Senior conquers Mount Kilimanjaro in five-part hike

Philpott overcame the many challenges of his trek and made it to the peak of Mt. Kilimanjaro.

Stephen Kim, Assistant Design Editor

Senior Henry Philpott is no stranger to physical challenges. He has climbed Mount Crested Butte on skis, lived in a Lao village with nothing but 50 dollars and a change of clothes, and run two half marathons, plus a half Ironman Triathlon.

But this was all a prologue before Philpott fulfilled his longtime childhood dream of climbing Mount Kilimanjaro.

The journey to the peak of Kilimanjaro consisted of a five-part terrain trek which led Philpott through farmlands, the rainforest, moorlands, the high alpine desert and the Arctic tundra.

“I realized there was a lot more to the journey than just the peak,” Philpott said. “Once you realize how amazing it is to see five drastically different ecological zones in the span of two or three days, you begin to appreciate what the world has to offer.”

Along the way, Philpott also encountered challenges that he could not have prepared for in Houston. Altitude proved to be one of the most difficult aspects of the trip. At an altitude of 12,600 feet, a climber can only breathe one third of the oxygen found at ground level.

Limited access to hygiene management was a challenge, leading Philpott to risk hypothermia just to take a shower in 35-degree weather. Philpott and his group could not shower for three days, yet finally, in a desperate scramble for cleanliness, they stripped and sprinted through the showers.

“Freezing doesn’t even begin to describe how cold we were,” Philpott said. “The water was painful, and our guide forced us into our sleeping bags for two hours because there was no other way to warm down at that altitude.”

Philpott persevered through the harsh elements and sleep deprivation, strengthened by the beauty of nature around him.

“We were only at the summit for three to five minutes, but looking out over almost all of Africa — there’s nothing like it,” Philpott said. “This journey was a true testament to how strong the human will is.”