The Captains’ Climb
23 September, 2010
The Captains’ Climb


Russell Isaac does not need special presentation to the Georgian public – he used to work here for quite a while as a media consultant to OSCE in the Samachablo Region of Georgia (a.k.a. South Ossetia) and the news consultant to the management of Channel One. Together with our mutual friend Sergo Buiglishvili (Baski), he managed to completely reconstruct the news presentation format at the leading TV station of Georgia and reorganized it technically.

Russell is the founder, owner and CEO

of SMS movie and video company in Wales, producing documentaries and effecting video coverage for various sports events around the world. The other day, I was fortunate enough to see him during a little family get-together at Baski’s place. The first thing after having exchanged the excited hellos was that Russell told me he was just back from Kilimanjaro. He said this as if he was back from work or from another party, at the most. And I almost missed the gist of the story he wanted to share with me. Before he could say Jack Robinson, I came to my senses, and repeated loudly – ‘Kilimanjaro? What do you mean ‘Kilimanjaro’?  And there went the story, which I was unbelievably lucky to  hear and then to pen down in this article.

Huw Evans is a famous Welshman whose wife Sue was diagnosed with lung cancer. Huw initiated the expedition to climb the Kilimanjaro Summit – the aim tough, but possible to achieve, as it was qualified before embarking on actual venture. His idea was to put Wales’s rugby captains on the famous mount with an eventual target to raise one million pounds for the lung cancer research. Our friend Russell Isaac volunteered to participate in the expedition and he was accepted. He was young enough (55) for the risky undertaking, in a perfect physical shape and morally ready to go ahead. Incidentally, his wife also wanted to go but the family routine and the kids’ regular schedule would not allow her to. The expedition was named ‘The Captains’ Climb’. This is a group of ex Wales’s rugby captains who climbed Mt Kilimanjaro in Tanzania in aid of Cancer Research at Velindre Hospital in Wales. The captains were joined by many other lucky members of the public, business people and medical professionals, all with the same goal in mind - to reach the summit and raise £ 1m to fund the research into lung cancer. Among the valiant volunteers there was Russell, as I said. It was not an easy thing to do, but it was more than worth doing for such an elevated purpose. The expedition took only 10 days (September 6-16, 2010) to get to the summit, but many long weeks of hard exercise and training. Participants of the venture had to go through tough medical check-ups, complicated blood counts, oxygenated blood training, acclimatization procedures and what not. Initially there were 58 of them, but only 29 managed to reach the summit. And out of the chosen 16 captains only 11 made it. There were seven women in the heroic team, of who only three saw the summit’s gorgeousness. Two doctors were with the team permanently, taking care of the amateur but very brave climbers. Sickness in the stomach was a commonplace thing and the bowel movement was not as convenient as it could have been at home, but the difficult adventure did not leave any room for any embarrassments whatsoever. Finally they approached the destination. The last kilometer was very tough, but the remaining 200 meters even tougher. They were moving at the slowest possible pace towards the victory, making robotic steps rhythmically but literally at a snail’s pace. And all that was taking place in darkness which could not have been cut through without head-set torches. Russell’s water pack got frozen but worrying about dehydration made a definite sense – the most cherished and dramatic moment was almost there. Missing it would be a shame. He put the pack under his arm to warm it up a little with his body temperature just to be on the safe side. Only several meters were left to go, and bingo! There they were at that surreal destination – the summit Gilman’s Point of Mount Kilimanjaro, the 10 million year old volcano. It was right in front of them, right on their palms: spectacular mountains and glaciers, and believe it or not, the curvature of earth. As Russell told me, he did not feel at that moment that he was on our Planet.

The venture ended successfully and a million-pound fund-raiser has almost achieved its goal – half of it yet, but cash continues vigorously flowing in. I can imagine how good the feeling is. The lucky participants of the expedition have probably been overwhelmed with a sensation of real heroism – you put your life at stake because you want to help out your fellow citizens. What a great example for those who have never been part of that kind of culture.
Meanwhile, Russell Isaac is putting together a new venture of similar character. Go ahead and click on: 737challenge – seven summits, three poles, seven months - to see what he is getting ready for. Good luck to Russell and to people like him. The world is made only better with their help.

Mount Kilimanjaro is the highest freestanding mountain  in north-eastern Tanzania of Africa as well as the 4th most prominent mountain in the world, rising 5,893 meters or 19,334 ft above sea level.

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