Advisory Board

Meet the Kilimanjaro Advisory Board members! These enthusiastic past travelers help us fine-tune our trips to make your Kilimanjaro experience even more unforgettable. They also help us spread the word about Thomson’s life-changing treks. We’re so grateful for their input, and we’re proud to have them as part of the Thomson family!

Advisory board member - ERIK ANDERSEN


My dream trek: I dream of seeing the sand dunes of Namibia and trekking the Okavango Delta in Botswana.

Most memorable moment on Kili: The inspirational speech from our guide, “Soldier”, when we were summoning the strength to climb the final 1000 vertical feet.

Something unexpected: My first job out of college was “garbage man”, back when you had to lift the cans by yourself.

Two words to describe my trek: Epic and fun

Advisory board member - ALLEN


My dream trek: The Torres del Paine circuit in the Patagonia region of Chile

Most memorable moment on Kili: A 2am view of the night sky from Barafu Camp…moon out, a billion stars shining, light reflecting off of the clouds below…unbelievable and other worldly!

Most memorable meal: Delicious roast guinea pig

Something unexpected: I have a black belt in Tae Kwon Do. Honestly, however, if I did some of those moves now, I would really hurt myself!

Advisory board member - BETHANY ASPLUNDH


My dream trek: Through the jungles of Southeast Asia

Most memorable moment on Kili: Reaching the summit. The sense of elation, accomplishment and camaraderie was indescribable. Looking out over Africa was a view I will never forget.

Most memorable meal: Last March in Lubumbashi, Democratic Republic of Congo, I ate sautéed caterpillars.

Something unexpected: For fun I do Equine Endurance; we race 50-100 miles in a day.

Advisory board member - CORBAN BELL


My dream trek: Nepal, along the base of the Himalayas

Most memorable moment on Kili: Pushing myself past my [perceived] limits after reaching Stella Point.

Most memorable meal: While in the Italian Alps, after skiing, a nice little Italian restaurant opened its doors off hours and made my favorite pasta a la carte!

Two words to describe my trek: Self-discovery

Advisory board member - RONELLE BERLIN


My dream trek: I have insatiable wanderlust and want to see as much of the world as possible! Going back to Africa is an absolute must but I’d also love to trek Machu Picchu.

Most memorable moment on Kili: Reaching Uhuru Peak and running (like in a movie) to hug my best friend, Cindy MacLachlan. We’ve dreamt of climbing Kili together for almost 20 years!

Most memorable meal: Honestly, some of the best food I’ve had was on Kili. Truly, no lie. I never expected to be SO well fed with such amazing food. The Tanzanian soups our Chef, Clety, made were nourishing and delicious. Outside of Kili, you can’t beat New York style pizza.

Advisory board member - JACK DeFORREST


My dream trek: The Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. And hikes in Switzerland with my daughter, who hiked Kili with me.

Most memorable moment on Kili: Hiking with my daughter (age 28). It was a fantastic father/daughter experience.

Most memorable meal: In Kyoto, Japan, where geishas sat by our sides and served/entertained us (men and women alike). Like, how many times will one be served by geishas??

Something unexpected: I am not an avid trekker, so was very pleased that I made it to the top of Kilimanjaro with little problem. FYI, now I’m an avid trekker!

Advisory board member - CANDACE GROUDINE


My dream trek: I would love to trek in Nepal but NOT anything close to the challenge posed by Mt Kilimanjaro.

Most memorable moment on Kili: The “infamous” (LOL) Barranco Wall. I LOVED it; did some rock climbing and bouldering a number of years ago and climbing the Wall was a lot of fun….not at all scary like some might have you believe.

Something unexpected: Climbing Mt Kilimanjaro showed me how much I can push myself, both physically and mentally. The climb was the most challenging thing I’ve ever done, both physically and mentally.

Two words to describe my trek: Awesome and spiritual (in a nontheistic and non-religious sense)

Advisory board member - HEATHER GUSTAFSON


My dream trek: Through the Himalayan Mountains to see the various Buddhist monasteries along the way to visit Everest base camp.

Most memorable moment on Kili: Watching the sunset over Shira Peak while talking with Gama, one of our guides, on our second night on the mountain.

Most memorable meal: “People watching” in The City Hall Square in Copenhagen, Denmark with my Mom while we ate Pølsar (a Danish hot dog) made by a local street vendor.

Something unexpected: I am a certified boot fitter and can properly fit most hiking and trekking boots to anyone’s feet.

Advisory board member - MICHAEL HAYASHI


My dream trek: Ranging from Everest base camp to Pyrenees to Colorado Trail (566 miles). Given the breathtaking views, I love to visit Caminito del Rey, Malaga, Spain.

Most memorable moment on Kili: My daughter encouraging me not to give up with only 1000 ft (vertical) to Stella Point and viewing Mt. Meru emerging above the clouds from Uhuru.

