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!

Kilimanjaro advisory board member

ALLEN "AL" ANDERSON

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!

Kilimanjaro 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.

Kilimanjaro advisory board member

JULIE BARTON

My dream trek: To go to ALL the Scandinavian countries via a small ship so we could explore all the small fiords from the water and then hike on the land.

Most memorable moment on Kili: When our group arrived at the peak, with the support, encouragement and cheering of our personal porters and our leaders.

Most memorable meal: Ceviche, eaten on the Galapagos Islands, prepared by the wife of the engineer of our catamaran, at their lovely home.

Two words to describe my trek: Challenging and spiritual

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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

Kilimanjaro 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!

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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.

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.

Kilimanjaro 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.

Kilimanjaro 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

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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!

Kilimanjaro 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."

Kilimanjaro 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

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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

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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

Kilimanjaro 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

Kilimanjaro advisory board member

HAZEL REED

My dream trek: Europe. Preferably France or Italy.

Most memorable moment on Kili: Reaching Stella Point and looking across at Uhuru Peak and knowing the goal would be accomplished. Relief and exhilaration!

Most memorable meal: Freshly caught and cooked lobster on the beach at Anegada, British Virgin Islands.

Something unexpected: After turning 50, I went from unadventurous to adventurous, nonathletic to avid runner.

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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.

Kilimanjaro 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.

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

Brad Singer

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.

Kilimanjaro 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

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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!

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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