KILIMANJARO – GUIDES, CHEFS & CREW
Song & Dance Team
The visibility is practically non-existent as an opaque mist shrouds the climbers, but Tusker’s smiling crew acts as if it’s a sunny day at the base of Kilimanjaro. In their heavy jackets and ski caps it’s just another day at the office atop Africa in the deep freeze. Yet they are singing and dancing exhorting the climbers up the mountain. Their energy is infectious, one Tusker climber starts shimming to their musical vibe.
WATCH: Who Takes You There
National Geographic’s Will Lyman establishes the video’s theme with his well-known voice, “Tusker’s edge lies in its highly trained mountain guides, a hand-picked and trained by Tusker founder Eddie Frank.”
Eddie’s passion for team building is a no-nonsense strategic endeavor. His Kilimanjaro guides are seated around a table as he discusses high altitude health issues. A video is playing on the wall and their study guides are open before them. A life-death seriousness hangs in the room. “Let’s be quick, we are approaching 15,000 feet. We can have breathing problems, we can have brain problems, and they can all be connected,” Eddie says.
Eddie is a certified Wilderness First Responder who has spent over a decade updating his mountain medical expertise and sharing it with his guides. He takes a super serious approach to medical equipment. A tight shot of a red portable altitude chamber with Eddie asking his guides, “When is the last time you checked this one.” The PAC is inflated, Eddie checks it and smiles.
Practice drills are part of Eddie’s guide training regime. A guide lays on a stretcher surrounded by fellow guides who lift him. “He is vomiting turn him over on his side. Take him around this tree twice and take it slowly. If you rush too much you can injure the patient.”
Testimonials from climbers on the mountain attest to the guide’s care and training. Francois Langlois gets a physical from “Dr. Eddie” who uses a stethoscope to assess Francois’ lungs before the start of the day’s climb. “I haven’t seen this level of care elsewhere,” he says before Eddie gives him the-good-to-go thumbs up. A rain soaked trekker is encouraged to change his clothes and have some warm tea by the crew. A sense of care is evident and Eddie explains to a fellow climber, “It’s in the culture,” not meaning the Tusker corporate culture but in his African guides’ DNA.
It’s All About the Food
A Culinary Institute of America chef in a white toque is surrounded by Tusker’s chefs. He teaches them the importance of having the sharpest knifes when cutting meat and other techniques they will need in the field. Tusker’s chefs learn from the best and the proof is in the finished product. Quick cut to sizzling fajitas at 15,000 feet and hungry trekkers eating with relished enthusiasm.
Smoked Alaskan Salmon topped with caviar is a culinary vision in a four star restaurant much less on the slopes of Kilimanjaro, but the Tusker chefs pull it off. Eddie understates,”I always design trips to give people more than what they think they are going to get.”
Will Lyman, master of the perfect narration, deserves the final say. “They (the crew) allow climbers the confidence to fully immerse themselves in the challenges and the spectacle that is Kilimanjaro.”