Class to summit Africa’s highest peak

Students listen to Brian Wallace
Photo curtesy of Gary Morris

This week, students and faculty members continued their preparation for their climb in January of Mount Kilimanjaro.

The group, PED 399, led by Gary Morris, Director of Career Services, and Mehran Nojan, Director of Institutional Research and Assessment, will be training for the journey over the next few months in New York. Participants will hike through climate zones ranging from tropical forests to arctic forests in their seven-day journey the top of the mountain.

The class met Tuesday to learn about the type of gear they would need to pack. Greg Zagar and Kate Goloski, representatives of Eastern Mountain Sports, shared their experience and knowledge about mountain climbing equipment. Zagar and Goloski have worked for Eastern Mountain Sports for four and two years, respectively.

One of the most enforced messages was that wearing cotton clothing would be disastrous. At the beginning of the class, Zagar soaked a cotton tee shirt along with a synthetic fiber T-shirt, and hung both by the door to prove his point. When leaving, the class could feel both shirts, and recognize that the cotton shirt had not dried, while the synthetic had. According to Goloski, cotton is an inferior material because, “it does not maintain its insulating properties when wet.”

Another important precaution the class learned about is face protection. Morris climbed Kilimanjaro in 2007 and recalled that “when you’re above the treeline, dust becomes a real problem.” The use of masks and specialized sunglasses is necessary due to the combination of flying dust and glaring ice.

The climbers will face many challenges besides the physical difficulty of climbing the highest peak in Africa. Zagar told the class that “the hardest thing [they] are going to hit on this trip is the altitude.” Morris elaborated, telling the class that when they approach the summit, simple tasks such as tying shoelaces can be strenuous due to the lack of oxygen.

Although the trip promises to be difficult, the group members remain confident. One member of the group, Nick Hackenfort, remains very enthusiastic about the opportunity.

“I’ve always done active things, but nothing like this,” Hackenfort said.

Morris and Nojan are also very happy with the progress the group has made.

Taking a student class to Kilimanjaro has been a dream that took “two years to make it a reality,” Nojan said.