Next week, a team of five adventurers will set out to climb Kilimanjaro, the tallest peak in Africa, without wearing shoes. The group, which will be joined by a support crew of five as well, are part of an organization called Barefoot Impi, which strives to accomplish a number of outdoor challenges, while helping to raise funds for charity as well. In this case, their chosen beneficiary is the Red Cross Children’s Hospital in Cape Town, South Africa.
The Kilimanjaro Challenge, as the team is calling it, will see the climbers covering approximately 65km (40 miles) up the tallest free standing mountain in the world. They’ve created strict rules for themselves regarding what it means to be going barefoot, and in a nutshell, that means they hike all day, everyday, for a preset distance, without wearing shoes or any other kind of artificial or natural substances on their feet.
In addition to the rocky, and often steep, trails the climbers will also have to deal with altitude and cold temperatures on Kili. The mountain stands 5894 meters (19,340 ft) in height, so needless to say, the thin air can be a problem for some people. Additionally, temperatures at the summit can be quite cold, and depending on weather conditions, they could easily be walking in conditions that are below freezing. That will come near the end of the expedition of course, after several days of barefoot hiking on less than ideal routes.
Having trekked Kili myself in the past, I can honestly say that there is no way I could even imagine undertaking this climb. The volcanic rock that is strewn about the area is rough, hard, and offers plenty of sharp edges. This will not be a walk in the park (pun fully intended!) and I can’t even imagine what their feet are going to look like when they’re done.
Still, its a great cause and a unique approach to climbing a mountain that has been scaled hundreds of thousands of times. I wish them all luck in the journey and hope they get up and down safe. You can follow their progress, starting next week, at BarefootImpi.org.