“When I say that mountaineering is a hazardous sport, I do not mean that when we climb mountains there is a large chance that we shall be killed, but that we are surrounded by dangers which will kill us if we let them.” The famous words of the early 20th century mountaineer George Mallory calls for personal responsibility; making good judgment and managing one’s own situation. These are apt reminders for those that engage in any adventure pursuit and it is truer if your desire is to succeed in an ascent of Mt. Kilimanjaro.
For avid adventurers, there is no better accomplishment than climbing Mt Kilimanjaro, a stunningly beautiful dormant volcano protruding out of the dusty game-rich plains of African savannah. Kili, as known among the climbing fraternity, is located in the heart of Tanzania at a staggering 19,340ft elevation. It is the rightful owner of the tag – the Roof of Africa or the tallest freestanding mountain in the world.
Many tend to think this is a mountain for the eccentrics as the history shows that people from many backgrounds have tried it. From cyclists to skiers, bikers to backward walkers, from the blind to amputees and the handy-capped; it’s no wonder, given the sheer number of people who stand atop Kili’s peak these days, and the ways in which they have done so, many think that the walk up is a piece of cake. You would be forgiven for thinking that way. However, you would also be wrong. The would-be climbers should not be misguided by the euphoria. Success and record-breaking feats receive a lot of coverage but they also serve to obscure the tales of suffering and tragedy that is often the case with the many ill prepared.
With several years of guiding successful commercial expeditions on Kilimanjaro and guiding clients up the peak number of times, this scribe has seen the level of risk involved, the agony and ecstasy and handling the negativity from people that have heard about some of the tragedies on the mountain.
The truth to the legend is this mountain presses so hard down on people to the very limits of what they are capable. Come under prepared, you’ll know soon enough that Kilimanjaro is an unforgiving terrain. There is a reason why local Masaai’s call it the “Mountain of Gods’ which seems entirely logical, given the number of people who meet their Maker every year on the slopes of Kilimanjaro. To climb to an elevation literally three and a half miles from sea level in less than a week, it can be very harsh on the human physiology.
Good planning in combination with the appropriate physical conditioning and lots of common sense like knowing your limitations is what one need when attempting such an undertaking. It does not cost anything to research, speak with past climbers and ask questions and above all choose an outfitter/guide service that you will trust your life with and how much risk you are willing to take.
The risks apart, if you are seeking a triumphant reward of a physical challenge beyond the ordinary and want to test your own limits, then you must climb Kilimanjaro. There is no doubt that those who succeed in tackling it presents the possibility for a spiritually fulfilling journey that will be cherished a lifetime of memories.
Recommended Reading: Kilimanjaro – The Best selling trekking guide to Africa’s Highest Mountain By Henry Stedman
(This article was previously published in examiner.com)