Conquering Challenges- My Experience Climbing Kilimanjaro: The incredible importance of setting personal goals and challenging yourself cannot be overemphasized. Not only does it ensure we are making constant progress in our lives, it also elevates us to new possibilities of what we can actually do. I’ve always maintained that nothing can be achieved without both vision and goalsetting. I set myself the goal of scaling the Seven Summits and after my trip to the Himalayas last year, I traveled to Tanzania earlier this month to take on Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa’s highest peak. It was amazing to do this to actively promote a cause that is so close to my heart, sustainable aviation, and to do so with the support of International Business Aviation Council (IBAC), the Asian Business Aviation Association (AsBAA), and the Middle East Business Aviation Association (MEBAA).
Arriving in Tanzania, I was struck by the natural beauty of the country. Kilimanjaro rose up before me majestically, a monumental undertaking, but I had traveled there for this challenge and was determined to meet it with a can-do attitude. I felt inspired and excited to begin. I met my guide and the team of porters who would be accompanying us, as a group we were destined to get to know each other well in the days ahead. Going through hardships with people is the most bonding experience possible, whether those challenges exist in the boardroom or on the mountain, working through them together unites us and makes eventual success so much more satisfying.
We set off and a day later, after reaching 3500 meters (11482ft), we were getting closer to Shira Camp 1 on the Western side of the mountain where we planned to get a few hours rest. The importance of practicing patience and focusing entirely on my goal was the fuel that sustained me through climbing in bad weather conditions and through rough and rocky roads. I also had to contend with the debilitating effects of altitude sickness. It began to get extremely cold and nights were spent sleeping in tents totally exposed to the freezing winds and plummeting temperatures.
By day four of the climb, we had reached Moir Camp (4200m/13800ft). Kilimanjaro encompasses a wide variety of ecosystems and incredible scenery. A personal highlight was the mesmerizing morning we spent at Camp Pofu (4000m/13123ft) where I could easily see Kenya on the horizon just under the clouds. We then descended to the Third Cave camp at 3700m (12140ft) to sleep and to climatize our bodies before reaching Base Camp at 4700m (15420 ft). At this stage, the climb was taking serious tolls on our bodies. No amount of physical training can truly prepare you for a climb like that. Our porters understood that beyond physicality, we need mental strength to keep going. They ensured spirits stayed high and raised morale by singing songs. As we neared the summit, the sound of ‘Hakuna Matata’ rang through the air and I found myself on Kilimanjaro’s summit, a staggering 5900m (19340ft) above sea level. The feeling is indescribable.
I’d like to thank all of the individuals and organizations that have shown me such support on this awareness mission. In the coming weeks, I will be finalizing the donation process and planned events focusing on enhancing aviation sustainability with IBAC and AsBAA.