A 75-year-old Evans man and his 46-year-old son left Friday on "a chance of a lifetime" trip to climb Africa's Mount Kilimanjaro.
If all goes as planned today, Jim Holder, his son Jeff and their hiking companions should be halfway to the summit of the 19,335-foot east African volcano. Located in northeastern Tanzania, it is Africa's highest peak and the tallest in the world not attached to a mountain range.
Jeff Holder, also an Evans resident, said he and his father have prepared for months to make the climb, which he described as more of a prolonged, high-altitude hike.
"My dad and I are not mountain climbers, but Mount Kilimanjaro is not a technical climb," he said.
To get ready, the Holders stepped up their exercise routines in recent months.
Jim works out regularly at a gym and takes yoga classes. Both men started walking longer distances carrying packs.
"I feel like physically, I'm in great shape," Jim said. "Mentally, I'm a little apprehensive."
The trip was arranged by Mark Elliot, a family friend from California and experienced climber of Kilimanjaro. Elliot proposed the trip about two years ago, and in November he and Jim climbed the 14,000-foot White Mountain in the high Sierras as a dry run, Jim said.
The Holders departed Atlanta on Friday evening, with plans to touch down in Nairobi, Kenya, on Saturday. They were joined by Elliot, his wife and boss, and entered Tanzania on Sunday.
The group will have communication with family if necessary by way of a satellite phone. Their provisions, gear and tents will be obtained locally, and they will have a guide and 10 porters along for the trip.
To acclimate themselves to the altitude, which can cause debilitating sickness and death in extreme cases, the Holders and their companions will take six to seven days to hike to the summit, Jeff said.
During that week, the party will climb through rain forests and an alpine desert to reach an ice capped volcanic rim. They plan to camp below the rim of the main peak and complete the last few hundred feet as the sun rises, Jim said.
At that altitude, he said, the curvature of the Earth is clearly visible.
Though it will take six to seven days to get to the summit, the party will return to the base of the mountain in a day. After that, they plan to go on a safari in the Serengeti before returning home Feb. 6.
"I hear when you go to Africa and you come back you are never the same," Jeff said. "It's pretty much everything I think about right now."
The Columbia County News-Times ©2013. All Rights Reserved.