The dramatic journey to the summit of Mt. Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, Africa, to raise awareness about the global clean-water crisis will be documented in an MTV special titled "Summit on the Summit: Kilimanjaro." The 90-minute documentary, which will air at 9 p.m. ET on March 14, follows musicians Kenna, Santigold and Lupe Fiasco, actors Jessica Biel, Emile Hirsch and Isabel Lucas and a group of scientists and activists on their journey to the top of the highest peak in Africa as they learn about water issues and climb through snow, sleet, rain and treacherous terrain on their way to 19,340 feet.
While the January climb was chronicled on SummitOnTheSummit.com through tweets, photos and video in real time, the documentary will provide never-before-seen footage and insight into the climb while spotlighting the urgency of water issues.
"MTV has a long history of educating its audience to raise awareness on issues that are important to them," Dave Sirulnick, MTV Multiplatform, News and Docs executive vice president, said in a statement. "More than 1 billion people worldwide do not have access to safe, clean drinking water. By airing this documentary, MTV hopes to mobilize a new generation of young people who may not be aware of this global cause to take action and get involved in helping find solutions to the water crisis."
Battling crippling altitude headaches, freezing temperatures, sore bodies and soaking wet clothes and boots, the group trekked their way up the mountain, pushing themselves and each other to make the summit.
"When I was younger, my dad pointed out Kilimanjaro on a huge atlas. It stood in my mind as one of the wonders of the world," said trip leader Kenna, who was determined to reach the summit on his second try. "This climb is dedicated to my father. As a child in Ethiopia, he lost his brother and lost his friends and family to water-borne diseases. A billion people in the world don't have clean water. I had to do something about it. For me it's personal. I could have been one of those kids. I needed to come up with something that would command attention. And the only thing I could think of that was that massive was climbing Kilimanjaro."
From a dramatic demonstration in a steamy Tanzanian village at the foot of the mountain, where the climbers watched first-hand as sludgy brown liquid was turned into drinkable water using the PUR water filtration system, to their bone-chilling final assault on the summit, the documentary traces the climbers' dramatic path up the iconic mountain.
In addition to raising awareness about water issues, the climb also raised funds for the Children's Safe Drinking Water Program, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), and Water for People's PlayPumps Technology.
"I know all of you want to be at the top of this mountain," Kenna told the trekkers as they neared the summit and conditions got so treacherous that they were warned about their corneas possibly freezing. "But your safety comes first."
Reflecting on the journey, the Grammy-nominated musician said, "I think it's honestly something more powerful than any of us could imagine."
Among the other participants on the climb are: Alexandra Cousteau (National Geographic Emerging Explorer and granddaughter of famed explorer and filmmaker Jacques-Yves Cousteau), Elizabeth Gore (executive director for Global Partnerships for the United Nations Foundation), Simon Isaacs (international development and water expert), award-winning photographers Michael Muller and Jimmy Chin, Kick Kennedy (environmental activist and granddaughter of Robert Kennedy), Bernise Ang (social entrepreneur and recipient of the YouthActionNet Award and Fellowship from the International Youth Foundation), Dr. Greg Allgood (director of the Children's Safe Drinking Water Program at Procter & Gamble), mountaineering expert Melissa Arnot and renowned trainer Jason Walsh.
Tune in to "Summit on the Summit: Kilimanjaro" on March 14 at 9 p.m. ET on MTV.