Kilimanjaro is a name that evokes an array of images and emotions. For Judge Julie Mogenis it called to her with the lure of the challenge, but even more so, it was the individual perseverance and emotional growth that became the pinnacle of her journey.
On September 1, 2013 at 7:01 AM a dream was realized when Judge Julie Mogenis reached the roof of Africa and summated Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania. Julie wasn’t alone on this epic journey; the expert and knowledgeable staff of Ultimate Kilimanjaro guided the way and she had lots of support in both spirit and sponsorship from the Prois performance camo gear she sported to the Garmin Fenix watch she depended on for everything from accurate health data, altitude, temperature… to time.
Kilimanjaro, the highest mountain in Africa rises above the jungle and beckons seductively to those who have come to take up the challenge. While there are many ways to experience the mountain on a range of levels for all who come, only a few pass the test of reaching the summit. Julie is one of those that took up the challenge and triumphed. Julie undertook the Kilimanjaro climb after nearly a year of health setbacks, culminating, just months before the climb, in a pelvic surgery on the area where she had previously been injured in a hunting accident. Like many of us she realized that she had no warranty on her parts and believed that “with the clock ticking” she needed to get this personal test accomplished and out-run any other health issues time is sure to present.
The highest freestanding mountain in the world, closest landmass to the sun Kilimanjaro is steeped in myth and legend. The third highest mountain in the world, measuring in at a breathtaking 19,741 feet at the summit the glacial peak and extreme cold seem paradoxical considering its proximity to the equator. These are some of the things that have earned this Tanzanian jewel the UNESCO World Heritage Site designation.
Julie’s trek began on the northern approach, slightly off the beaten path and considered more difficult by many. The ascent took the climbers through the full spectrum of climatic zones at about 5900 feet there exists a lush rainforest zone, teaming with wildlife including monkeys, duikers, bushbuck, leopards and lions…at 13,000 feet the low alpine zone starts and with it began some of the altitude challenges that plagued Julie and the crew…from nausea, confusion, lightheadedness to blinding headaches. The climbers resorted to playing nonsensical childhood games to keep their minds occupied and off the symptoms or the altitude. There is no way to know who it will affect and how badly. The air is increasingly thin, and cooler; land uncultivated and covered with alpine flowers, despite the elevation ele
phants, leopards and capes can sometimes still be spotted. At 16,000 feet the low alpine finally gives way to alpine desert, the location for the base camp in preparation for the final ascent by Julie, which began in the night, climbing in darkness in order to reach the peak at sunrise. The desert region is dry, desolate and extreme-freezing temperatures despite the strong, unfiltered sunlight. No plants or wildlife here, the acetic zone is devoid of any life save those only passing through on their deliberate trek to the top.
The descent seemed almost a breeze to the trio with a well deserved reward of fishing the Indian Ocean off the coast of Zanzibar to try out gear from Bass Pro Shops. Julie later went on a photo safari and birding with Zeiss in the Selous which resulted in some surprising adventures all their own.
Julie admits that this trek has taken some additional physical toll but the trade was worth the experience. Now she is ready to write that book, share stories of her soulful journey along with many humorous and inspirational anecdotes. In the future she envisions a possible return to Kili with a crew of folks wanting to test their limits and fill in their “Life to-do list.”
With thanks to all the sponsors and friends involved: Prois, Zeiss Optics, SOG, Bass Pro Shops, Garmin, Midland, Revision Eye Wear, Ultimate Kilimanjaro, Mike Killer, Jeff Abrams and SeeMeHunt.com
For the full story on Julie Mogenis and the Mount Kilimanjaro Summit Adventure contact info@worldwildadventures.