Within the first meeting for Wings Of Kilimanjaro, we didn't touch on the risk or mental wear we would face, instead we focused on the objective. The goal was to not only para-glide off the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro at 19,341 feet, but more importantly to provide education and clean water to the Maasai of Tanzania. In partnership with Nadus Films, our job was to document this great charitable event from start to finish.
Mount Kilimanjaro is the highest free-standing mountain in the world and is the most unique. As you trek to the top you pass through four different ecosystems; rain forest to moorland to alpine desert and finally to alpine glacier across volcanic erosion. The equipment list was extensive and detailed, but the proper gear was vital. It has to be the most durable, weather resistant, light weight, equipment available. Outside of our normal travel kit, lighting was the mystery equation. We couldn't pack a Arri Compact Fresnel, we didn't have constant power. We couldn't pack a LED Bank, it wasn’t water resistant. We couldn’t use the modeling lamp from our strobe, it wasn’t powerful enough. Our answer: the Light & Motion Stella Pro 5000.
I had heard of the LED light through the grapevine, well before it circled back to our project. The Stella Pro 5000 is completely waterproof to depths of 300 feet. It's lightweight at just over two pounds and has a built in Li-ion battery that provides ample time to get the shot on location. It also yields a 120° beam at a bright daylight-balanced output which is ideal for both still photography and motion.
Despite the perfect specifications for our extreme production, we were skeptical. Our main concern was the battery life. We needed a light that could operate at extremely high altitude in below-freezing temperatures. All batteries would have half their total run time. We pushed through seven grueling days of long treks and acclimatization beginning at 3,000 feet all the way to 19,341 feet. Throughout the journey, we put the lights into action, on the craggy trail and in the community tent. In the end, they held charge and hardly depleted, despite the severe change in ecosystems.
The Stella Pro 5000 proved its worth and became a vital asset to not only the production, but also the expedition, it provided a light for all in the darkest of frigid nights.
Although our expedition Wings Of Kilimanjaro pulled off an amazing feat and set a world record, I believe our greatest accomplishment was not para-gliding off a Mount Kilimanjaro at 19,341 feet. Our triumph was raising over a half-million dollars to save the lives of thousands of Maasai in the remote villages of Tanzania.