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!

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DAVID ADAMSON

My dream trek: Bhutan

Most memorable moment on Kili: Walking the last 100 yards to the summit of Kilimanjaro with my son.

Most unforgettable meal: Balut (a developing duck embryo that is eaten in the shell) in the Philippines. Followed by 2 shots of whiskey!

Something unexpected: I hitchhiked by myself from Nairobi to Johannesburg at age 23.

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LISA BALDWIN

My dream trek: Climbing in Nepal or trekking in Bhutan

Most memorable meal: Anything vegan that doesn’t have peanuts. Lentils, rice and lots of spice and if it includes an avocado, I couldn’t ask for more.

Something unexpected: I love comic books, I’m obsessed with Rugby Sevens, and I can’t whistle, seriously, not even a little.

Two words to describe my trek: Life changing

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MAX BENOLIEL

My dream trek: Everest Base Camp. I’d love to experience the energy, excitement & anxiety of teams as they prepare to reach the top of the world.

Most memorable meal: I am kosher and Thomson prepared all vegetarian meals for me. The best meal was falafel and ham, which would never go in a kosher household! The ham was for my friends and falafel for me. Kosher, vegetarian, hindu, halal… Thomson will accommodate.

Something unexpected: Training to climb mountains in Miami Beach, FL is not easy. I think I was the first person with hiking boots and a 40 lb. backpack walking on the soft sand beaches in 80 degree weather training for Kili.


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SUSAN BERNDT

My dream trek: Trekking in Sweden, Switzerland and Denmark

Most memorable moment on Kili: Digging deep within myself on summit night repeating a 1000 times: be happy, be positive, be strong and my daughter says I can reach the highest point in Africa!

Something unexpected: Held the high jump record in my Excelsior Springs, MO high school for 31 years!

Two words to describe my trek: Fulfilling journey!

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LEARY BONNETT

My dream trek: Kili was my dream trek. I would also venture to climb Machu Picchu in Peru.

Most memorable moment on Kili: Scrambling across the Barranco Wall.

Something unexpected: I am the founder and CEO of a non-profit organization named Silence the Guns that seeks to address violence in any form, especially gun violence among urban youth. My trek to Kili was to raise funds for the organization.

Two words to describe my trek: Unbelievably awesome

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KAREN CAPALDI

My dream trek: Iceland with the Northern Lights

Most memorable moment on Kili: Walking and talking with the porters about their lives and their job. It really didn’t matter if I made it to the top; they were the magic.​

Something unexpected: I’ve been part of a relay event in Colorado with an all woman team for the past 5 years. We run 200 miles nonstop over some of the most beautiful terrain in Colorado. Our team name? RunNightStand.

Two words to describe my trek: Gratitude and love

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ANNE DICKINSON

My dream trek: Nepal and/or Bhutan

Most memorable moment on Kili: Reaching the summit and absorbing the accomplishment and the view.

Most memorable meal: Agua na Boca in Salema Portugal. The grass fed beef and everything else we ate there was 1000% phenomenal.

Something unexpected: I finished the last two miles of the 2012 Boston Marathon (the brutally hot one) in stocking feet after a blister on my foot popped and made continuing in shoes impossible. The potential options were to quit or finish in socks. Quitting wasn’t an option in my mind.

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STEVEN DOW

My dream trek: A month in the Peruvian Andes

Most memorable moment on Kili: Reaching the top of the crater, seeing the sun rise, and hearing a member of our group retching loudly in the background!

Most memorable meal: At base camp on Kilimanjaro, amazing food at 15,000 feet.

Something unexpected: I enjoy both active sports (white water kayaking, bike racing, hockey) and gardening (vegetables, wildflowers.)

Shelby Elliott

SHELBY ELLIOTT

My dream trek: Kilimanjaro was my dream trek and I might choose it again! In the U.S., perhaps the Appalachian Trail.

Most memorable moment on Kili: The first time I woke up to a sunrise and only saw the clouds.

Something unexpected: This was the first hiking trek I had ever done!

Two words to describe my trek: Awesome – in the truest sense of the word. Amazing.

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ANDY LIU

My dream trek: Current dream trek is Patagonia, or maybe New Zealand or…

Most memorable moment on Kili: Night sky over Kili at Lava Tower – stars and Milky Way.

Something unexpected: I’m a rocket scientist/space enthusiast. I had a chance to experience 0-g in parabolic flight and get someone else to pay for it.

Two words to describe my trek: Pure enjoyment!


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DONNA LUX

My dream trek: I’d do Kilimanjaro again! Second choice – Everest Base Camp or Machu Picchu.

Most memorable moment on Kili: Leaving Barafu camp before sunrise, then watching the sun as we were headed to the summit!

Most memorable meal: Dinner at “Le Jules Verne” in Paris. The meal was fantastic as was the view!

Something unexpected: I’ve done approximately 300 scuba dives and 5 sky dives.

Hally Mccrea

HALLY MCCREA

My dream trek: The Tour du Mont Blanc; a challenge in comfort.

Most memorable moment on Kili: My first glimpse of Uhuru Peak through the snow. A 39 year old goal accomplished; stupendous!

Most memorable meal: The succulent beef and fresh tasting vegetables at Gibbs Farm during our tour of the Ngorongoro Crater.

