I remind myself now of something that I think is very important in considering this climb and what it means to you. Most Westerners are very competition and results focused. It sets us up for a very competitive sense of what it means to accomplish something. It’s not enough to finish something, it’s to finish faster than someone else, or the fastest, strongest, best score. Even in sports that can be done solo, like golf or cycling, we have a handicap or time we are trying to best with ourselves.
Climbing Kilimanjaro, I have found has a very different competitive issue. Racing someone else, making the best time, not letting someone else get ahead does not work here. And that is because the real competitor is the mountain itself. And he or she is very unforgiving. So someone can rush to make best time and get altitude sickness because of the lack of adjustment and it’s over. It’s Kilimanjaro competing and nature has it’s own calculus.
I say this for the alpha males who compete and accomplish in other fields and then face Kilimanjaro. Many see someone pass them by and they get worked up (saw this with my own eyes). It can bring one to no good. Respect the mountain. Be in synch with her and your limits. Nothing else matters. This is something Tanzanians understand…it’s why they speak of ‘kili time’. Kilimanjaro has it’s own cycle of life.
I found this very humbling and refreshing.
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