Our own Rotarian from Whistler. Erika Durlacher told her story of the the September 28 2015  Kilimanjaro climb of 5895 metres or 19,341 feet with her daughter her daughter and friend Abbie Milavsky. This was an amazing sojourn, the magnitude of which many of us may never experience. They climbed through the eclipse of the super moon, altitude sickness, freezing temperatures, carrying backpacks and stumbling slowly as they ascended the world’s highest freestanding mountain and the highest mountain in Africa. Thankfully the temperature did not go below -20 as expected.

We had the great privilege to welcome the Hon. Diane Griffin, Canadian Senator for the province of PEI at our January 22, Tuesday evening at the Whistler Museum.  Diane is also a 25-year Rotarian for the Rotary Club of Charlottetown Royalty in PEI. Shown with Senator Griffin is Secretary  of the Rotary Club of Whistler Gill Forester.
Diane provided a very informing overview of the “new” Canadian Senate where Senators are now selected by what skills and experience they can offer the Senate, rather than appointed by the Political Party in power, sometimes based on how much money the appointee raised for the party.  When a vacancy occurs (mandatory retirement at age 75) a “position opening” is posted, just like in private industry.  Any Canadian can apply.  The position is still “appointed” by the Prime Minister at the time, however with the intent of appointing the best qualified, regardless of political affiliation. 

Current Senators for the most part now independent and can vote with an independent view. There remains a small caucus of Conservator Senators who typically vote along party lines (whipped). Diane described a bill that she proposed, that ultimately was approved by both the House of Commons and the Senate. The bill formally recognized Charlottetown as the birthplace of the Canadian Federation.

Diane also provided a brief update on her Rotary Club (50+ members) and the primary fund raising cause they are working on, having the Dolly Parton Imagination Library, a  book provision charity adopted in PEI.  The charity provides a book a month for every child from birth to age 6.

The ascent of this mountain, 3.66 miles high was a goal of a lifetime for Erika, a symbolic journey made on behalf of her husband Peter who passed from their loving relationship from the effects of Alzheimer’s disease. The profound effect of this loss has moved Erika to a high level of dedication in many ways to assist others facing the unknown void of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
 
The guided safari was 5 days up and 2 days down on the chosen Rongai Route, walking slowly.  2 days were spent at about 14,000 feet to allow for acclimatization.
 
Looming large over the East African Savannah, and providing what is arguably the most spectacular sunrise venue in Africa, is the majestic summit of Kilimanjaro, Uhuru Peak is not just the top of the mountain, is the top of the entire continent.   However Kilimanjaro has much more to offer than climbing the highest peak, in a matter of days you will climb from the Equator to what feels like the Arctic, moving through grasslands, tropical rainforest, alpine meadows, and dessert uplands to snow and ice. 
 
For example: Day 1, Nalemuru Gate to Simba camp on the  North East side of the mountain, near the border of  Kenya approximately one hour by truck, our only ride, altitude 2,200 metres. Then we began our first day walk, 3-4 hours through farmland gradually ascending through  the forest, to the camp which is clear of the forest at 2,600 metres.              
Preparing to hiking at such an altitude is difficult. Many factors will affect the performance of the individual climbers.  There is a huge mental component in dealing with the unfamiliar influence of thin air, height sickness, sleeping in a tent in your day clothing, cold nights, maintaining personal enthusiasm and drive, uncomfortable situations, team dynamics, and a host of other issues that the mountain environment creates.  
Cardiovascular fitness is the key and a variety of activities should be undertaken. Jogging, swimming, hiking, cross country skiing, snowshoeing, and similar activities provide a solid base.  One trains for endurance as opposed to power.  Exercising for longer period s, in the mid-range of your target training zone is the focus.  Once a week an intense workout at the high end of your upper target training zone to increase your anaerobic threshold and your hearts ability to handle the stress of a very long steep hike In extraordinary conditions for the average person.  The Grouse Grind, Lynn Peak, the Lions, Garibaldi Lake, Rainbow Lake, Elfin Lake and Wedgemount Lake are some of the recommended training hikes.
The hiker should walk with a 20 lb. pack, learn to walk on uneven terrain and occasionally exercise point of balance using the hands, are all great assets to be able to stay with the team and make it to the top of KILI.  
 Eat nutritious foods and get lots of sleep.  One should be willing to pay the price in effort to meet the goal with an enthusiastic approach to the preparation that is required.  For example:  a training schedule would start at 30 minutes a day in January progressing to 2 hours every second day in September, plus long hikes not included in the training schedule once a week.
 
While climbing Kilimanjaro will inspire you to greater levels of physical and mental strength, your efforts on the mountain, benefit both directly and indirectly the Tanzanian Tourist Industry and for those of us wishing to climb for a charity of choice your efforts are even more compounded. 
Well done Erika Durlacher!
 
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