Most memorable meal: I am a Japanese food snob. Best sushi: prepared by Sushi chef Yasuda at Yasuda in NYC. Best Kaiseki: prepared by chef Niki Matsumoto of n/Naka in Culver City, CA. Most memorable meal: tapas at a small restaurant/bar in Valencia, Spain. It was so unexpected, excellent and never knew how good Vermouth could taste.

Something unexpected: I am absolutely terrified of heights! Thought of traversing the Kissing Wall kept me up the first 4 nights!


Advisory board member - NANCY HEMENDINGER


My dream trek: El Camino de Santiago or Mt. Everest base camp.

Most memorable moment on Kili: The guides and porters singing my family to the summit and us huddled together as tears poured down our faces.

Something unexpected: I only went on the trip because my husband and daughters wanted to go as a celebration of our family’s health. Our daughters and family had battled with anorexia nervosa for 10 years. I enjoy hiking but I had no desire to live in a tent for 10 days, but when my daughters wanted to make this a fundraiser for the National Eating Disorders Association ($1 for each ft to the Summit) how could I say no? As we ascended to the summit, I started to feel nauseous and of all things-had difficulty eating. At the moments when I felt like I couldn’t continue, it was my daughters and husband who encouraged me, just as I had encouraged all of us through the eating disorder battle.

Two words to describe my trek: Life-changing, Healing

Advisory board member - RAYMOND JACOB


My dream trek: Machu Picchu

Most memorable moment on Kili: The determination, respect and compassion the guides and porters had for our final ascent up from base camp.

Something unexpected: Humbling change in my overall perception of global humanity. We are One.

Two words to describe my trek: Appreciation and humbling

Advisory board member - PATTI KALAL


My dream trek: I would love to explore/trek around Egypt, especially the pyramids.

Most memorable moment on Kili: The whole trip was memorable but I really enjoyed the challenge of the Barranco Wall (see photo).  I really felt like a mountain climber on that part of the climb!

Something unexpected: I was bit by a dog while working as a mail carrier in college and that eventually led to my going to law school and becoming a lawyer.

Two words to describe my trek: #SavageMom (this is how my 17 year old daughter referred to me in her Instagram post with our Summit photo.)

Advisory board member - GINA LANE


My dream trek: Cho Oyu or Lobuche in Asia

Most memorable moment on Kili: At Shira II the porters began this beautiful, rhythmic singing. The sun began came out, the clouds parted and Uhuru showed herself to us for the first time.

Most Memorable Meal: Homemade Empanadas in Mendoza, Argentina. I took a cooking class at a woman’s home, where we made them from scratch from cows she had butchered. Best thing I’ve ever put in my mouth!

Something unexpected: I am an amateur Mycologist.


Advisory board member - MARC LEWIS


My dream trek: For nearly 20 years, my dream trek was Kilimanjaro. I’m still experiencing the high of that trip, seven months later, and have yet to envision a trek that will live up to that life-changing and life-affirming experience. As soon as I know where I most want to travel next, I’ll make sure to let you know!

Most memorable moment on Kili: As I approached the Uhuru Peak summit sign, the floodgates burst open and I sobbed as I never have before.

Something unexpected: I have had four knee surgeries, and this was my first multi-day hike in 15 years, having gone camping only once since my days at summer camp.

Two words to describe my trek: Pole Pole (Polay Polay)

Advisory board member - JEAN LOO


Most memorable moment on Kili: Standing outside my tent in the middle of the night at base camp, the clear, frigid, crisp air, the huge quiet sky filled with stars and the moonlight shining on the blanket of clouds. It’s breathtaking, a feeling I will never forget.

Most memorable meal: Just as we were near the top of the Barranco wall, it started raining. We put on our rain gear to complete the climb and meet the crew at the top for lunch. It rained so hard, we couldn’t eat outside, so the crew quickly reorganized and found a cave near by to have lunch. I was stunned to be at 15,000’, pouring rain, sitting in a cave having hot soup, hot tea and an incredible full meal.

Something unexpected: An architect, a designer, and mother of 3. East coast city girl at heart, but became an outdoor lover raising a family in California.

Two words to describe my trek: Magical, inspirational

Advisory board member - CYNTHIA MacLACHLAN


Most memorable moment on Kili: Summit day – when the sun was rising, the clouds were below and the glaciers were seen above. It was spectacular.

Most memorable meal: Loved the morning porridge served almost daily in the mess tent. I also loved the soups.

Something unexpected: As much as I love to be around people and help people, some of my most precious, clear moments are when I am alone in nature.  

Two words to describe my trek: Spiritual and Unforgettable

Advisory board member - CHARLIE McMAHON


My dream trek: Traditional Japanese trekking routes, Mt. Fuji and the countryside around Mt. Koya on the “pilgrimage trails.” Then on to the northern most area of Japan’s national park system on Hokkaido.

