Climbing Kilimanjaro Through New Eyes

kilimanjaro peak

Images and text by Mark Whitman

Climbing Kilimanjaro is definitely an adventure, but I’ve never personally looked at it that way.

Thousands flock to Tanzania every year with the sole purpose of attempting to reach what many colloquially call the Roof of Africa. Standing at 19,341 feet (5,895 meters), Mount Kilimanjaro is the highest mountain on the African continent and the tallest non-massif (free-standing) mountain in the world.

The mountain’s popularity among hikers can be attributed to its Seven Summit status and the fact that it’s a non-technical climb. This means that anyone at (nearly) any age can climb Kilimanjaro. Fitness and physical ability are also more flexible than on many other climbs. Canadian couple Esther and Martin Kafer reached the summit at the ripe old ages of 84 and 85, while armless and legless Kyle Maynard crawled to the top of Kilimanjaro unassisted in 2012.

Compared to these extraordinary feats, I’ve never felt that my young, able-bodied experiences on Kilimanjaro were very adventurous.

It then dawned on me, recently, that I had indeed been part of a Kilimanjaro experience similar to those described above.

My first experience on Kilimanjaro was with a childhood mate who had suffered from partial sightedness for most of his life.

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