Two words to describe my trek: Challenging and awe-inspiring


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VANESSA O'BRIEN

My dream trek: To climb K2, the second highest mountain in the world, in the Karakoram. It is 28,251 feet tall, just 784 feet lower than Everest which I summited in 2012. There have only been 386 summits of K2, yet not one has been an American woman.

Something unexpected: I was a banker/executive for 20 years before the financial recession changed my career trajectory. I became a Guinness World Record holder for climbing the highest peak on every continent in the shortest period of time for a woman (295 days aka The Seven Summits.)

Two words to describe my trek: Awesome and Fun


Dip Parikh

DIP PARIKH

My dream trek: Everest Base Camp – rewarding enough to begin with and it’d be inspiring to spend time at camp with prospective Everest climbers.

Most memorable meal: Every meal in Thailand is an experience in itself and Nahm in Bangkok was the best of them.

Something unexpected: I live a couple of miles from the Watertown office and my mom’s family has roots in Tanzania that go back almost 50 years…small world indeed!

Two words to describe my trek: Rewarding and caring

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CHUCK RELLER

My dream trek: Tibet and Bhutan. I would like to see the Taktsang Palphug Monastery, the “Tigers Nest” during festival season.

Most memorable moment on Kili: I approached the summit sign elated. A small sticker on it’s post read “One day at a time.” I cried.

Something unexpected: I am an avid free diver and I spearfish. My wife and I owned a small cottage on Cat Cay, an island south of Bimini where the water is 1000 shades of blue, fish are numerous and the lobstering is off the hook.

Two words to describe my trek: Gratitude and transformation

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CHRIS RENAUD

My dream trek: Zermatt or Jungfrau in Switzerland

Most memorable moment on Kili: Reaching Uhuru peak but walking through Mweka Gate knowing that I accomplished something astonishing.

Most memorable meal: The unexpectedly delicious banana stew, approximately day six on Kili.

Something unexpected: I am an amateur musician and I play in two community bands.

Harrison Rohrer

HARRISON ROHRER

My dream trek: Haute Route, which connects Chamonix, France to Zermatt, Switzerland

Most memorable moment on Kili: Opening a pressurized container of hot cocoa powder, only to have it burst and cover me in chocolate.

Something unexpected: A few months after my hike up Kili, I spent a semester in the Bahamas studying marine biology at The Island School. The pair of experiences made for what was certainly the best year of my life so far.

Two words to describe my trek: Powerful and eye-opening

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BRAD SINGER

My dream trek: The Antarctic, to climb the Vinson Massif.

Most memorable moment on Kili: Day one – seeing all 54 members of our Thomson team greet us with dance and song in Swahili!

Something unexpected: I am a late bloomer to outdoor activities. Asthma and a bad knee from football limited how intensely I could participate in sports. I decided to try swimming again at age 49 and haven’t looked back. I’ve swum Alcatraz Island to the San Francisco Bay shore, summited Kilimanjaro, crossed the Grand Canyon twice, climbed Mt. Whitney and am preparing for Mt. Aconcagua in Argentina.


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LAURELIN VAN HOOSE

My dream trek: Machu Picchu in Peru

Most memorable meal: I have Celiac Disease, so eating food that wouldn’t make me sick was a big worry for me. Thomson went above and beyond to make sure I had everything I needed to be healthy and well-fed. The best meal was the night after we summited: nyama choma – Tanzanian grilled steak served with gluten free crepes!

Something unexpected: I am not athletic at all, nor a hiker or camper. My close friends and family were so surprised that I was willing to go 9 days without a shower and climb a mountain. But I do love adventure! And I believe that Kili really is “The Walker’s Mountain.” If I can do it, anyone can!



Ansi Vasudevan

ANSI VASUDEVAN

My dream trek: Of the places I have been – Grand Canyon. Of the places to go – countless…

Most memorable moment on Kili: Reaching the summit. I was thinking that I could not take another step and then a sense of elation and peace.

Most memorable meal: Dining on baked lasagne after the Barranco Wall was priceless.

Something unexpected: I am afraid of heights!!

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LAUREL WERNER

My dream trek: Everest Base Camp! I am trekking Bhutan this year with my husband and I wanted to do Base Camp but he wanted something more relaxing. I do not want to climb Everest, but Base Camp would be very cool.

Most memorable meal: Eating guinea pig in Cusco, Peru after visiting a house where they were all running around the floor like pets.

Something unexpected: I found I had more power and inner strength than I realized. So much so that I want to share with other women, hence the return trip this year with just girlfriends!

Two words to describe my trek: Nzuri sana!! (very good in Swahili!)


MARCUS WOOD

MARCUS WOOD

My dream trek: From Darjeeling, India to Everest Base Camp on the Tibetan side. This would replicate the overland trek that the British climbing teams, including Mallory and then Irvine, did in the early 1920’s.

Most memorable moment on Kili: The incredible sight of the Thomson support team coming up Kili in the dark to help guide our safe descent.

Something unexpected: In 1991, I was the first department store Santa in the history of the city of Asahikawa, and possibly all of Hokkaido, the northern most island of Japan.

Two words to describe my trek: Surprise and wonder