For many of us, there's a good chance we've let our childhood dreams of becoming president, circumnavigating the globe, or saving endangered animals, gradually meet their demise. But for Jermaine Middleton, a Georgia-based Director of Operations, his long-standing dream of climbing Mount Everest could soon become a reality in just a matter of months. In September of this year, Middleton will attempt to climb Mount Everest, the highest mountain on Earth.
In addition to knocking out a personal goal, conquering the mountain would make Middleton the first African American man born in the United States to reach the top of Mount Everest, which is an anxiety-inducing 29,000 feet high.
Although Middleton jokingly credits never growing up for his continuous desire to want to conquer Mount Everest, he's chosen to use the publicity he's received to create Summit413 and shed light on three organizations that aim to help children. Those organizations are Children's Healthcare of Atlanta, the Atlanta Dream Center and Four Corners Group.
Read all about Middleton's past adventures, his passion for volunteerism and more in this interview with OMNoire.
OMNoire: When did the idea to climb Mount Everest come about for you?
Jermaine Middleton: It's kind of one of those things I wanted to do since I was a kid. And as an adult, I had planned on doing it at 40. And then last year is when I had a conversation that kinda sparked doing it in 2019. That's been something that's been a lifelong thing.
OMN: For a lot of us as kids, we have these amazing goals to climb Mount Everest or something really bold, what motivated you to actually keep that goal?
JM: I never grew up. That's easy. Fortunately and unfortunately.
OMN: What mountains have you climbed in the past?
JM: Notable ones would be Mont Blanc. That's the highest peak in Western Europe. I've climbed two of the Seven Summits at this point. I've climbed Kilimanjaro and Aconcagua in Argentina. And then I've also climbed Mount Whitney, which is the highest peak in the lower 48 of the U.S. And then I've climbed Mount Baker.
OMN: Which one of those mountains is most similar in experience to climbing Mount Everest?
JM: I wouldn't say any one in particular. I'd say components of each one. So, for instance,
Mont Blanc and Mount Baker, they're glaciated peaks. You're going over crevasses and that
kind of stuff, which is similar to Everest. Obviously they're bigger on Everest. But then
the altitude and elevation of Aconcagua is closer to that of Everest. So, not any one
component of either of those. But if you can combine the different things, you can kind of
get a good [idea] of the challenges of Everest.
OMN: Being that you live in Georgia and you plan on climbing Everest in September, how do you prepare in a state that has mountains, but not anywhere near the scale of Everest?
JM: It's not one of the great things about Georgia. A lot of that preparation just comes from
traveling to other places in the world and climbing. I hope to be climbing some more of
the Seven Summits this year. That'll [add to] training...You can do certain things at home. Obviously, my fitness routine is something that I can do at home or no matter where I am.
There's also other tools and resources that you can use. For instance, you have altitude tents. And basically sleeping in one of those is the same as sleeping on a mountain at 15,000 feet. That helps your body prepare for the altitude even though you're in Georgia or at sea level somewhere.
OMN: Do you have any idea why it's taken so long for there to be an African American male willing to climb Mount Everest?
JM: I think that's one of those things that we just don't necessarily like to do. For a number
of different reasons. Whether it's exposure or overall desire. I don't feel like a lot of
people like to mountaineer or be out in the outdoors in general. If you look at the
percentage of the population that does it, regardless of race. So, when you put that into
just black people and what we have access to and all that stuff, it just kinda shrinks
down more. Having exposure to that is one of the big things.
OMN: When did the idea to combine this with charity come about?
JM: That's just kind of a big part of who I am. I've been big into volunteerism for the past
decade at this point. Just realizing how fortunate I am or have been personally. Whether
it's my family or the opportunities I've had or just having a great support system. And I
realize that not every kid has that. And I wanted to try to be in a position to help
anybody that I can when I have the opportunity to.
So for me, having this platform, how can I leverage that to benefit others...I've partnered with Children's Healthcare of Atlanta, the Atlanta Dream Center and Four Corners Group. They're all basically geared primarily around children and helping them live better lives. I thought that was important and something I would want to do through this experience.