Christian Malcolm – “Climbline” Guest Speaker – Mount Kiliminjaro

Yesterday afternoon, Guest Speaker Christian Malcolm came to our school to meet with Division 16, 17 and 18.  He talked to us about his “climbline” of him climbing Mount Kiliminjaro which is on the border of Tanzania and Kenya.

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Christian took us through both his experience climbing as well as a timeline of both his preparation and the celebration afterwards.  He told us that when he was younger, he decided that every 5th birthday, he would do something special. On his 30th birthday, he climbed Mount Kiliminjaro so that he reached the peak on his birthday, which was August 19, 2003.  Not only was this an amazing experience, but it also inspired him to do other things in the future.  Some of his other adventures include bicycling from London to Paris and camping by himself in Scotland.  He talked to us about the opportunities for connecting adventure to charity fundraising.  For his upcoming birthday’s event, he was thinking about something more charity related.

Christian told us that it took a lot of preparation and determination to get ready, including making the decision about where to go, getting the gear necessary, raising the money and getting into shape.  Sounds like a lot of boot wearing, stair climbing and elliptical training!  Christian went by himself, deciding that that would be a more empowering experience, but hiked alongside other hikers on the same adventure from different countries (Utah, for example). He did say that if he did this again, he would take someone with him (his wife).

We got to see a video of his flight down to Tanzania in a small plane including his perspective jammed in right behind the pilot.

The initial part of actual hike was quite slow (polepole!), quite green and vegetative, and also not very steep. He had chosen the “whisky” route with his guide because it was easier and longer, but had more beautiful views and sweeping vistas.  He said that he wasn’t that sporty of a guy, and altitude sickness is a real factor and concern for hikers. As he got farther, the risk of altitude sickness became greater because the oxygen levels had dropped to 47%.  He had to breathe two breaths for every breath we take at sea level.  The landscape around him changed as well, becoming more barren and with less vegetation.  The pictures we saw showed rocky ground and up and down terrain. The path zigzagged across the mountain. It takes 5 days to climb to the summit, which involved careful planning to get to the summit on his birthday.

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On the route, Christian told us they mostly ate pasta, popcorn and soup.  Each group had an eating tent, and because Christian was on his own, he had a private dining tent.  He said that was a bit weird.

He also indicated that the hardest part of his journey was a 6 hour hike in the dark from base camp to the summit.  It had to be in the dark because the ground was shale and easier to grip when it was frozen.  Once he reached the top, he really enjoyed his 20 allotted minutes and also celebrating his actual birthday with his hiking guide and partners. He could only stay at the top for 20 minutes because it was an unnatural habitat for unadapted humans, and the oxygen levels were dangerously low if you stayed for long periods of time.

The hike down was a time for moving more quickly, (1 day and a half), for patience, and reflection.  He had some time to think about his achievement and to think about the future.  Once he got back to the base of the mountain, he flew to South Africa and promptly had a massage and a mani-pedi.  He’d never had a mani-pedi before, and thought maybe next time, just a massage.

We thought that his presentation was exceptional.  His said he was nervous but he was well prepared and adept at technology.  He called himself a nerd for using keynote on his Apple computer.  We liked how he expanded the timeline to include events before and after the actual climb. We felt like it was inspiring to look at a timeline this way because he looked at the event as the middle of the timeline and everything around it was just as important.  Even though those events were leading up to or going away from the climb, they kept us engaged because they helped us understand the bigger challenge and personal story that led to the climbing of Mount Kiliminjaro.

We really appreciated Christian’s visit to Charles Dickens because it helped us to envision our timeline project more clearly and to find a new perspective on this kind of adventure. We think that he is actually quite sporty, that he has a lot of commitment and that we admire his determination to a cause he believes in.

by Subway2go, Jr. fruitcake

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3 comments

  1. Aldwyn2000

    that’s okay, I am sad that the photographer missed me in the picture ’cause I was right next to Ben in the photo. 😦
    But the entry written here pretty much sums it all up.

  2. cm73 (@cm73)

    Hi everyone, wow, what a great blog! I am so impressed with this. I really enjoyed my time speaking to you, you all listened so well and asked great questions. It was a treat for me to come and meet you all. Thank you!

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