Doctor's Review: Medicine on the Move

August 22, 2017
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I prescribe a trip to Mount Kilimanjaro

Dr Pierre LeBlanc enjoys Christmas dinner with his family on the highest peak in Africa

Where was your night to remember? In Kilimanjaro National Park in northeastern Tanzania.

When was this? December 25, 2006.

Who were you with? I was with my wife Sonia, our four daughters, Evelyne, Sarah, Mélisande and Geneviève, and three guides.

What made this night memorable? I spent an unforgettable Christmas night summitting Mount Kilimanjaro. It was the realization of a family dream, an adventure that we had planned for many years. What an incredible night I had with the most admirable people in my life!

The evening was rainy, humid and chilly. At 7pm, we had a nap and at 11pm we woke for our seven-hour walk. It was -5ºC, the sky was clear and the moon was shining. We walked very close together and stopped every 30 minutes to check on each other and to warm-up.

At 5am, we saw the sun come up over the horizon and an hour later, at Stella Point, we stopped to truly admire its beauty and strength. After just one more hour of walking, we had met our goal. At that moment, I was definitely the happiest man on earth! I had reached the summit of Kilimanjaro with my wife and daughters.

We spent the night in 1000-star accommodation — camping allows you to benefit from much more than just five stars!

Where did you dine and what did you eat? We dined in the kitchen tent at 5000 metres. At 4pm, we had our usual popcorn. After a magnificent sunset, we had a copious dinner in a frenzied atmosphere, as we anticipated reaching the summit.

We started with a warm soup; it was delicious in the -5ºC chill. Then we had chicken and fresh French fries. It’s amazing to eat French fries at 5000 metres up! We finished our meal with fresh tropical fruit.

We drank a lot of water and tea. Though there was no wine, we talked a lot about it. After a three-hour nap, we had tea and cookies before the final climb.

How much did it cost? It was part of a package that cost $1500 per person for a seven-day trek.

Would you do it again? When you live such a magical experience, you shouldn’t try to repeat it. It is a perfect moment that remains engraved in your memory forever. But I would try a similar climbing excursion elsewhere.

 

Dr Pierre LeBlanc is a respirologist from Quebec City, QC.

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