Monde Sitole is a man who climbs mountains. This twenty-something (he wouldn't reveal his age) has already faced many challenges in his short time on Earth. Monde has already scaled four out of the seven highest peaks on each continent in the world and is about to tackle his fifth one. In June of 2018, Monde will climb Aconcagua, the highest peak in South America. On Sunday, I decided to climb up another famous peak, Table Mountain, with Monde. Ok, so don't laugh - it was a big deal for me okay? Check out the video here:
When talking about Monde, I avoid mentioning the term “summit”. Monde is strictly about the journey. Summiting is a mere bonus of the ride, and judging from our morning together, he’ll always ensure you understand how this applies to your own life. Monde is a deeply philosophical soul (an INFP for sure) who begun reading the work of Carl Gustav Jung at 5 years old. Yup.
Originally from Khayelitsha, Monde Sitole hunted Cape Town’s public libraries for books that hadn’t left the shelves in years. He remembers asking the question: “do blind people think in pictures?” His innate curiosity has led him up many a mountain, to visit many a country, and to read many a book. Now, he can quote the many of the great philosophers at the drop of a hat.
An introvert by nature, with an extremely unconventional life story, the mountain is Monde’s classroom. Apart from hiking himself, he takes school kids up the mountain, where he allows them to discover suppressed parts of themselves. Most of the time I don’t say anything - I let the mountain do the talking. I’m particularly passionate about the misfits, the gangsters, because if they can have energy to stab people, what can they do if that energy is channeled towards positive outcomes.
Monde attended school upon a ship for one year (The SV Concordia) docking at many of the world’s iconic ports. School upon a the SV Concordia was heavily slanted towards experiential learning, where the kids were not only involved in the running of the ship (cooking, cleaning, sailing), but also in experiential learning at large - where the places they docked at correlated to a particular part of their syllabus.
No wonder Monde has gone on to choose an extremely unconventional life path.
In October this year, Monde will hike to Everest’s base camp in order to acclimatize, prior to his big hike in 2019, where he will tackle Everest without bottled oxygen (in his words, as the porters always did it, and without advertising so). He’s now channelling all of his adventurous efforts to one central goal: to raise money to build a school in rural Eastern Cape - a primary school for girls - with a large focus on adventure activities in lieu of building character.
Monde’s belief is that strong character is the core input variable for a successful life, above conventional academic success. He’s no doubt drawing upon his own story.