamp
Occupation: Assistant to the cook for Basecamp
Occupation: Security for Basecamp
Family: Hashim's younger brother