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No Mountain Too High: Conquering Kilimanjaro

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Published: March 7th, 2014
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We did it! The most incredible sports event for me ever. The entire team completed the trek to the summit of Mt. Kilimanjaro—the highest free standing mountain in the world.

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Pictured: Dr. Maroon and Rajesh Durbal (thrid and fourth from the left, respectively) Photo Credit: Sergio Moran

The athletes participating were more than world class—three had only one leg; one had no legs and only one arm; one had no arms and two had only one functional arm following traumatic injuries. Yet their spirit, sense of humor, determination, persistence and incredible physical and mental strength was evident throughout!

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Photo Credit: Sergio Moran

We spent five days slowly acclimatizing while sleeping in tents on lava stones and in sleeping bags—with no toilet facilities, running water or opportunities to bathe. The day of the summit we started out in pitch darkness at 4:30 a.m. It took 11 hours to reach the summit with a spectacular view of Kenya and the distant Serengeti plain. Pole, pole (slowly, slowly) was our mantra from 14,000 to 19,000 feet, one step at a time and then a breath because of the hypoxia—half the amount of oxygen in the air compared to sea level. But the joy and satisfaction of reaching the summit with the most incredible team with which I’ve ever been associated, was overwhelming and worth the sacrifices. Truly they demonstrated that one’s altitude figuratively and literally is determined by one’s attitude.

See how I trained for this journey here.

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