The Mountain, The Legends & The Kick-Butt Playlist

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Mount Kilimanjaro stands at 5,895 m or 19,341 ft in the country of Tanzania, located in East Africa. It is the highest mountain in Africa, the fourth highest of the world’s Seven Summits, and the highest free-standing mountain in the world. It was made from 3 volcanoes, Kibo, Mawenzi and Shira that had their last major eruption 360,000 years ago.

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40,000 people attempt to climb Mount Kilimanjaro each year. The youngest person to summit was 7-year-old Keats Boyd in January of 2008 and the oldest person was 85-year-old Robert Wheeler in October of 2014. Even more amazing was Spencer West, the man with NO LEGS who made it to Uhuru Peak, the summit of Mt. Kilimanjaro by walking on his hands!!!! And quite possibly the most absurd summit, is the record for the highest altitude pizza delivery. This major feat was accomplished just this month, May 2016 by none other than Pizza Hut. Surely I can do this, right?

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I’ll conveniently ignore the statistics of people, including professional athletes who have to turn around before reaching the peak due to altitude sickness. (Gulp!) 40,000 people attempt the climb each year, but 40,000 don’t reach the summit. Your chances of success are highly dependent on the number of days taken for the climb. The more days to allow yourself to acclimatize, the higher your chance of success is. Kilimanjaro National Park requires each climber to register when they begin and end the climb. Their statistics show all climbers on all routes (between 5-10 day climbs) with a mere 45% reaching the summit. Most tour operators praise themselves for having an upwards of 85% success rate. Which one is correct?  I guess only time will tell.

The really scary statistic is the average of 10 climbers that die each year, usually from heart attack, extreme cases of altitude sickness such as HACE (High Altitude Cerebral Edema) or HAPE (High Altitude Pulminary Edema), falls, and the rare rock slide. Mention this little statistic to my prone to worry mother and you are dead to me.

When I first learned about this, it freaked me out a little but hey, go big or go home. 10 out of 40,000 are relatively safe chances. I’m pretty sure driving in an automobile everyday puts me and my family at greater risk. My team of 30 Compassion Sponsors will be climbing the 6 Day Rongai route (One of the official 6 six routes up) with The African Walking Company. It’s on the Northern Side of the mountain which proves to be drier than the southern/western routes.  Our tour operators are a very reputable and safe company who are well-trained in spotting altitude sickness in climbers and are incredibly versed in how to avoid it or at least minimize it with a slow pace, plenty of fluids and appropriate time to acclimate.

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The first 4 days the hikes will range from 4-7 hours. On summit day, day 5…it will be 10-15 hours…with approximately 6 of it in the dark. We start our final ascent at midnight and hike by headlamp in the hopes of reaching the coveted destination of Uhuru Peak at sunrise. I can’t even imagine how stunningly beautiful that will be. After a brief 15 minutes of glory we will begin our descent for ANOTHER 7-8 HOURS!!!

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I’m not gonna lie, this is the day that is making me nervous. The other days I can tough it out and sleep when we get to camp while everyone else is socializing. I’m thankful that the tours of the Compassion Child Development Center, the Child Survival Program, and the home visits take place before the climb. When I’m dragging and running on empty, I’m going to remind myself of why I’m climbing and about all the people who will be getting clean, safe water at the bottom of that very mountain.  I’m banking on drawing strength from that to get me through. That and a whole lot of prayers and adrenaline (plus pain meds locked and loaded). But you know what? A KICK BUTT PLAYLIST couldn’t hurt!

Here is where I NEED YOUR HELP! I have been relying on streaming music for years. I am one of those people who love many songs but couldn’t tell you the title or artist. Shazam (one of the best inventions ever) and google have saved me tons of embarrassment over the years from having to squeak sing a few words of a song I liked to some poor soul to help me identify it. And now, I have to build a playlist? I am so unequipped.

So give me your FAVORITES! Give me your rev you up, can’t sit still, gets your heart beating double-time, pump your fists, here comes the second wind, ready to conquer the world, Rocky at the top of the stairs songs! It can be from all eras, all genres. I need to fill (and learn how to use) an iPod. What songs would you want with you?

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Bonus is that when I hear your suggested songs, I get to think of you on the mountain and all of your awesomeness distracting me from the grueling work at hand, so you’re there with me in spirit.

Asante Sana!
(Thank you in Swahili)

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