Back in October, Cory Clendenning jetted off to Africa to hike up Mount Kilimanjaro with the hopes of raising $10,000 for The Mustard Seed. After sixteen days abroad, and five grueling days on the mountain, Cory is back at home after successfully reaching the summit and raising $8,000 towards his goal.
Cory had spent months preparing for the physical challenges of the climb, but it was the mental component that proved to be the much larger challenge. The weather on Mount Kilimanjaro is varied and unpredictable, and the drastic changes in climate combined with physical exhaustion took its toll on him after a few days.
“Being cold, wet, and tired plays a big factor on the mental side of things.”
Climbing a mountain is demanding in and of itself, but doing it through wet days and cold nights can wear down even the most seasoned climbers. It’s a sport that requires strength of both the body and the mind. The climb can take anywhere between five to nine days, and Cory managed to do it in five.
Even with physical training and mental preparation, proper acclimatization is the key to a successful climb. Oxygen depletion is the primary reason that less than half of all climbers actually reach the summit, and even physically fit climbers have been forced to turn back.
“You go at a very slow pace, rest, and drink water often. If you’re in decent shape, you can do it.”
After a five day hike, Cory celebrates as he stands at the top of Kilimanjaro.
On summit day, the weather was cold, snowy, and windy. In order to make sure that the summit could be reached during the daytime, the final stretch of the hike began just after midnight. The most memorable part of his trip came a few hours later when he finally reached the top of the mountain.
“You round a corner, and suddenly you can see the sign in the distance, and your adrenaline kicks in because you realize you are essentially done.”
After a well-earned day of rest, the remainder of Cory’s trip was spent exploring Nairobi and its surrounding areas. He also had the chance to visit the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, an animal sanctuary focused on rehabilitating wildlife like elephants, rhinos, and giraffes and reintroducing them back into the wild.
A group of orphaned elephants huddle near their caretakers.
So what’s next on Cory’s bucket list? He isn’t planning on climbing another mountain anytime soon, but he hopes to take a trip to Machu Picchu and plans on returning to Africa for a safari in a few years.