Chatfield man completes climb to top of Mount Kilimanjaro
Proper preparation leads to accomplishment of dream
The Chatfield News needs to correct two items in last week's story about Glenn Hisey and his climb to the top of Mt. Kilimanjaro. Firstly, Glenn Hisey is not the "owner" of the Pope & Young Club. He clarified that The Pope & Young Club is a non-profit bowhunting organization, not owned by anyone. Hisey serves as the vice-president of the club and museum director. Secondly, Mt. Kilimanjaro is higher than any mountain in the lower 48 states, but both Mt. McKinley and Mt. Logan in the Yukon, are higher and both of those are in North America.
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Tuesday, November 06, 2012 9:20 AM
Glenn Hisey can summit up with "adventure."
Glenn Hisey of Chatfield and his daughter, Kristina Fleming, of Australia, stand at the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania. The two completed their climb on Oct. 1, reaching the summit at 7:30 a.m.
It's something he's always taken a shot at.
"I've been a bow-hunter and outdoor enthusiast for a long time, and I have traveled all over North America," said Hisey, a Chatfield resident and owner of Pope and Young Club in Chatfield. "During my hunting adventures, I've climbed quite a few mountains. I've always been excited about new adventures."
Hisey is now a certificate-holding Mount Kilimanjaro climber, having gone to Tanzania with his daughter, Kristina Fleming, in late September to approach the summit at dawn.
"In early March this year, I saw an article about a guy who climbed Mount Kilimanjaro, and the next time I talked to our daughter, Kristina, who lives in Australia, I mentioned that I saw the article and that I was always interested in climbing a truly high mountain. She said she'd go with me, so it was too late to back out."
Hisey said he started looking online, trying to find someone to go with them as it is required to have a guide accompany climbers up Mount Kilimanjaro.
"We found Team Kilimanjaro in Tanzania. I started checking their references, and they looked good," he continued. "In mid-April, we confirmed our reservations, and we'd already booked our airline reservations the first part of April."
In order for the 72-year-old to tackle the journey, he had to be certain he was in great health. "I visited the doctor and did a stress test, and he told me that I had a perfect test. The next step was a major diet - from the first part of April until I left, I dropped 50 pounds to get ready for the climb. I give a lot of credit to my wife for pushing me to diet. Her effort and the slow loss of weight meant the climb would be easier on my knees," explained Hisey.
Throughout the summer, he walked at least three miles each weekday and 12 to 15 miles each Saturday and Sunday. In August, Hisey held a three-day practice climb of Pike's Peak in Colorado to prepare for climbing Mount Kilimanjaro.
"By the departure date of Sept. 23, I felt in shape and ready for the trip," he said.
He met Fleming in Tanzania and the pair got into Africa one day ahead of their planned departure to ensure they had all their luggage and supplies, and also to take a day's safari of Ashura National Park.
"We saw 14 different species of African animals," Hisey recounted, "Giraffes to warthogs. It was a really interesting day and a way to unwind and prepare for the climb."
Hisey and Fleming had a crew of 12 people working to assist only them on the seven-day climb.
"Each day, we walked 12 to 15 miles and we had a support crew of 12 people helping us," Hisey recalled. "We had a very good team...we owe them credit for helping us reach the summit. There was a guide, an assistant guide, a cook and nine porters and equipment for two of us. The only thing we had to carry was a backpack with our rain gear and things for the day, such as sunhats, sunscreen and water...we carried five liters of water every day."
The entourage entered the trail on the Rongai Route, with its gates only about a mile from the Kenya border.
"We climbed Mawenzi Turn part of the way in to acclimate ourselves to the altitude - we'd climb high every day and camp lower," Hisey explained.
The tour started at the Rongai gate, then stopped at the Rongai Cave, then at Kikelewa Cave, then climbed Mawenzi Turn, which is 4,958 meters high.
On the fourth night, the group went back to Rongai, and on the fifth night, it stopped at the School Hut campsite.
On the morning of the sixth day, the members of the group started out at midnight for the peak of Kilimanjaro, and arrived at the summit at 7:30 a.m.
"The sun was coming up on one side and the moon was going down in the west," Hisey described. "The climb was 19,400 feet total, and more than a 45-degree angle, closer to a 50-degree angle, so there were lots of switchbacks. The peak itself is three different peaks - the first is Gilman's, the second is Stella Peak, and the third is Uhuru Peak. It's a big crater with lots of glacier, a bit of fresh snow. After reaching the peak, we came back down to Kiko Hut, then spent that evening at Horombo Hut. The next day, we made a 15-mile walk to Marangu."
Hisey explained that in order for people who have not climbed mountains such as Kilimanjaro before, the altitude change and thinner oxygen concentration might seriously affect their bodily functions.
"They're very concerned about whether a person can take the altitude, because without oxygen, it affects different people in a lot of ways," he said. "There's at least one guide or porter for each person who climbs the peak because if they start noticing changes in a person's behavior, they carry them down the peak as quickly as they can."
Hisey said, however, to be at the summit was probably, more than anything else, was impressive simply because of the height of the mountain.
"It's the highest peak in Africa and the highest free-standing mountain in the world," he added. "Many consider climbing the big mountains to be their goal...climbing each higher one is their continuous goal, to be among the elite of the mountain climbers."
Kilimanjaro is higher than any mountain in North America, and there are only two mountains in the world that are higher - Mount McKinley and also Mount Logan in the Yukon Territory.
Upon returning to the mountain's base, Hisey and his daughter celebrated with Team Kilimanjaro by going to the nearest village and enjoying dinner together.
"When we came down, the first town we came to was Moshe, and we had cheeseburgers there. All the porters joined us, and we treated all of them to a cheeseburger," he said. "We had them sign our Mount Kilimanjaro certificates, and they were so excited because nobody had ever had them do that before. I brought back a little rock from the summit, too."
Hisey described their climb as "something really unique, a very special moment, something that long after I'm gone, my daughter can say she did with her dad."
He said he has done a lot of different things with his son and daughter who live nearby, Kevin and Karla, but this is something special that he was able to do with Kristina.
"She lives in Australia because she got a scholarship through the Rotary Club here in Chatfield and she wanted to travel abroad, so I told her not to meet a boy she liked, but she did anyway and married him - so we don't see her very often," Hisey explained. "That's been 12 years ago, and we've always been outdoors people, enjoyed hiking and doing crazy things. We really gave a lot of credit to this team for making this climb happen."
Fleming wrote on the Team Kilimanjaro Facebook page, "It was an awesome experience on TK 7 Rongai, and I had full confidence in Team Kilimanjaro. By the end of the climb, I knew all our team by name, and we appreciate all that they did for us, and we'll continue to think of them with thanks and gratitude."
Having made the trek to the summit, Hisey is eyeing the "highest mountain in Australia" next year, if possible, so that he and his daughter can make more memories.
"We want to try it so we can cross two continents' mountains off our list," Hisey concluded.