Arden Climbs Kilimanjaro
Recently our office assistant, Arden McKenzie climbed Mount Kilimanjaro, the highest mountain in Africa.
Kilimanjaro is a dormant volcano in Tanzania, with a summit of more than 16,000 feet. Of course we asked her “why” and she had a much better answer than “because it was there.”
Q: Arden, have you been a climber long?
A: I really started to get into hiking when I lived in Wyoming after college. Keeping it up in Charleston isn’t very easy.
Q: Why Kilimanjaro?
A: Kilimanjaro is one of the most doable Seven Summits to climb as an amateur. It’s not technical (ropes, harnesses, etc.) whatsoever. Your goal is to walk as slow as possible each day so I knew we could do it. We went with a Charlotte-based nonprofit that my friend started called Thrive Global Project and climbing Kilimanjaro was a way to fund raise and gain awareness for the schools in Moshi that the organization supports.
Q: How did you get there?
A: We flew into Tanzania and stayed in Moshi, which was about an hour from the airport and 15 minutes from the base of Kilimanjaro.
Q: Was it harder or easier than you thought?
A: We did the 7-day route, which is the most successful. I’d say days 1-5 were what I was expecting and even enjoyable! Summiting started at 12 a.m. on day six and included below freezing temps, 20 mph winds, five hours of hiking in the dark, frozen water bottles, a lack of food, and 30% less oxygen than at sea level. That day, along with the trek down on day seven was another story. It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life – by far.
Q: Favorite part of the trip?
A: My favorite part of the trip was the scenery. Tanzania is so beautiful and the mountain itself had 5 different ecosystems. The local guides were so fun and kept moral high while hiking with singing, which I loved.
Q: Ready to go back to Africa or on to something else?
A: Definitely not finished with Africa just yet. I’d love to go back and do a safari in South Africa and visit Cape Town.
With such an adventurous spirit, Arden fits right in with our travel-loving MDI team. We can’t wait to see what you’ve got planned next.