Most memorable moment on Kili: Watching the sunrise on summit day after leaving Outward Bound. It is a scene few people will ever forget.

Something unexpected: My reaction to viewing the wildlife on a nature walk at Ndarakwai Ranch was unexpected and exhilarating. My field of vision seemed to enlarge and became sharper as we followed a herd of elephants on foot. To walk on the same ground with them was very different. I was a rifle squad leader in the Marine Corps but this hike definitely raised my “situational awareness.”

Advisory board member - AARON MARGOLIS


My dream trek: I would love to challenge myself and would like to attempt a few: Everest Base Camp, Aconcagua, and some of the beautiful European treks.

Most memorable moment on Kili: No one single moment, just a compendium of moments: the hard work of the porters, the summit day, even ending a day’s trekking and looking up to realize how much more there was to go.

Something unexpected: I love to box and get in the ring (with headgear) and spar.

Two words to describe my trek: Humbling and touching

Advisory board member - TONY MARSHALL


My dream trek: The moon is #1 but currently beyond budget. My second choice and perhaps similar in ways is Mt. Vinson in Antarctica.

Most memorable moment on Kili:Witnessing courage as I never have; my 70 year old father summiting Kilimanjaro.

Something unexpected: I have flown to the edge of space to 80,000ft in a MIG 25.

Two words to describe my trek: Go again

Advisory board member - ELIZABETH MONTELEONE


My dream trek: I am a sucker for adrenaline and a challenge. I’d love to do the Snowman Trek in Bhutan. Visiting some of the most remote locations in the world, experiencing and learning about Buddhist history, viewing some of the only unclimbed mountains in the world, glimpsing some of the rarest wildlife, all coupled with challenging hikes sounds like an ideal adventure of a lifetime to me.

Most memorable meal: Chamico’s, on a secluded beach outside Tulum, Mexico. Little more than a shack, it has the best ceviche and the fish is caught fresh daily in the very bay you sit next to. Dishes are simple and fresh, the beach has hammocks and palm trees you can laze under, the water is calm and perfect for snorkeling. It makes you want to stay tucked away on that beach forever.

Something unexpected: I made it to 30 countries by age 30. Aiming for 100 countries by age 60!


Advisory board member - PAIGE PATTERSON


My dream trek: I’ve had my dream trek to Kilimanjaro, but maybe Everest base camp.

Most memorable moment on Kili: The photo opportunities, the beautiful clouds, the stars at night, the thrill of reaching the summit.

Something unexpected: I don’t like the cold. I have never done a trek like Kilimanjaro!

Two words to describe my trek: Life changing

Advisory board member - STEPHEN REVARD


My dream trek: Ellesmere Island in the Canadian Arctic Archipelago

Most memorable moment on Kili: Reaching Stella Point was extremely emotional as it was near the anniversary of my mother’s death; her name was Stella.

Most memorable meal: Dinner with the French ambassador to the UN at the Willard Hotel in Washington, D.C. A completely serendipitous evening with a fascinating person who was also the chief assistant to the UN Secretary-General.

Something unexpected: I’m an art museum junkie.

Advisory board member - KEN SAUER


My dream trek: I would love to see the biodiversity in the Galapagos Islands

Most memorable moment on Kili: Of course reaching the summit was monumental but seeing the sunrise that morning was breathtaking. We weren’t quite at the summit but it was still something I’ll never forget. Seeing the crater with other trekkers still in camp helped to give a real perspective as to how far above them we really were.

Most Memorable Meal: While in China adopting our daughter, my wife and I were adopted ourselves by a local medical intern. Chung gave a great tour of Guangzhou, helped us negotiate jade, and showed us where Marco Polo stayed. He took us to a tea house for tea and lunch. He asked if we wanted to try snake and we were willing. Unbeknownst to us Yin and Yang are represented by snake and dog. Apparently one can’t have snake without dog and while we thought we were eating snake Chung explained “that’s not snake….that’s dog. Snake takes longer to cook.” We ate a little more but explained that our dog is a part of the family and sleeps on our bed. He was all to happy to take the leftovers home with him.


Advisory board member - DENNIS MARTIN SMITH


My dream trek: Nepal’s Manaslu Circuit, a 14 to 16 day trek that encircles the world’s 8th highest peak and is a great alternative to the Annapurna Circuit.

Most memorable moment on Kili: Celebrating my birthday at Lava Tower, with the guides and porters singing “Cakie-cake … Cakie-o” adding to the day’s fun.

Most memorable meal: That’s easy. Singapore is famously known for its Hawker Centres and its international cuisine. With all of its wonderful food choices, I had my most memorable meal in Singapore’s Little India. Roti prata 2.00-SGD … so good.

Two words to describe my trek: Dream fulfilled