On March 1, 2018, a daring group of dedicated vegans started out on their mission to scale Mt. Kilimanjaro on the first all-vegan expedition to Africa’s highest peak. We’re delighted to say that the group successfully scaled the summit with a success rate of 82%, nearly double the average rate.
The first all-vegan team has successfully reached the summit of Mt. Kilimanjaro with an impressive 82% success rate, which is nearly double the 44% average for a 6-day climb. What makes the achievement even more impressive is the fact the group had taken the Machame (aka “Whiskey”) route, one of the most beautiful but challenging paths.
What is even more remarkable is that the group consisted of climbers of varying experience ranging in age from 18 to 70. It was one climber’s very first trek with an overnight outing. Another had never scaled a mountain higher than 1000 feet. But what they all had in common was a devotion to whole food, plant-based nutrition and a vegan lifestyle that avoids animal products of any kind, including in clothing and gear.
“It was the hardest thing we’ve ever done,” says San Diegan Mike Weinberg, organizer of the largest and perhaps first all-vegan team ever to attempt Mt. Kilimanjaro, at 19,341 feet, Africa’s tallest mountain.
“On our fourth day, after 8 or more hours of strenuous hiking, all 17 of us reached Barafu high camp at 15,000 feet,” recalled Weinberg. “That’s 500 feet higher than Mt. Whitney, the highest peak in the lower-48 states.”
“With a late dinner and just a few hours rest, we began our final 4000-foot ascent to the summit in the middle of the night in subfreezing temperatures. After an excruciating 7+ hours of ultra-slow, step-by-step effort, legs screaming for oxygen and brains urging us to quit, 14 of us reached the summit!”
The idea for the trek originated when Weinberg was seeking a challenge for his 65th year, 21 as a vegan. Concerned with cross-contamination and uncomfortable dining around others eating animal products, he arranged with a reputable guide company, Ultimate Kilimanjaro, to provide 100% vegan food and equipment.
To recruit like-minded climbers, he created the Vegan Kilimanjaro Plant-Based Nutrition Challenge! With social media to spread the word, the team grew to include international participants from Canada, Norway, South Africa, France, and Switzerland.
“We even had an amazing 3-generation black vegan family – grandparents, parents, a son, and two daughters – join us from Silver Spring, Maryland,” said Weinberg.
The capstone of the trek was the unfurling of a banner at the foot of the famous Uhuru Peak sign promoting the life-saving mission of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine’s (PCRM) Barnard Medical Center.
To continue to demonstrate to the world the heights of achievement possible on a plant-based diet, Weinberg has begun gathering names for Vegan Kilimanjaro 2. But he will recommend that its organizer book the more “humane” 7-day climb, so that summit day is less of an ordeal.
For his next all-vegan adventure, “Vegan Antarctica” and “Vegan Inca Trail” are on the shortlist. To contact Weinberg and/or see photos and read first-hand accounts of the Kilimanjaro expedition, which took place from February 25 to March 2, visit www.facebook.com/vegankili.