What I Did This Summer: Climb Mt. Kilimanjaro
"What I Did This Summer" follows a number of University of South Carolina students as they work, travel, and explore the world. Many of them blog about their adventures. This is the twelfth story in the series.
When Amanda Casto reached the top of the highest freestanding mountain in the world, all she could think was, "When is the sun going to rise? When is the sun going to rise? When is the sun going to rise?"
That's because it was 7 o'clock in the morning and very dark, the temperature was about two degrees below zero, and she was wearing the coat and clothes she had slept in. She had spent the last four and a half days enduring a difficult and dangerous trek. She was ready for the pay-off.
"Climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro was mentally, emotionally, and physically the hardest thing I've ever done," said Casto, a fourth-year Honors College student from John's Creek, Georgia.
"The entire climb requires four and a half days to go up, and one and a half days to come down. During that time, my thoughts went from ‘Am I going to make it?' to ‘I'm on top of the world!' I think it will stand as one of the most treasured accomplishments of my life."
Climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro wasn't really on Casto's list of things to do, but she knew she would be in Tanzania in June on a Study Abroad with the Moore School of Business. She decided to see as much of the country as she could, including the people who live there, and their scenic towns and landscapes.
The climb also makes a great subject for her Honors College thesis.
"When I began to research the climb, there was a lack of definitive information, specifically for women and young ladies, on how to do it," said Casto, who is majoring in business management and entrepreneurship and minoring in Spanish. "There wasn't one strong resource to tell me what it would be like and exactly how to prepare for it. My goal is to create a definitive Website."
How did she prepare?
"Three months before my hike I started to physically prepare for it by going to the gym regularly, walking on the treadmill on the highest incline for about an hour, and strength training with weights," she said. "I was prepared physically for the climb, but I'm not sure about mental and emotional preparedness. I hope to figure this out during the thesis process."
And what is the climb like?
"In the days leading up to the summit, we hiked four to ten miles every day," she said. "Our team was led by Arnold, a professional guide from Tanzania who had climbed the summit about 30 times in the past three years. His dad was a professional guide, too.
"The day before you summit, you eat at 4 p.m. and go to sleep as early as possible," she said. "At 11 p.m., you get up and climb to the summit, which is just over 1,200 meters at that point. You want to get there in time to watch the sun rise."
More 2010 "What I Did This Summer" stories
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