Energy Diet

Being A Mule

Wow, this last week has been tiring to say the very least! Let me tell you, hauling 35+ pounds above 22,000 feet is not my, or I imagine anyone’s, idea of a good time; but it is what mountaineers perversely refer to as fun and exactly what I had to do to climb to the top of the Americas alone.

Like my last post, I am going to reflect on my time on the mountain from an energy standpoint, which is obviously not a typical week for me, and then focus on regular life in Egypt, which given recent events, has been highly irregular!

Like most people outside of Egypt, my information thus far has been through the media, friends and family, so I cannot claim any expertise. Yet I am happy to say that I have cut my trip short and am finally jumping on a flight tomorrow (which I offset!) to be where I belong.

Let’s back up a little… it’s January 28, and I still had no idea of the events unfolding in Egypt for 3 days. Communication was sparse, and I was simply engrossed juggling alternate plans to attempt the summit. Things looked reasonably good when suddenly one piece of information changed everything and brought me back to sea level.

Four days of historic and unprecedented events came pouring in one harsh dose. Mixed feelings is an understatement. I felt proud of my countrymen for standing for what they believe in, sad for not being part of it and I worried for family and loved ones. Where does this leave me and the expedition I had prepared so diligently for? I seriously considered turning back, but finally decided to remain and finish what I had started, do what I do best, and raise Egypt’s flag high. And so, despite 70 mile-an-hour winds, a destroyed tent and throwing up from sheer exhaustio,n I made it to the top alone. My energy consumption for the week? ZERO.

Back in Egypt’s capital of Cairo during a regular week, the notoriously heavy traffic makes speeding a challenge, so I am usually at least 20 kilometers (or 12 miles) per hour below the speed limit. Over 90 percent of my driving is from my flat to the office five days a week, which is roughly 10 kilometers (6 miles) a day both ways. I drive a low-consumption 1.5 liter engine Mitsubishi Lancer which, combined with negligible cargo and brand-new inflated and tested tires, keeps transportation energy consumption very low. The tires I have now happen to be new, but like with the old ones I’ll make sure they are inspected monthly.

On weekends I will walk to most places rather than drive, otherwise carpooling is the way to go. As I said before, I’m happy to say that my flight to Argentina has been offset through an energy efficient stoves project in Kenya (and through the company I founded Wild Guanabana we are working on establishing an eligible project in Egypt) and given the Carbon Zero status of the company, all work related travel this year will be subsequently offset.


  1. Christina
    February 7, 2011, 6:23 pm

    Congratulations on an amazing feat, Omar! I hope that you have a smooth trip back to Cairo and are able to stay safe. I think your offset efforts are great and would love to hear about the project that you choose for this purpose in Egypt if/when you find one.

  2. Tom Sahagian
    February 8, 2011, 9:19 pm

    I have friends in Cairo who have been hunkered down these last several days, but fortunately, all of them are ok so far, and I hope the same is true for Omar’s loved ones.

    Thinking about his upcoming air trip, I have to say I’m awfully skeptical about offsets. They seem to me to be too painless to be real. I’d love to hear what the ACEEE coaches have to say about them.

  3. Omar Samra
    April 12, 2011, 5:00 am

    Hello Christina, apologies for the late reply. We are still working to find a project suitable in Egypt. Regulations here are such that it has been hard for carbon offset projects to keep going and stay financially sustainable. We are working with an environmental consultancy on this though and we’re hopeful.

    Tom, again sorry for the delay in response. I guess the first step is always minimizing your carbon footprint first then offsetting. I agree that simply offsetting everything is not good practice. Having said this, I would rather people did that than nothing at all.