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Real extreme on Kilimanjaro

Kilimanjaro. Barefoot Kilimanjaro Trekkers Reach Summit to Promote Charity The barefoot trekkers braved cold temperatures, plenty of snow, and lots of sharp, loose rocks without protection, but after a five day climb up the 5695 meters dormant volcano, ... read more

Barefoot Kilimanjaro Trekkers Reach Summit to Promote Charity

The barefoot trekkers braved cold temperatures, plenty of snow, and lots of sharp, loose rocks without protection, but after a five day climb up the 5695 meters dormant volcano, they reached the top.

Strict rules allowed for footwear only while in camp between established climbing times and preparation included months of barefoot hiking, running, and "virtually living without shoes in order to give the climber's feet the best possible chance against the elements on the mountain."

The team reached the peak of Kilimanjaro on Saturday after setting out from the Kibo Huts four hours earlier in sub-zero temperatures. It had snowed over two feet earlier in the week, yet the crew trudged barefoot through thick snow and loose volcanic scree all the way to the top.

"We reached the peak as one very emotional tribe knowing we had achieved what we set out to do, Andrew King of the team posted on Barefoot IMPI's blog. "The entire barefoot team has summited - sore - but with no serious injury."

Besides King, the team included Hedley Young, Camilla Howard, Clyde Barendse, Rich Hamman, Sean Disney, Dr. Ross Tucker, Paul Jason and David Russell-Rockcliff.



King noted that on the way up they had "disheartening encounters" with climbers that had failed to summit and were visibly delirious and vomiting. They became worried that the same fate may befall them.

When Sean Disney -- who has successfully summited all the top seven peaks -- was approached to lead the Kilimanjaro team and asked to comment on his feelings he reportedly said at the time: "If you get lucky and the weather gods smile on you then... it's possibly not impossible."

Yet all trekkers made it to the top in relatively good condition. "We climbed Kilimanjaro, the tallest free standing mountain in the world, from gate to summit," King said. "Barefoot!"

The laborious feat was not without a cause. The team took on Kilimanjaro for the benefit of the Red Cross Children's Hospital, which has provided financial shelter and nourishment to people and businesses in South Africa for over 165 years.

"We live in a fortunate age where, for the most part, individual expression is accepted and celebrated" Barefoot IMPI stated on its Web site. "Outlandish fashion, tattoos, and vibrant hair color attract little attention or comment. But appearing barefoot in public, or running or climbing a mountain without shoes, draws immediate attention. Being barefoot is not regarded as an act, but as a statement."

Making that statement was no simple task.




"One of the now infamous quips within the team was 'No-one said it would be easy,'" Barefoot IMPI's Dave Russell noted on the blog. "And that's exactly the point. How are you going to raise genuine interest in the expedition and thereby awareness for our beneficiary if the challenge did not capture people's imagination and spark heated debates?"

"There seem to be parallels between our daily struggles on the mountain and the mountain of struggles that the awesome kids at the hospital face," Russell added.

You can read more about their experience by visiting or watch the video below.



Kyle Maynard did it, and did it the hard way

After 10 grueling days on Africa's tallest mountain, Maynard -- a congenital quadruple amputee and Collins Hill High School grad -- and his team reached the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro two Sundays ago. As if 19,340 feet of elevation wasn't challenge enough, they decided mid-journey to take the Western Breach.

A steep ascent fraught with the threat of rock slides, the Western Breach claimed the lives of three American climbers in 2006. It was shut down by the Tanzanian government for about a year afterward.



"It's almost 3,000 vertical feet," Maynard said Friday, having been back in the States for less than 24 hours. "Its massive boulders that are just held together by ice. And snowfields. There was no comparison (with the rest of the climb)."

Added Dan Adams, Mission Kilimanjaro's co-leader: "It's like something out of 'Lord of the Rings.'"

Maynard -- definitely the first quadruple amputee to summit Kilimanjaro without prothestics, and, by his own joking account, probably the first man period that's been "dumb enough" to crawl to the peak -- and crew reached the top at 7:15 a.m. on Jan. 15.

Nearing the peak, the group of friends, climbing pros and military veterans decided to take the Western Breach in order to save three or four days of hiking and about 15 more miles of wear and tear. The decision led to an exhausting 12-hour day.

"It was probably the toughest day that I've ever experienced in my life," Adams said. "And that comes from a fully able-bodied person."

Filmmaker Takashi Doscher, also a Collins Hill grad, made the trek with camera in tow.

"Whenever I'd get too nervous about it," he said, "I'd just tell myself, 'This is good for the movie.'"

Donning carbon fiber "sockets" around his limbs, Maynard said the overall climb was more like the other climbers' than expected. Previous concerns about blistering and skin integrity on his "nubs" were for naught, even during a torrential downpour in the Kilimanjaro rainforests during the first day of ascent.

Like he expected, his shorter limbs actually helped him acclimate to the elevation.

"This was something where I would look up the mountain, I'd look up at the summit and it didn't seem like it was getting any closer," Maynard said. "That was really just a huge mental challenge. I had to kind of remind myself that it was literally going to happen one step at a time."

That, he said, was part of the bigger mission of the journey.

"Don't be so caught up on that horizon," he said. "Just keep moving."