Navratilova to Climb Kilimanjaro

I was just reading about Martina Navratilova, the greatest women’s tennis player of all time in my view, started climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro today. She is doing it to raise awareness for cancer, for which she is a survivor, and to raise money for a charity. I am very happy that she is doing it and I hope she succeeds and makes it to the summit where she says she will hit some tennis balls off the summit. I’d imagine they could be launched pretty far at that altitude and thin air. She is quite a woman and has led quite a life through championships, controversy, communism and cancer. She also won more Wimbledon’s than anyone else in history, men or women. Good for Martina and I look forward to seeing her on the summit, which always brings back great memories for me.

For those of you new to my site, I climbed Kilimanjaro which is just under 20,000 feet at 5895 meters, with my friend Jake in 2006 for my 28th birthday. It was the most awesome travel experience of my life and a huge feeling of accomplishment. Tough weather conditions and altitude make it a very tough climb and you never know how your body will respond. We both made it but not without some struggles and we are both in good shape.

I have recently had two friends from high school who attempted the climb. One made it and one didn’t and the one that didn’t is a spin instructor and does triathlons etc. Meaning, it doesn’t matter how good a shape you’re in because altitude affects everyone differently and you never know until you get up there. 10-15 people die per year climbing due to altitude sickness or accidents.

I have confidence that Navratilova and her immense drive and competitive spirit will get her up there but many great people have failed, including former President Jimmy Carter, who actually went up with the same guide I had. Anyway, I will be watching Martina’s progress and rooting her on.

If you want to read more about my climb or see a slideshow about it that my buddy Jake put together, just click on the links to the right of this page where it says Mt. Kilimanjaro Journal and Slideshow.

Also check out my Facebook fan page and become a fan.

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  1. Good for her

  2. As most of you are probably aware by now based upon the fact I received about 20 emails this morning about Martina not being able to finish the climb.

    I am bummed about it but it is a very difficult climb and as I said, you never know how your body will respond to altitude.

    I give her all the credit for trying and for raising money for cancer research and for continuing her incredible life. I hope her group is able to summit or as many of them as possible at least. Day 4 is a trying day on Kili and altitude sickness should never be taken lightly as it can kill you on Kilimanjaro…it is a true mental and physical battle with yourself and the mountain.

  3. Hi, Lee:

    I traveled to Tanzania and climbed Mount Kilimanjaro with former President and Mrs. Jimmy Carter in 1988 when I worked for them as a personal aide from The Carter Center in Atlanta. I don’t know what constitutes “failed” as you wrote: “many great people have failed, including former President Jimmy Carter, who actually went up with the same guide I had.” Me, President Carter, his sons Chip and Jack all made it to Gilman’s Point. I have a pic of President Carter and I on my Facebook page. The only reason we could not continue along the crater rim to the highest elevation was due to severe snow cover and bad weather which made walking the rim extremely dangerous. Mrs. Carter had made it to 17,000 feet, but had to turn back to the nearest camp because one of her grandchildren became ill. I consider President Carter’s climb to the crater rim (Gilman’s Point) a successful climb to the top of Mount Kilimanjaro and not a failure, unless it is commonly considered a failure to make it to Gilman’s Point. Major General Sarakikya was our main guide to the top. You can read President Carter’s account of the climb (and about how ill I became from altitude sickness) in his revised edition of “An Outdoor Journal” published in 1988 (softback). Would love to visit Tanzania again someday and am envious that you continue to travel to Africa as a career. -Christopher Mitchell, former Director of Correspondence to President Carter (1985-1994).

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