In 1984, I found myself working and travelling in Africa as part of a team from my CA firm, PriceWaterhouseCoopers in the UK. Part way through the 3-month work term, one of my workmates suggested a hike up Kilimanjaro, the highest point in Africa and 19,340 feet above sea level. We had our hiking boots and some basic gear and acquired the rest while travelling through the various countries of Southern Africa.
Kilimanjaro is unique amongst the 7 summits as to reach the top, you travel through every climate zone on earth. In less than a week, you experience rain forest, alpine moorland, tundra and finally glaciers. This was unknown territory for me as the highest I had ever been until then was less than 4,000 feet above sea level on the summit of Snowdon in Wales. Every step from the park gate at 4,500 feet was a new altitude record for me!
More of a hike than a climb, the challenges are rapid altitude gain, lack of available water and the need to “just keep going” on the summit day when faced with the seemingly unending scree slope to the crater rim.
It was fun to undertake this adventure with friends, despite only 2 out of 5 of us making the summit. Standing on the roof of Africa was for me a real buzz and although I did not realize it at the time, was the start of my quest for the 7 summits.