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Lavelle climbs atop Mt. Kilimanjaro

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Junior Roshni Lavelle had been living above the clouds for about four days now. Three months of extensive training and a day of hiking up Mt. Kilimanjaro had put her here, and she was about to reach the top. It was around 5 a.m. when Roshni finally saw the sun rising over the curve of the Earth.

Lavelle’s desire to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro started last summer when she visited her godfather, who has also hiked to the top. After listening to his stories, she was hooked.“This is something that my dad and I wanted to do, so we put in the research, and we did it,” Lavelle said. “You have to put in some forethought and go with a licensed guide.”

Through a travel company, Lavelle and her dad signed up for the climb this past summer, but the entire process wasn’t that simple. A trip like this would require training in order to climb the mountain. “It’s a combination of a couple things,” Lavelle said. “You have to get used to carrying a lot of weight on your back. But it’s a lot of endurance, because when you’re walking on the mountain, you’re walking between eight to ten miles straight.”

Lavelle spent weekends walking and using the stair stepper at the gym. It took three months of extensive training before she was ready to climb the mountain, and once she was ready, she still had to make the trip over to Africa.

“We were in a group of nine people,” Lavelle said, which included her dad and other tourists as well. Their group also had a tour guide to lead them and boarders to make food. From there, they began the ascent up Mt. Kilimanjaro. “It takes five days up and two days down,” Lavelle said. “It’s a week to do the entire mountain.”

On the day of the final ascent, the hikers camp out until 10 p.m., and then begin to hike upwards in order to reach the top of the mountain for sunrise. “You’re literally hiking straight through the night,” Lavelle said. “You get to the top at about 5a.m., and you see the sunrise, and you’re up so high. It’s the coolest thing ever.”

But there were obstacles, too. The warmest temperature on the day they reached the mountain was 16 degrees. “It’s the middle of Africa’s winter. When you’re down lower, it’s more of a moderate temperature, but each day, the higher you get, the colder it gets,” Lavelle said.

“The biggest obstacle is the altitude sickness,” Lavelle said. “You have to be on a bunch of different medications to prevent it.” According to Lavelle, some of the most uncomfortable symptoms of altitude sickness include a pounding headache, nausea, and dizziness. Other than that, the actual climb wasn’t too challenging. “There wasn’t any technical climbing, like the kind that you think with ice picks. There are parts where you’re climbing up cliffs,” Lavelle said. “It’s like rock climbing; it’s fun!”

If faced with the same decision, Lavelle would choose to make the climb again. “My family does a fair bit of traveling, so this is something that I think I’m really fortunate to have [experienced].”

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Lavelle climbs atop Mt. Kilimanjaro