Could you climb Mt. Kilimanjaro?
Old people, young people: Everyone’s joining the mountain-climbing craze
When you’re nearly 100 years old, do you think you’ll still be summitting mountains? Anne Lorimor may not have had Kilimanjaro in her sights throughout her entire life, but this 89-year-old woman just became the oldest woman to ever summit the African mountain, which stands over 19,000 feet above sea level. But she isn’t the only incredible person to have recently reached the top.
What is Mount Kilimanjaro?
Mount Kilimanjaro is Africa’s tallest mountain, topping out at just over 19,000 feet above sea level. While it is incredibly tall, summitting the peak is considered easy by some experienced hikers because it doesn’t require serious rock-climbing gear (like ice axes, ropes, or harnesses).
Kilimanjaro is also a solo mountain. Unlike some of the world’s other tallest peaks (Everest, Denali, and Aconcagua, for example), Kilimanjaro is the product of volcanic activity and has no neighbors: Kilimanjaro stands alone. And it isn’t even just a mountain — Kilimanjaro is a volcano itself! Luckily, it isn’t predicted to erupt again anytime soon, much to the benefit of its happy hikers.
While about 30,000 people (including the exceptional individuals profiled below) make it to the top of Kilimanjaro each year, over half of the people who start out don’t make it all the way to the top. It may be a “walkable” mountain/volcano, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy.
What amazing people have summitted Mount Kilimanjaro?
Anne Lorimer not only holds the title of the oldest person to hike Mount Kilimanjaro, but she also has a whole life full of incredible accomplishments. Born in the middle of the Great Depression, she had to get scholarships to attend middle and high school, but she didn’t stop there. She has two Bachelor’s degrees in addition to two Master’s degrees AND a Ph.D. And that’s not all.
Lorimer has been hiking for most of her life, and she’s not going to stop now. At 76, she hiked Pike’s Peak (a 14,000+ foot peak). At the beginning of 2019, she decided to take on an even taller challenge: Kilimanjaro. After discussing her plans with the Guiness Book of World Records, she began training. On July 18, 2019, Lorimer officially became the oldest person to ever summit Kilimanjaro (and she did so without oxygen or any other artificial helpers).
On July 18, 2019, Lorimer officially became the oldest person to ever summit Kilimanjaro
Lorimer isn’t the only incredible person to have reached the top of Kilimanjaro in the past year. Inspired by 8-year-old Roxy Getter (the previous record-holder for the youngest person to summit Kilimanjaro), 7-year-old Joel Redmond took his family on the adventure of a lifetime when he decided to beat Getter’s record in early 2019.
Redmond’s parents, avid marathoners, were thrilled by their son’s dream and motivation, so on Christmas Day 2018, the whole family flew to Tanzania to embark on this record-breaking trip. The entire family participated in training exercises before the climb to prepare their bodies for the high altitude and are thrilled with their success.
What does it take to hike a mountain like Kilimanjaro?
Even though you don’t need ice axes and ropes to climb Kilimanjaro, you shouldn’t start such an adventure unprepared. Do your research, talk to professionals and experienced Kilimanjaro hikers, and take your time both in preparation and on your hike. But if hiking Kilimanjaro is a dream of yours, you can do it!
Have you ever dreamt of hiking one of the world’s tallest mountains? Let Lorimor, Getter, and Redmond inspire your own life-changing journey and remember: you’re never too young (or too old) to achieve your dreams.
A deeper dive — Related reading from the 101:
- Building mountains: A history of the Himalayas | Science101
All mountains are cool, not just the ones that are also volcanoes!
- Millionaire buries treasure in the mountains. Hunters make incredible discovery | Science101
Looking for a reason to go hiking? Start your own search for buried treasure: you might find more than you were looking for.