It was in the Stars: Climbing Africa’s Highest Peak

It was April 11, 2014, a Friday morning. I sent an email at 11:30a to a few friends and by 11:43a we had committed to a momentous and somewhat ridiculous undertaking together.

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It’s something I’ve wanted to do for years and was one of first items on my Life List. But it always seemed like too much; too big to actually put together. Until now…

Holy shit guys, I’m climbing Mount Kilimanjaro next week!


This tallest freestanding mountain in the world. The highest point in Africa. That Kilimanjaro.

This trip is quite different than any other I’ve taken before – yes I’ve planned big adventures before and have climbed big shit before, but this time around the planning started nearly nine months in advance. That’s unheard of for me.

I’m a 2-3 months ahead of time planner, tops. Until now. This trip.


Early last year I had a compulsion to plan something EPIC for my 30th birthday in October. It was so very strange because I’m not a big birthday person in general and I don’t think I’ve ever contemplated a birthday that far in advance. But I started looking into what it would take to summit Kili; started researching routes and tour groups, guides and logistics.

In a stroke of pure cosmic bad-assery, one of the guide companies that I was looking at suddenly popped up on Living Social Escapes. The very same company, BUT for over half off!! What the what?? The excited expletives that came flying out of my mouth…I tell ya, I freaked the fuck out.

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This glorious gem was basically placed in my lap by the travel gods. Who was I to refuse?

That’s when I sent the email to my best gal pals (who would also be turning 30 in the next year) and pitched them on this EPIC “girlfriends-take-on-a-mother-fucking-mountain-at-30” idea.

It’s like the ultimate (yet antithesis of a) girls getaway – fuck you glamping and resort weekends.


13 minutes. That’s all it took for everyone jump on board. And it’s precisely why we’ve remained best friends for over a decade.

By nightfall the next day, the thing was purchased and our dates booked; January 2015. We’d made a $2,000 commitment (each!) to do this thing together.

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Over the following months flights were booked, more research done, giddy G+ Hangouts had, gear lists created.


This whole past year we’ve been trying to contain our excitement about this far-off grand trip. And now, all of sudden, it’s next week! Gah. I cannot believe the damn thing is actually happening!

I should give you an intro to these nut jobs who agreed to do this with me:


Annie (AB) – Seattleite by birth, runner by choice, baked-goods enthusiast by nature. She was one of my first friends in the dorms at the University of Oregon freshman year, aka 2003. AB is a planner, she gets shit buttoned up and sometimes gets antsy about things running smoothly.


She can be anxious at times, but it’s part of her charm – and damn if she isn’t charming as all get out. I’ve never met anyone who is more thoughtful. Not ever. This gal is so amazing that sometimes I don’t think she’s real.

Bobbi Jo (Bojo, Bobs, BJ) – Canadian born, California raised. We met in 2005 at UofO and now she’s married to one of my best friends from high school. Their first child shall be named Kelly. Just kidding. But no, really.


She’s also something of good advice robot (like how are you right all. the. time?) and is more loyal than those few pounds you gained over the holiday season; she sticks with you man. For all time.

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I’ve lived, traveled, cried, and nearly peed myself from laughing so hard with these ladies. We’ve helped each other through weddings, divorces, deaths, moves, unfortunate hair cuts. Hell, we’ve stalked Jared from Subway together.


We’ve been in the trenches of life together.

And now we’re climbing fucking Kilimanjaro next week!

This crazy trip is made even more hilarious by a rather odd (but awesome) coincidence…

Before I sent that email – literally THE DAY BEFORE – AB and Bojo had taken to Gchat to discuss my 30th birthday. Weird. And this is part of the conversation that ensued:

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I’m certain that this was all meant to be and that somewhere along the way we banked enough karma points to have this piece of perfection come our way.

So coming up next I’ll be sharing some of the prep we’ve been doing for this monster undertaking. From vaccinations, to training regimens to packing lists and gear purchases.


Have you ever thought of climbing Mount Kilimanjaro?

Is there anything you want to know about the prep process?

One thought on “It was in the Stars: Climbing Africa’s Highest Peak

  • Kathy McClung

    Hi Kelly, Don’t know if you remember me, but I still live in Hyland Greens where I met your family. I used to sew with your sweet Mom for the Denver Zephyrs a million years ago. My 3 kids, Shawn, Heather and Colin all went to Flynn Elementary. Maybe you and Colin, the youngest who’s 32, knew each other…or not. I believe Heather used to babysit you guys.
    Anyway, I hope you have the time of your life on this adventure with your girlfriends. SO BRAVE! I’ll pray for your safety and joyous return.
    Good luck and have fun.


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