Colorado Climber Launches Three-Year Expedition for Water and Sanitation Solutions

Jake Norton will take on Triple Seven Summits challenge to raise awareness

Internationally acclaimed mountain climber Jake Norton has climbed some of the most stunning peaks around the world, helped discover the remains of George Mallory on Mount Everest and guided others to reach the summits. Beginning on Earth Day 2011, Norton is attempting to do something no climber has yet done so that more people throughout the developing world can gain access to safe drinking water and improved sanitation.

By summer 2014, Norton is hoping to be the first to have climbed the Triple Seven Summits, or the three highest peaks on each continent. Along the way, he will call attention to the close to one billion people worldwide in need of safe drinking water and the 2.6 billion people without adequate toilets.

A climber since 1986, Norton said he has long felt called to use his career on some of the highest peaks in the world to do something to make the world a better place.

Having already climbed Mount Everest, Mount Kilimanjaro and Mount McKinley, among others in the 21 Triple Seven peaks, Norton will head to Africa in August to climb two summits he has yet to do: Mount Kenya and Mount Stanley. After that, every four to six months, conditions permitting, he plans to climb the remaining peaks on his list. The final two expeditions will be K2 in Pakistan, scheduled for summer 2013, and Kanchenjunga in Nepal, slated for spring 2014. All Challenge21 expeditions will be outfitted by Eddie Bauer and First Ascent, one of Norton's sponsors; they also will cover the expeditions through their media channels.

The philanthropic goal of the 21-peak expedition is to raise at least $2.1 million and get 2.1 million new people following the project and rallying around the need for safe water and sanitation. The proceeds raised will be dedicated to Water For People’s water and sanitation programs in 10 developing countries, said Norton’s wife and Challenge21 co-founder, Wende Valentine, Water For People’s major gifts officer.

Ultimately, Challenge21’s success will not be about marking off a checklist of summits, Norton and Valentine said. Like Water For People’s projects, it will be ambitious, but grounded in accountability, partnership, thoughtfulness and commitment. “The goal will be to try to reach all the summits. But if I decide to turn around 20 ft from the summit of a given peak - for safety or other reasons - but still awaken thousands to the water and sanitation crisis, that's success to me," Norton said.

Water For People

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