Erik's 2nd Continental Summit
|Elevation||19,341 feet (5,895 meters)|
|Mountain Range||Kilimanjaro is the highest mountain in the world not part of a range|
|First Ascent||October 6, 1889 by Yohanas Lauwo, Hans Meyer, and Ludwig Purtscheller|
|My Ascent||My first in August 1997, and my second in September, 2005|
Kilimanjaro stands alone on a flat plain, formed by a massive volcanic event which exploded beneath the Earth's surface and deposited magma in the shape of a gigantic cone called a stratovolcano. You can still smell sulfur emitting from the crater. The summit lies on the south edge of the caldera and has its own name, "Uhuru," meaning freedom in the Swahili language. My second of the Seven Summits, Kilimanjaro, rises to 19,300 feet from the vast African savannah. The peak is an oddity as its snow capped summit lies almost directly on the equator. It is also the only place in the world where you can pass so quickly through the Earth's five distinct vegetation zones: the farmlands of the lower slopes, forest, heath and moorland, alpine desert, and arctic.
Kili will always hold a special place for me, since I married my wife, Ellie, on my first expedition at 13,000 feet on the Shira plateau. Ellie didn't have a wedding dress, so we wrapped her up in a Tanzanian cloth we had been eating from. Our friends built a rock alter and collected beautiful mountain flowers which Ellie held in a bouquet. At the end of the ceremony, we walked through a tunnel of Tanzanian porters as they threw rice over us; the slight mistake was that they had boiled the rice and it stuck all over our fleece.
On my second trip, I led a team of blind and sighted climbers from four continents, including Douglas Sidialo, who had been blinded in the 1998 U.S. Embassy bombing in Nairobi. Douglas wanted to climb Kilimanjaro to spread a message of hope and peace triumphing violence. After a week of climbing, Douglas became the first blind African to stand on the roof of his continent. The next year, I donated my tandem mountain bike, and Douglas, along with his friend Josh, peddled from Cairo to Cape Town, across the entire continent of Africa.