I read an article in our local paper about a group of men who recently summitted Mt. Kilimanjaro. In the article, the men are quoted as saying they didn't have to do much training for the hike and reaching the summit was not that hard. I felt badly at first, thinking back on all the training I did: the many miles and hills my dog and I walked in our neighborhood, the repetitive boring steps on the Stairmaster, the long bicycle rides and the squats. And still, climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro was the hardest thing I have ever done (and hope to do)
Then, I read to the bottom of the article and saw a local travel agency prominently mentioned, and realized the hike's leader was from that agency. The "ease" of the hike all made sense. But I'm wondering if those who read the article also saw a more recent one about tennis great Martina Navratilova who was forced to quit her climb at 14,800 feet (the summit is 19,330 ft/ 5892 m)because she developed high-altitude pulmonary edema - a potentially life threatening condition.
Not everyone who attempts to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro succeeds - I am just now discovering how many fail. I feel fortunate to have reached the top. And, I must confess, I was in a group I would categorize as ignorant. I was aware of the risks, but my inspiration was a woman in her sixties who described herself to me as "not much of a hiker" before she attempted Kilimanjaro. I would think "if she can do it, so can I!"
She got close to the summit - she made it to Stella Point. Having climbed there myself, I can appreciate her accomplishment, even more since she hiked in a snow storm while I had clear weather.