Ultimate Motivation for Committing to Kilimanjaro

If you’ve never climbed a major mountain or done any sort of extreme trekking adventure before, you might be wondering whether it truly is realistic for you to take on the commitment and challenge of climbing Mount Kilimanjaro. But of all of the world’s great “Seven Summits,” Mount Kilimanjaro truly is the most reasonable one to handle, even for first-time climbers.

If you don’t believe me yet, keep reading to learn about some of the records set on Mount Kilimanjaro by some really dedicated, determined, and amazing humans from all over the world.

Think you can’t climb Kili? This 86-year old Russian grandma did it in 2015.

NOTE: This is part 5 of a multi-part blog series on climbing Mount Kilimanjaro. Be sure to check out the other parts detailing various aspects and phases of our preparation, trip logistics, and the climb, all linked at the end of each article. And definitely don’t miss the vlogging video compilation at the end. 

On July 20th, 2017, 88-year old Fred Distelhorst became the oldest person to climb Mount Kilimanjaro. After reaching the summit and breaking the oldest climber record, Fred popped out a can of Coor’s beer and remarked, ” It wasn’t such a big deal. I was surprised it wasn’t harder.”

And if you think such feats are limited to men, think again. On October 29th, 2015, 86-year old Russian-born Angela Vorobeva summited Kili, becoming the oldest woman to do so.

Many other octogenarians have also made the climb in the past decade, including Anne Lorimor, aged 85, in July 2015; Robert Wheeler, aged 85, in October 2014; Martin and Ester Kafer, aged 85 and 84 respectively, in September 2012; Richard Byerley, aged 84, in October 2011; and Bernice Buum, aged 83, in September 2010.

But age records on Kilimanjaro haven’t only been set by these power-climbing seniors. Juniors have gotten in on the action as well, putting many of us healthy mid-lifers to shame. On October 22, 2018, 6-year old Albuquerque native Coaltan Tanner became the youngest confirmed person to ever successfully climb Mount Kilimanjaro.

Little Coaltan, who was already an experienced high-altitude climber when he journeyed to Tanzania, made the trek alongside his parents. But don’t worry, they did obtain all the necessary clearances from his pediatrician before allowing him to come along on the climb.

Six-year old Coaltan Tanner at the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro.

Similarly, the 7-year old supergirl Montannah Kenney from Austin, Texas became the youngest female to climb Mount Kilimanjaro in March of 2018. Montannah and her mom, Hollie, did the climb to raise money and awareness for Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy for trauma survivors, which Montannah’s father was undergoing when he tragically died.

But it’s not just incredibly fit seniors, intrepid juniors, and other healthy and whole people who have successfully climbed Mount Kilimanjaro. In 2007, Bernard Goosen, a South African, became the first wheelchair-bound quadriplegic to reach the summit of Kilimanjaro. 

In 2012, Kyle Mynard, born with no arms or legs, made it unassisted to the summit by crawling. He used no prosthetic limbs! He also leveraged his climb to raise funding and awareness for wounded veterans.

In September 2015, South African Chaeli Mycroft became the first female quadriplegic to summit Mt Kilimanjaro. She used a specially designed “mountain wheelchair”. Celebrating her 21st birthday on the mountain, she used her climb to raise money for the Chaeli Foundation.

In January 2016, Aaron Anderson, who lost both his legs to cancer, scaled Kilimanjaro initially using a specially designed bicycle. However, when the steeper slopes toward the top became too difficult, he discarded the bike and crawled to the summit!

In June 2016, Aaron Phipps, who lost both his legs at the age of 15 to Meningitis, made it to the summit unaided. He used a wheelchair for most of the route, but for the last 9 hours he crawled on his hands and knees.

So if you have been questioning whether you realistically have the ability to train and climb Mount Kilimanjaro, hopefully the true stories of these brave climbers who have done it before (including very recently) will inspire you and make you realize that you have no. freggin’. excuse. not to put in a little effort and make it happen too.

Fred Distelhorst at the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro. At 88 years old, Fred holds the world record for the oldest person to reach the summit.

Other Featured Articles in the Climbing Kilimanjaro Series:

Part 1: Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro – The Intro

Part 2: Preparation and Training for Kili

Part 3: Choosing a Climbing Route on Kilimanjaro

Part 4: Essential Gear and Packing List for Kilimanjaro

Part 5: Ultimate Motivation for Committing to Kilimanjaro