Here at I/O Merino we hold Tommy Danger and The More than Just Me (MTJMe) Foundation very close to our hearts. Not only are they lovers of everything adventure, they use this passion to, as they would say, ‘Be Bigger than Themselves’. They’ve dedicated their lives to raising awareness and funds to help support people who need it the most. And they just happen to be having quite a good time themselves while they’re at it.
MTJMe use all kinds of adventures to help keep the homeless warm, provide proper education for orphaned children, and raise funds for cancer. But they’re currently undertaking their biggest challenge yet. Tommy Danger, his adventure loving friend Mark Nolan and film maker John Burkett are attempting to climb the seven highest peaks in the world, and along the way they’re aiming to raise $1 million for those affected by Cystic Fibrosis.
The team have already conquered Mt Kilimanjaro (19,341 feet) in South Africa, Mt. Elbrus (18,510 feet) in Russia and most recently Aconcagua (22,837 feet) in South America. Tommy loves the thrill he gets from an adventure. And so far, the thrill from climbing Aconcagua has been the biggest yet. He says, “I’ve always loved an adventure, and pushing my body and mind to the edge. I knew I needed this rush just to feel alive”.
They’ve just returned home to the US from Aconcagua with some seriously awesome, (and maybe not so awesome), stories to tell, and the nickname of ‘The Rapido Americanos’ (The Fast Americans) due to the speed of their ascent. Tommy says they spent their days being battered, blistered, bruised, dehydrated, sunburnt and burning an average of 8,000 calories a day while replacing it with just 1,500 calories – if they were lucky.
On top of that, team member John Burkett had a very close call when he started suffering from HACE (High Altitude Cerebral Edema) on the descent. As Tommy explains, “Aconcagua is known for its ability to create HAPE (High Altitude Pulminary Edmea) and HACE. A lot of people don’t understand the risk of climbing these mountains and we take a calculated risk every time we attempt a peak that is made for no man to breathe nor sleep on. We’ve been lucky to stay healthy most of the time, but luck is a fickle animal and on the way down John was overcome with HACE – a medical condition in which the brain swells with fluid because of the physiological effects of traveling to a high altitude.”
Thankfully John and the team made it down safely, and Tommy adds, “it was nice to sleep in beds, put some weight back on, and drink as much water as we wanted to without filtering it then sterilizing or boiling it”.
To help keep warm when the weather was cold and cool when the weather was milder, the team were decked out in a selection of our premium I/O Merino thermal base layers. We know our MicroMerino® gear is awesome for many things such as temperature regulation, anti-chafe, stink-resistance, (even after an expedition like this!), and has a seriously soft next to skin feel. But after MTJMe’s trip to Aconcagua, we’re now introduced to another Merino benefit. Tommy says the team mostly wore their I/O Merino neck tubes to prevent dust getting into their lungs, and keep them battling up those mighty mountains.
When asked ‘Why Cystic Fibrosis?’, Tommy made it clear he didn’t need to have a close experience with the disease to want to support such a worthy cause. He said, “You, your family, your pets, and everyone surrounding you are a part of my family. This means my family suffers everyday whether it’s from Cystic Fibrosis, starvation, homelessness, lack of education, paediatric cancer, and so many other causes. Every day we lose thousands of our family too soon because of something we can come together and help, and possibly even cure”.
Up next, the MTJMe team are taking on the mighty Alaskan Mt. McKinley (20,320 feet), where temperatures are known to drop below -140 degrees. So, of course, they’ll be stocking up on I/O Merino to ensure they stay warm, comfortable and ready for whatever Mt. McKinley can throw at them.