MT KILIMANJARO, Tanzania – Climbing Africa’s highest free standing mountain is a task in and of itself, but when you carry your own gear and ascend at a rapid pace, the odds of failure are greatly increased.
Current and former special operations soldiers affiliated with ShadowSpear spent a good portion of 2012 training for Kilimanjaro. Prior to the climb, ShadowSpear took the opportunity to use the climb as a fundraising event to fully benefit the Special Operations Warrior Foundation (SOWF).
Mount Kilimanjaro tops out at an elevation of 19,341 feet. According to the climbers, the rapid pace was difficult to maintain due to the lack of oxygen in the higher elevations. One of the climbers shared his experience.
“I really started to feel it at about 13,000 feet. After the first night, I really didn’t get any sleep, because my heart felt like it was going to beat out of my chest. My resting heartrate was ridiculously fast.”
A number of the climbers experienced altitude sickness just before the summit, but managed to pull through to complete their mission, as any special operations soldier would.
“Altitude sickness was experienced by us all in different ways. Some of the guys felt like they were drunk, while others felt like they had a horrible case of the flu. Either way, the symptoms sucked. Had we gone up at a slower pace, the effects would have been reduced, but what’s the fun in that?”
The group set out to climb the last few thousand feet at midnight, which made it essential for them to maintain their focus.
“On the summit night, any one of us could have easily made a mistake and fell, but we had each other’s backs.”
The Special Operations Warrior Foundation was founded in 1980 to provide support and assistance to personnel serving in the U.S. Special Operations Command. To donate to the foundation, visit www.specialops.org.