Contributed by Miranda Naiman, founder and managing partner of Empower, a Tanzanian consulting firm and a member of the Entrepreneurs’ Organization.
It’s 2:17am on December 17 2020 and my tightly booted feet trudge gradually forward in zig-zag formation up a 70 percent incline in the eerie darkness.
An artic breeze bites my exposed face—the balaclava pulled down to allow extra oxygen deep into my lungs. In the distance, a row of headlights glistens in the night.
It’s Day 4 of our Kilimanjaro journey and we summit at Gillman’s Point at 6:34am, ultimately rewarding us with a phenomenal view of the sun rising behind Mawenzi Peak. We lose two members of our party along the way who succumbed to the harsh conditions.
A dramatic array of pinks, purples and oranges light up the morning sky— the spectacle reflecting the gravity of the next moment’s decision: to proceed to Uhuru Point or descend.
This was a decision I had made long before beginning the six-day trek: “Go hard or go home” has always been my unofficial life motto. My intention to sit beneath the Uhuru signpost was set weeks prior. This was pure competition against myself—the power of my mind, the strength of my body and the willpower to stay focused against all odds.
The final battle to Uhuru took a further two and a half hours. my heart pounded relentlessly in my chest from the slightest of motion. The true gift of realising my aspiration was absorbing the stillness of the world: endless views of the glaciers as the sun danced on the icicles. For the first time in a while, I was fully centred and aligned with nature, at one with the mountain.