When Omar Samra isn’t running one of the few genuinely eco-friendly and socially responsible tourism outfits in Egypt called Wild Guanabana, he climbs mountains. Big ones. He was the first Egyptian to summit Mt. Everest in 2007 and by the end of 2012, if he secures the necessary sponsorships, he will also be the first from his country to reach the top of the world’s seven highest peaks – including the formidable Mt. McKinley in Alaska. If you’re aren’t already impressed by the man who graduated from the London School of Business but eschewed a life of high finance life for something more soulful, maybe this will help: all of Samra’s journeys are carbon neutral.
Hoda Baraka from Egypt Independent, the artist who brought the colorful wonders of Nubian life to the attention of greater Egypt, reports that Samra is currently seeking sponsorships for the last of the seven peaks in North America.
He reached the top of Mt. Vinson Massif in Antarctica in January last year, and the highest peak in South America, the 22,841 foot Mt. Aconcagua the year before that.
In 2009, Samra climbied to the top of Indonesia’s Carstensz Pyramid and in 2008, a busy year for the tireless entrepreneur, he completed both Mt. Elbows in Russia and Tanzania’s famous white-tipped Mt. Kilimanjaro.
Climate change in high places
Throughout his journey, however, Samra has been attuned to the effects that climate change is having on the pristine environments that he has so successfully conquered. Kilimanjaro, for example, has been losing its icy tip as a result of higher temperatures and scientists say its only a matter of time before it disappears altogether.
And officials who run Denali National Park in Alaska, of which the 20,320 foot Mt. McKinley is a central feature, has limited traffic to just 1500 climbers a year in order to prevent widespread environmental destruction of the majestic mountain.
“What we do is calculate the carbon emissions resulting from the expedition itself, which include flights, power consumed, transport and accommodation and this gives us the total amount of CO2 emissions,” Samra told Egypt Independent.
And then when they have purchased enough credits from the market to offset their emissions, the credits are retired and a certificate is issued that declares the expedition carbon neutral.
Although many environmentalists see carbon credits as another way to justify excess consumption, Samra hopes that his carbon trades will support existing and encourage more green projects throughout the world.
Partnering with Dubai-based “Advanced Global Trading,” the publicly-visible adventurer believes he is spreading an important environmental message.
He is the second true adventurer with ties to the Middle East and North Africa region whose personal goals intersect the greater environmental good. The first – David de Rothschild – built a boat out of plastic and sailed it across the Pacific.
In the meantime, Samra hopes to eventually join an elite club of roughly 25 people around the world who complete the “Grand Slam,” which includes submitting the 7 highest peaks on each continent, which is well within his reach with just one mountain to go, and skiing to both the North and South poles.
images via Omar Samra’s personal Facebook page
More on travel and nature in the Middle East: