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

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 - ELIZABETH BARRETT KEARNEY

ELIZABETH BARRETT KEARNEY

My dream trek: Kilimanjaro was a dream come true, but now I’d love to hike the Camino de Santiago in Spain.

Most memorable moment on Kili: Watching a very rare (and breathtaking) lunar eclipse with my new husband at Karanga Camp during our honey”moon”.

Most memorable meal: Fresh mussels straight from the water handed to me (with a squirt of lemon) by a fishmonger in Istanbul.

Something unexpected: I worked for the National Geographic Society for six years.

Advisory board member - CORBAN BELL

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 - LENA BENT

LENA BENT

My dream trek: Kili – there’s just something about Africa that made this extremely special. Another: Aconcagua in Argentina!

Most memorable moment on Kili: In the kitchen tent with my group and guides, laughing until I had tears in my eyes.

Most memorable meal: Delicious homemade chocolate chip granola bars saved from the day before. The best I’ve ever had and I was so happy to find one in my pocket! It gave me the energy to make it to Uhuru Peak.

Something unexpected: I volunteered in South Africa for three months after college and moved there for work after! I loved it and met many people who trekked Kilimanjaro, inspiring me to do it!

Advisory board member - RONELLE BERLIN

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 - RICK BISCHOFF

RICK BISCHOFF

My dream trek: Nepal with my son and daughter and at least to Base Camp at Everest.

Most memorable moment on Kili: The night of the summit. Reaching the summit of Kilimanjaro with my son and daughter was such a special moment. It is one that we will all remember for the rest of our lives.

Most memorable meal: Guinea pig in Cusco, Peru.

Something unexpected: I have run 25 marathons.

Advisory board member - STEPHEN CHRISS

STEPHEN CHRISS

My dream trek: Kilimanjaro! My list also includes Macchu Pichu, Patagonia, New Zealand, Iceland and Morocco.

Most memorable moment on Kili: It is the entire experience of Kili that culminates in it being a once in a lifetime experience… from the Thomson airport greeting to lunch after the Mountain and the spectacular journey in between. Truly amazing!

Most memorable meal: Snorkeling in a deserted Cay of Exhuma, Bahamas:the fresh conch meat salad just captured from our dive. Sea to Beach to Mouth – Yum!

Something unexpected: I continue to surprise myself and others about who I am. At 52 years old, I’m still learning much about life and living it to the fullest.

Advisory board member - MIRIAM CHUNG

MIRIAM CHUNG

My dream trek: Upper Mustang/Dolpo region or Gokyo Lakes in Nepal. 

Most memorable moment on Kili: Reaching the summit and hugging my husband.

Most memorable meal: Eating warm soup near Stella Point after trekking for over 6 hours in the cold and wind. So grateful for the staff (cooks, porters, guides) who surprised us with the best soup ever.

Two words to describe my trek: Empowering and humbling

Advisory board member - BEN CURRAN

BEN CURRAN

My dream trek: Either a lengthy part of the Appalachian Trail or to hike Ras Dashen (14,930 ft) in the Simien Mountains of northern Ethiopia.

Most memorable moment on Kili: Singing the Tanzanian anthem, Mungu Ibariki Tanzania (God Bless Tanzania) at the summit or listening to reggae music with porters at 16,000 feet.

Something unexpected: After having lived in Tanzania for four years as a child and going to boarding school in the Usambara Mountains not too far from Kilimanjaro, I plan on returning to work there in the relief and development arena.

Two words to describe my trek: Mambo Poa or Sawa sawa  — variations of pretty cool.

Advisory board member - MICHAEL HAYASHI

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: Sushi chef Yasuda at Yasuda in NYC. Best Kaiseki: By chef Niki Matsumoto of n/Naka in Culver City, CA. Most memorable meal: tapas 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

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 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 how could I say no? As we ascended, I felt nauseous and of all things-had difficulty eating. When I felt like I couldn’t continue, 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 - STEPHANIE HENRY

STEPHANIE HENRY

My dream trek: Nepal

Most memorable moment on Kili: Summit day! Besides reaching Uhuru, I watched the almost full moon go down over Uhuru peak and the sunrise over Meru! Stunning!

Most memorable meal: I am definitely not a foodie and I truly only remember meals that I didn’t like. That said, all of the meals on our trek were fantastic with plenty of options. The soups every day were especially tasty.

Something unexpected: I am new to trekking. Kili was my first big trek!

Two words to describe my trek: Inspiring and Spiritual

Advisory board member - PATTI KALAL

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 - MARC LEWIS

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

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: It started raining near the top of Barranco Wall. We met the crew at the top for lunch. It rained so hard, we couldn’t eat outside, so the crew quickly 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

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 - ROBERT MEDEARIS

ROBERT MEDEARIS

My dream trek: Among the Himalayas in Nepal to Everest Base Camp

Most memorable moment on Kili: My wife and I are comfortable in mountain terrain including the Barranco Wall. As we started up we hooted and hollered with excitement, which quickly caught on among all. As we ascended a direct route we surprised many of the porters and guides with our enthusiasm.

Most memorable meal: Traveling on business to Urumqi within the Xinjaian province of China I attended a formal banquet where the chief carted out a whole and fully cooked goat with horns and all. What a presentation!

Something unexpected: I fear heights.

 

Advisory board member - ELIZABETH MONTELEONE

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. A shack, it has the best ceviche and the fish is caught daily in the bay you sit next to. Dishes are simple and fresh, the beach has hammocks and palm trees, the water is calm and perfect for snorkeling. It makes you want to stay there forever.

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

 

Advisory board member - MICHAEL MORSE

MICHAEL MORSE

My dream trek: Machu Picchu

Most memorable moment on Kili: Gazing at the golden sunlit hill at the end of summit day…when I knew we had made it.

Most memorable meal: The Mexican omelet while trekking Kili.

Something unexpected: I build Djembes and teach African drumming.

Two words to describe my trek: Ultimate Satisfaction

Advisory board member - KEN SAUER

KEN SAUER

My dream trek: To see the biodiversity in the Galapagos Islands

Most memorable moment on Kili: Reaching the summit was monumental but seeing the sunrise was breathtaking. We weren’t quite at the summit but I’ll never forget it. Seeing the crater with 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, took us to a tea house and asked if we wanted to try snake and we did. 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 but explained that our dog is a part of the family and sleeps on our bed. He was all too happy to take the leftovers home.