Four senior members of Boy Scout Troop 175 in Simsbury who carry the same love of the outdoors in their hearts and black Smith and Wesson machetes on their belts are a band of athletic, disciplined teen adventurers who dedicate two out of four weekends a month to hiking rough terrain and honing their mountaineering skills. They call themselves The Immortals.
On July 20, the elite group and five fellow scouts aspiring to join it will leave for Tanzania to face their toughest challenge. Accompanied by Scoutmaster Brad Mead and 14 other adults, they will attempt to scale Mt. Kilimanjaro, quite an undertaking even among the ambitious exploits of Eagle Scouts.
Setting off on a far easier climb up the ridge trail at Penwood State Park Friday, the scouts, ages 14-18, exuded self-assurance. And no wonder. Since January, their training has included a deep freeze survival weekend in 8-degree weather, a snowshoe trip in New Hampshire's White Mountains and a climb up Tuckerman Ravine. Last weekend, they hiked in the Adirondacks, building their own shelters in the rain, starting camp fires without matches and covering 17 mountainous miles in little more than a day.
"These guys are ready," declared Mead, an investment banker and veteran climber whose twin sons, Ryan and Jeffrey, are members of The Immortals.