89 Year old Arizona Native Anne Lorimor just became the oldest person to Summit Mt. Kilimanjaro… again. Just four years ago, Lorimor summited the peak at the age of 85, making herself the oldest woman to reach the highest point in Africa. However, when she found out that an older woman had broken her record, and that a man had also completed the climb at an older age, she knew she had to go back.
Standing at 19,341 feet tall, Mt. Kilimanjaro is not only the highest peak in Africa, but it is the tallest freestanding peak in the world. First climbed in 1889, the hike begins at about 6,000 ft with an elevation gain of approximately 13,000 ft, a majority of which is at high altitude.
While Kilimanjaro is generally not a technically difficult climb, the altitude does present challenges. Lorimor found herself particularly worried due to an injury sustained before the climb, saying, “There was a point when I really was concerned because I fell before I started up the mountain. I had great pain in my side, and I couldn’t take deep breaths. I was afraid if I couldn’t keep oxygenated enough, I couldn’t go.”
Altitude sickness is always a major concern on mountains such as Kilimanjaro. Illnesses such as HAPE prevent oxygenation of the blood, exactly what Lorimor was worried about.
However, there was no turning back for Lorimor. She soldiered on and never looked back. In just 9 days Anne was back at base camp, now the oldest person to ever reach the summit.
One can only hope to be so active as Anne at the age of 89. Far lesser accomplishments would still be impressive at such an age. When asked for advice upon her return from the climb, Lorimor said, “Keep yourself as fit as possible in mind, body, and spirit, get deeply involved in a cause greater than yourself, and then don’t ever, ever quit!”.
Through all of my research, I have yet to find someone older than Lorimor who has reached one of the 7 summits. The next closest in age is Scott Lewis, a climber who reached the summit of Aconcagua at the age of 87. This means that Lorimor is quite possibly not only the oldest person to reach the summit of Kilimanjaro, but the oldest person to reach any of the 7 summits. That sure sounds like someone who never quits to me.