"There, ahead, all he could see, as wide as all the
great, high, and unbelievably white in the sun
was the square top of Kilimanjaro"
Ernest Hemingway (The Snows Of Kilimanjaro)
This is one of the great panaromas in all the world. The flat roof of
Africa explodes out of the savanna to a height of 19,341 feet. This massive
dome is 50 miles long and 25 miles wide, making it the largest freestanding
mountain in the world (not part of any range). The sad transformation
in our lifetime, of course, is to watch helplessly as the once huge glaciers
melt away like hot butter from atop this equatorial wonder. Soon Hemingway's
"White roof of Africa" will be totally slate gray.
1970 I entered medical school and became friends with one of my anatomy
instructors. Tom was training to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro while I struggled
with a mountain of medical texts. I envied his passion, the single-minded
determination with which he pursued his quest. I vowed that one day I
would follow in his footsteps to Uhuru, atop Kilimanjaro, the highest
peak in Africa. In September of 1997, that dream came true.