Kilimanjaro: On Top Of Africa

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My ascent of Kilimanjaro was inner self-driven and inspired from reading an interview in CODE magazine with Dr. Keith Black, the brilliant brain surgeon at Los Angeles' Cedars-Sinai, who also scaled the snow-capped mountain.

By Freddie Hubbard

[Journey To The Summit]

On January 5th, 2007, one day after my 46th birthday, and with a renewed confidence, I stood on Kibo Peak, Uhuru Point (19,340 ft.), atop Mt. Kilimanjaro, the roof of Africa, the birthplace of humanity, one of the world's seven highest peaks, where ancient glaciers that are as tall as 10-story buildings (over 11,000 years old) reside. 

Inasmuch as it was an adventure, this was also a spiritual journey to my primeval lineage.
 
The summit at Uhuru Point is more than 1,600 feet higher than Everest base camp.  Estimates vary, but around 20,000 people attempt to climb Kilimanjaro each year.  Almost half fail to reach the summit.


I climbed in the lowest temperatures I have ever encountered, and saw some amazing views of Mwenzi and Kibo Peaks, as well as looking down on the vast plains of Kenya and Tanzania when they weren't hidden beneath a blanket of cloud far below us. Each day of the climb was an adventure.
 
My ascent of Kilimanjaro was inner self-driven and inspired from reading an interview in CODE magazine with Dr. Keith Black, the brilliant brain surgeon at Los Angeles' Cedars-Sinai, who also scaled the snow-capped mountain. 


Many have asked:  why climb Mt. Kilimanjaro? In his writings Dr. Black states and I strongly believe as well, that it's important to experience life; to really have an ability to sort of sense everything that life has out there to provide.  It is why I travel to at least one foreign country a year.  It is what drives me to learn to scuba-dive.  It's the same yearning that makes me sky dive. My goal in pursuing these experiences is to incorporate them into the person I am.
 
Due to Kilimanjaro's equatorial location and high elevation, almost every climate type on earth is represented, including a year-round snow-topped summit. That's why I consider the six-day Machame Route to be the most scenic and ideal for acclimatization—to get your body used to the altitude. All this is a little technical and if you have the bug to climb this glorious continental highpoint, we can go into much more detail by e-mail.


My trip to Tanzania was such a life-altering experience that I am returning in December of this year. This time, I am taking and filming a group led by myself, along with muralist Jerry Gant, writer Jacque Douge, educators Al-Turrick Kenney and Jarrah Crowder, businessman Kevin Jenkins, and other friends and acquaintances. All who yearn to summit should hurry; experts claim these magnificent glaciers will no longer exist by 2015. If you would like to join my crew in December, please send me an e-mail message for information.
 
Back to my climb: At 5:00 am, upon reaching Mwenzi (16,890 ft.), the second almost unassailable peak, with its towering jagged spires of the splintered volcanic cone, I had an incredible opportunity to photograph the sunrise. It was a sight to behold. After a few more hours of climbing, we reached the crater floor. Seeing the volcanoes crater, situated next to the Furtwangler Glacier, is one of this globe's most entrancing spots. Though the glaciers of Kilimanjaro are indeed threatened, they are still impressive.
 
As Autrey Selkeld writes in her fine book KILIMANJARO: "The crater was an utterly different world, filled with rust-colored gravel from which rose walls of turquoise-tinted ice, sculpted into the most exquisite shapes.  These may represent only a shadow of the former ice cap, yet still the scene takes your breath away.  It really was a magic fairyland."


My own summation? The most difficult thing I have ever done; yet, also the most rewarding experience I have ever had.


For those who would like more information on traveling to Tanzania to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro, or to accompany on my second trip please reach me at 
freddie@freddiehubbardphotography.com

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