Barefoot Kilimanjaro trekkers complete climb

Last week we told you about a group of climbers from South Africa who were attempting to summit Mt. Kilimanjaro, the tallest peak in Africa, without wearing shoes. Over the weekend, these barefoot adventurers completed their climb, but not without overcoming plenty of challenges along the way.

The team, which calls itself the Barefoot Impi, made their final push to the top of the 19,340-foot Kilimanjaro early Saturday morning. Setting out from the Kibo Huts, they trekked for more than four hours before reaching Gilman’s Point, one of the more famous landmarks on the way to the summit. At that point, they had walked barefoot for hours in below-freezing temperatures while dealing with steep slopes littered with loose volcanic scree. The next stage of the hike wouldn’t be any easier however, as two feet of fresh snow had hit the top of the mountain a few days ealier, and they had to make the rest of the climb in icy-powder – sans shoes.

Eventually they did make it to the top, and all five members of the team who had set out on this barefoot quest managed to complete the trek without any kind of natural or artificial protection on their feet. That’s a fairly remarkable accomplishment considering the temperatures and surface conditions they had to endure to get there. You can read all about their final day on the mountain in a blog post here.

As we mentioned in our original story, this charity climb was undertaken to raise funds for the Red Cross Children’s Hospital in Cape Town, which is one of the first of its kind on the entire continent. No word on whether or not the Barefoot Impi team reached their fund raising goals, but clearly they were successful on their venture to scale the mountain.

My feet hurt just thinking about it.

[Photo courtesy]

Climbers attempting Kilimanjaro barefoot

A team of South African climbers has traveled to Tanzania, where they hope to climb Kilimanjaro, the tallest mountain on the African continent, without wearing shoes. Over the next few days, these barefoot adventurers hope to scale the mountain in an effort to raise funds for a children’s hospital back home.

According to the group’s website, the team of five climbers, and their support crew, arrived on the mountain yesterday and started their ascent. Early on, they passed through a pine forest, which provided a soft surface for their bare feet, but as the day wore on, they entered a tropical rainforest, where the trail gave way to gravel instead. While that proved to be a more challenging surface to hike on, they still managed to reach their first camp without too many problems.

In the days ahead, things won’t quite be so easy however. Today, they’ll leave the forests behind completely and move into the alpine marshlands of Kilimanjaro. That zone is punctuated with lush grasses and strange plants, which, aside from a few thorny bushes, shouldn’t offer too much of a problem either. After that, it is on to the alpine desert, which is much rockier and harder to walk on, even while wearing boots. The final push to the summit will include plenty of volcanic scree, not to mention snow and ice. The cold temperatures on the final approach to the 19,340-foot summit may actually numb their feet from the pain – that is if they don’t lose a toe or two to frostbite first.

In order to make this barefoot climb, the team has established a set of rules that will govern their approach. Those rules dictate that they must walk or climb every meter of the mountain without wearing any kind of artificial or natural substance on their feet. Furthermore, they pledge to walk each day between their camps in this fashion, although it seems likely they’ll put on some comfy slippers when they reach their end point for the day.

By undertaking this trek, the team is hoping to raise funds for the Red Cross Children’s Hospital in South Africa. 100% of the proceeds generated from the climb will go to that organization, which is one of the first of its kind in Africa.

Having climbed Kilimanjaro myself, I can’t imagine attempting it without shoes. My feet hurt at the end of a long day as it was, and that was while wearing a good pair of hiking boots. Going completely barefoot seems crazy to me, and I’ll be incredibly impressed if they actually make it.