By this time Thursday, rapper/philanthropist [artist id="1163848"]Kenna[/artist] will be leading a group that includes actors [movieperson id="188949"]Jessica Biel[/movieperson], Emile Hirsch and Isabel Lucas and musicians [artist id="2017563"]Lupe Fiasco[/artist] and Santigold on the trip of a lifetime to the top of Mount Kilimanjaro. The ascent of the highest peak in Africa is not a casual vacation among bold-named friends, though, but part of an awareness raising trek called the "Summit on the Summit" aimed at shining a light on the global clean-water crisis.
The group will be joined by a panel of eminent scientists and thinkers who've been working on bringing desperately needed clean water to developing nations around the globe, and their climb will be chronicled in a 90-minute documentary slated to air March 14 at 9 p.m. on MTV.
For the next seven days, the participants will slowly make their way along a 50-mile route to the 19,340-foot peak of the mountain, a journey that will be constantly updated on SummitOnTheSummit.com with tweets, photos and video blogs. During the journey, they will be discussing water issues with the experts, tracking their movement with GPS devices and interacting with followers on Twitter, MySpace and Facebook.
The effort will raise funds for the Children's Safe Drinking Water Program, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and Water for People's Playpump Technology. Visitors to the site can get information about clean-water issues and real-time details on the conditions on the mountain while following the action on heart monitors attached to two of the climbers each day.
"When Kenna called me about joining the team for Summit on the Summit, I could hardly contain my excitement — combining an epic adventure with an educational process on the global water crisis, and finding a creative way to engage people towards an important and charitable cause, this climb is something special I couldn't miss," said Hirsch, who began training for the arduous climb three weeks ago by running stairs in California. "I hope we can inspire as many people as possible in doing this, as well as learn more about the water crisis ourselves, and what we can do in our everyday lives. And put this on the books: I'm making it to the top."
The journey to the top is a personal one for Grammy nominee Kenna, whose father saw the dangers of waterborne illness firsthand as a child when his brother died as a result of the illness. Among those joining him on the trek are Alexandra Cousteau, granddaughter of famed explorer/filmmaker Jacques Cousteau; Elizabeth Gore, executive director for global partnerships for the United Nations Foundation; international development and water expert Simon Isaacs; a pair of award-winning photographers; and environmental activist Kick Kennedy.
The trekkers have all been undergoing intense training for their adventure on the highest freestanding mountain in the world. During the climb, temperatures will go from near 90 degrees on the first day to close to 0 degrees on the last day. On Wednesday (January 6), they gathered in the village of Arusha near the base of the mountain to watch a demonstration of the Pur Water filtration system from Dr. Greg Allgood, director of the Children's Safe Drinking Water Program.
After scooping up some of the dirtiest water in the village and filtering it through the Pur system, the group was sharing clean, drinkable water with the villagers shortly thereafter. It was the first powerful moment on a trip that is sure to be full of drama and discovery for the trekkers, including intense speculation about which, or how many, of them will make it all the way to the top.
We'll be following their progress all week, so keep coming back for updates and interviews with the participants.