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Sherrilene Classen Summits Mount Kilimanjaro


On February 11, 2023, Sherrilene Classen, Ph.D., professor and chair of the department of occupational therapy at the University of Florida College of Public Health and Health Professions, summited Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania.


“Following the Lemosho route, crossing five temperature zones and with temperatures ranging from 95° F in the rainforest to minus 20° F on the Vulcanic summit, I summited Mount Kilimanjaro at 19,341 feet, on Feb. 11th, 2023!! After seven days on the mountain, we reached basecamp, known as the upper Kosovo camp, and started our ascent at 11.30 p.m. on the eve of Feb 10th, to summit at 6:05 a.m. the morning of Feb 11th.


During this nighttime ascent, we traversed snow and sleet and bitter cold, and managed to negotiate — with headlamps in a pole-pole way (Swahili for slowly-slowly) — our way to the summit of Uhuru peak, the highest peak on the mountain. This accomplishment was the most physically exhilarating, mentally grueling, and spiritually transformational and exquisite experience that I’ve ever had in my life! On Uhuru peak the temperature was minus 20° F and with the windchill it was minus 50° F, and the wind speed gusts were ~ 50 mph. We had to get up and down to summit as quickly as possible due to hypothermia setting in, and as such we could not spend a lot of time on Uhuru peak. But I do remember the most spectacular and jaw dropping awesome sunrise that I have ever seen in my life as I was literally standing on the ‘rooftop of Africa.’ Mount Kilimanjaro is the highest free-standing mountain in the world—and the highest mountain in Africa.


From my initial reflections related to this experience, I want to share that we all should consider pursuing a lofty goal or big dream, i.e., one that is simultaneously scaring the daylights out of you — and that is so fricking exciting. One pursues such a dream with adequate planning, preparation, persistence, and passion; one step at a time (literally); in a calculated fashion, with an awareness of the contextual demands/risks and opportunities; and, with a sense of expectation, awe, and wonder. Then, before one’s eyes, the dream starts to manifest and a new reality unfolds, one that facilitates inner transformation and creates a sense of harmony and connectedness to an infinite, omnipotent, omnipresent, and omniscient intelligence! I have learned and grown so much from this experience and am thrilled to have had this incredible opportunity!”


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