Favorite Mountains: Top 3

At the summit and all smiles: Volcano Villarica, Pucon, Chile

At the summit and all smiles: Volcano Villarica, Pucon, Chile

I’ve never met a mountain I didn’t like. In fact, it was just last year that my friend Clara broke it to me that just because a volcano is there, doesn’t mean I have to climb it. (Huh? What?) 

We were traveling around Central America (lots of potential mountain climbing) and in each spot I’d ask her if today we were going to climb the volcano. Clara kept saying “the next one.” Finally we were ending our trip in Costa Rica and I thought for sure we’d climb Volcan Arenal (1633 meters/5,357 miles).

We also happen to be staying at a most excellent resort at the base of the volcano with a full-service spa (we were splurging after saving a chunk of change taking local buses most of the way). The spa offered hot volcanic stone messages and volcanic mud masks. And then it finally clicked: Let the volcano come to you.

Majestic Mountains: Volcano Villarica, Chile

(see image above) The only mountain I’ve climbed with ice crampons and an ice pick. At first this active volcano seemed daunting, but by placing one foot in front of the other, you were at the top before you know it. But as cool at the summit was, the ride down was even better. Some crazy Israelies jumped feet first down the mountain, carving a luge-type tunnel for the rest of us to follow. Without hesitating, I jumped in the queue, ice pick over head, barreling down the mountainside as if on a water slide. I’m sure you could hear me screaming (mostly delight, a little fear) most of the way.

Mt. Kilamanjaro, Tanzania

Sick and barely standing on the rim of Mt. Kilamanjaro

“Poli Poli” is translated as “slowly slowly” — which is how you climb Kilimanjaro. Our guide Juma got 4 out of 5 of us to the rim of the volcano and 3 all the way to the summit.

Climbing all night, after 5 days of a steady ascent, the goal was to reach the summit at daybreak. Unfortunately, I succumbed to altitude sickness after the rim, but it was still a fantastic experience, which underscored that it is truly the journey, and not the destination, that is the real objective.


Mount Kinabalu, Borneo

Life on the edge in Borneo

The very first mountain I climbed, just me and my Sherpa. I was as unprepared as you could be (One bottle of water—no hiking boots, no day pack), and yet up we climbed, up and back in one day (most people take 2).

The feeling at the top was equal parts exhilaration and empowerment. It made me realize early on, that I could achieve anything I set my mind to. 

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This entry was posted on Wednesday, May 13th, 2009 and is filed under Travel Favorites, Travel Favorites.

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