Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro

In July of 2013, I had the opportunity to go to Africa and join a group of 12 other Americans who, with Tanzanian guides and porters, climbed to the top of Mount Kilimanjaro. This is Africa’s tallest mountain, and is19,341 feet above sea level. This climb was a dream I have had for ten years. That is when I first saw and was lured by beautiful Kilimanjaro towering above the plains of Kenya and Tanzania. I didn’t know it when we started the climb, but afterward I was told that I was the oldest person to reach the summit by way of the Great Western Breach trail. Only then did I fully realized how blessed I was to be able to complete this challenging mountaineering adventure.

I am 82 years old, and I live at Kendal at Hanover. We have the facilities and staff here that helped me to work on my aerobic fitness as well as my strength. In addition the White Mountains of New Hampshire are nearby, and I’ve climbed a good many of the peaks there to prepare myself for mountain climbing, first in Colorado in recent summers, and then eventually in Africa.

Diana Nyad recently swam from Cuba to Florida. She is 64 years old, and this was her fifth attempt to make that 100 plus mile crossing. I am inspired by what she said when she finished.

  1. She emphasized that she had the determination never to give up.
  2. She felt that she was never too old to try.
  3. She said without a great support team, it couldn’t be done.

After my mountain climbing experience, I couldn’t agree more with all three of those statements.

I have been fortunate to have not yet had joint problems, cardiovascular problems, balance problems or other such infirmities that come with advancing age. I am blessed with an understanding and supportive and loving wife. Here at Kendal we live in a “caring community” where mutual support of all our neighbors and friend is important. Our motto is “Together, transforming the experience of aging.” I think that my accomplishment at Kilimanjaro is transformative for my aging experience, and, by example, I hope it is for others too.

Tom Wilson
October 2013