Senior Xavier Rolston is Tower's Director of Multimedia for the 2023-2024 school year. Rolston joined Tower staff last year, where he served as the Web...
Scaling new heights: A student’s journey up Mount Kilimanjaro
April 26, 2023
Masters students achieve many remarkable feats during their independent time, setting goals for themselves and challenges they hope to overcome. One such feat was junior Samuel Navin’s recent spring accolade — climbing the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro.
Located in Tanzania, Mount Kilimanjaro is one of the most topographically prominent peaks on Earth, standing at a towering height of 19,340 feet, making it the tallest mountain in Africa. The hike is just under 40 miles long, and takes five to nine days to complete.
Navin said climbing Kilimanjaro had been a dream of his for a while, and climbing the summit this break was a huge accomplishment for him. “I’ve always had the dream of one day climbing the seven summits — the tallest mountain in each of the 7 continents,” he said. “And that’s one down for me now.”
This passion has been one of Navin’s for a long time. He explained his interest in hiking and backpacking was sparked years ago with a summer immersion experience. “I started going to an adventure camp in the Catskill mountain range starting in sixth grade. We learned basic survival skills, we learned how to camp and how to cook, and went climbing in the Catskills,” Navin said. “I fell in love with climbing and backpacking, and just being immersed in nature.”
On Navin’s particular route, which lasted seven days, over one-third of Kilimanjaro climbers don’t make it to the top. Preparing for the hike took months of training, which Navin said was essential to making his experience run more smoothly.
“Before this, I had really never done a climb at that altitude, and I’d mostly done hikes and climbs nearby with my mom,” he said. “I went to the gym and wore a weighted backpack on a stairstepper. I bought and broke in new hiking boots. Nothing could really prepare you for the altitude though — that you just have to take as you go.”
Despite rigorous training, the hike itself proved challenging. Navin remarked, “It’s definitely the hardest thing I’ve ever done. Physically and paired with the altitude, it was very strenuous, and you tire up very quickly. The pace is less than half of normal walking pace.
The physical struggle was notable for Navin, but he explained that mental fortitude was perhaps the most important part of his journey.
“Definitely on summit night, I think everybody thought about giving up every second of the way there, including me. Seeing the other people in your group do it as well is really what keeps you going,” Navin said. “You have to give 150% of your mental fortitude, and without everyone else around you also climbing there’s no way anybody could individually do it.”
Navin was nothing short of grateful for the life-changing experience, and the people that helped guide him during the journey. “There wasn’t a single person there who wasn’t one of the nicest people I’ve ever met in my life. It would have been impossible without the porters and guides helping us along the way. It was really cool meeting so many people and seeing how the other side of the world lives,” he said.
Masters students are constantly daring and striving to accomplish seemingly impossible challenges and goals they lay out for themselves. Navin says he encourages everyone to take on their challenges and goals, which may just become life-defining experiences.