Leaving to climb next week, again

Why I STILL love climbing Kilimanjaro


Why I STILL love climbing Kilimanjaro

By Donovan Pacholl

I leave next week to climb Kilimanjaro again. Although I have spent almost 20 years involved with working, living and climbing Kilimanjaro, and yet there remains a pull, a draw to that mountain that leaves me intrigued and inspired by the entire experience. EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. 

I climbed in March of 2021 with a group to demonstrate that traveling the world and climbing during COVID was reasonable. Last year Embark led more than 100 people to the summit, and everyone returned home safe and sound.

One year later I return, this time to spend time with more than 50 climbers, some of whom are kidney donors, and others promoting awareness for mens’ cancer, and others that just want a kick-ass, challenging experience.  After a few years of being deprived of those once-in-a-life time adventures that fill our souls, they’re itching to get out there and feel that sense of completion; that hiker’s high you can’t replicate through Peloton or on-line yoga.

While many people have their own significant reasons for climbing Kilimanjaaro, I personally just love the day-in and day-out grind of waking up, hiking all day, dealing with weather, working with a team of people, and doing it over and over toward our goal of 19,341 ft.

There is something magical about the mountain itself; its grandeur, its ability to seem foreboding yet reasonable. It’s a magnificent beast that grows more intimidating the closer you get to it. When the ultimate test comes on summit night, you wearily count the footsteps of the hiker in front of you, 10 feet seems like 10 miles.  Suddenly you’re torn from your delirium and when the sun starts to rise after hiking in the cold dark for 7 hours, you know it’s within your reach. 

Most of the hikes on Kilimanjaro are merely a series of long day hikes. That’s what makes it “everyone’s Everest”  but what makes Kilimanjaro hard, both mentally and physically, is the final summit push, gaining 4000 feet over a 7 to 8 hours slog, and subsequently descending for another 7 to 8 hours. That’s a 14 to 16 hour hiking day after 6 days of sleeping outside. Tough!

I love all our guides, cooks and porters that have been faithful to our company through COVID. I don’t know if you remember, but immediately after March 2022, all climbing stopped on the mountain yet we were able to raise more than $20,000 that went back to them. Watching this video still makes me appreciate our vast community and all the Embark clients who contributed to this cause.

Make sure to follow us this March on Kilimanjaro via Facebook and Instagram. With so many people out to prove they can conquer their Kili, It promises to be a fascinating journey for all … and maybe just a bit of fun thrown in there along the way.

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