- After Summiting Mont Blanc, Kilimanjaro Was Next – Part 2 of My Road to Self-Discovery -


After Summiting Mont Blanc, Kilimanjaro Was Next – Part 2 of My Road to Self-Discovery

After months of planning, training, and anticipating my next trekking adventure, I am happy to announce that I ascended Mount Kilimanjaro, aka the “roof of Africa”, on June 26, 2022.
I can also cross out item #4 on my bucket list!

What a gift to see Africa in a 360-degree panorama high above the clouds with the sun rising! Even at -20 °C (4 °F) weather, this moment was magical. I’ll skip the details about my physical and mental preparations, as well as the six-day ascent, and focus on the summit and the descent. These two sections of the program were the most challenging but resonate with the greatest lessons of self-awareness and growth.

The last part of our ascension, or “Summit Day”, started at midnight and covered 6 km (3.7 miles) to reach an elevation of 5,895 m (19,340 ft) above sea level on very steep, slippery, and treacherous terrain. At 7:30 am, 20 minutes after reaching the summit of Kilimanjaro, our guide gave us the order to begin our descent to minimize the effects of the high altitude. Because of the mountain’s height and the limited time available to acclimatize, it’s imperative to descend rapidly to help the body adjust to the altitude difference, which can have a considerable impact on humans.

With one week of heavy fatigue setting in and my adrenaline waning, it was at this moment that I felt a very real connection to resilience and purpose, and what it means to find it in you to push on. All climbers and hikers will tell you that the most difficult part of such a program is descending. Once we reached the base camp at 10:30 am, an elevation of 4,600 m (10,363 ft), we finally got a chance to rest a bit, eat, and have a hot drink. Then we set off for the final camp descent at 3,100 m (10,170 ft), an extra 4 hours of hiking.

While reaching the summit is the ultimate goal, my favorite parts remain the journey and the lessons I learned along the way. Going beyond the edge has provided me with unique and deeply personal memories, but so has spending 7 days with the awesome crew and guides. When you are trekking at these high altitudes, it’s not an exclusively personal experience, a “me-and-nature” thing, but a collective experience. In 7 short days under extreme circumstances, a connection was made with this team. What started as curiosity transformed into a shared profound experience and a shift from “I” to “we”. In 7 short days, we were challenged, we survived, and we got to learn about each other’s families, cultures, lifestyles, likes, beliefs, values, hopes and dreams for the future, and much more. We became ONE—all equal, all precious. And in being one, we gained clarity, strength, and focus on our mission and our purpose. Songs, dances, games, and other entertainment throughout the day brought out the best in us, underpinning our commitment to fulfilling our goal—to complete this journey TOGETHER no matter what.

Much like my climb up Mont Blanc, I look back and reflect on the parallels between this recent adventure and my three years at the helm of UPC-Marathon/Nitrex at a turbulent time when a pandemic has impacted and reshaped our company and the rest of the world. The benefits of leading together even while working towards something personal helped us recognize new opportunities and achieve our goals. Part of that journey to success and growth is the tenacity to keep pushing forward and to make things happen even when times are tough. The Kilimanjaro and the Nitrex teams share the same values and philosophy: never go at it alone, come together to achieve more of our potential together, and lead to succeed by focusing on priorities and thinking of the next steps.

On this final note, I would like to express my gratitude to everyone who contributed to this incredible journey and enabled me to mark off #4 on my bucket list:

  • Jerome and Laura: my partners in “extreme” adventures
  • Musa and Baraka: our amazing guides, who are elite athletes, natural leaders, and the best team players you can ask for
  • Juma: our fantastic cook who worked his culinary magic even at high altitudes
  • Ernest, Godfrey, Aizack, Joseph, Jonson, Richard, Philimoni, Willyson, Tumain and Stiveni, our porters and everyday heroes who carried the heaviest loads and always put our safety first
  • UPC/Nitrex: all my colleagues and team members for their constant encouragement

Without their involvement, motivation, and commitment, this adventure would not have been possible. Thank you, I am forever grateful!

Last but not least, I could not have done this without the unconditional support of my wife; she helped me free up time to focus on my physical and mental training. Thank you so much Nina!