Sponsored by Polarmax and Native Eyewear, North Carolina native Macon Dunnagan summited Tanzania’s Mount Kilimanjaro today, setting a record of four summits in 28 days, bringing his personal total to 25 successful ascents of Africa’s highest peak.
In 1998, Macon – now 51, made his first ascent of the towering 19,341 foot stratovolcano with the encouragement of his wife Michelle. Diagnosed with ovarian cancer, Michelle passed away in 2007 and since then Macon has dedicated his climbs for charity. Nine of his climbs have raised funds for ovarian cancer projects in the US and Canada, and as a Rotary Club member, Macon has lead climbs for the organization’s End Polio Now project. This past month, 28 climbers from the Charlotte, North Carolina Rotary Club made the climb, raising almost $100,000 for their cause.
While many climbers would be quite satisfied with 25 successful ascents of one peak, Macon Dunnagan says he has climbs scheduled until 2017. To understand his particular love for Kilimanjaro, his 2001 book, Sons of Kilimanjaro may explain the appeal. His second book is completed and awaiting a publisher and he has begun work on his third.
When asked what compells him to climb the same mountain again and again, Dunnagan replies: “I enjoy taking other people up Kilimanjaro and giving them an appreciation for the mountain, what it is, the environment and the people of Tanzania.”
Mount Kilimanjaro began forming approximately one million years ago. Of its three peaks, Mawenzi and Shira are extinct, but the highest peak – Kibo – is dormant and could erupt in the future. The most recent major eruption occurred 360,000 years ago, but activity was recorded only 200 years ago. To understand why Kilimanjaro is so special, one must note that it is not only Africa’s highest peak, but also the tallest free-standing mountain anywhere on Earth. Its slopes rise in total isolation from the surrounding flat scrubland that surrounds the peak in all directions, making it a truly impressive sight and a wonder to behold from the ground – and a joy to experience from the summit.
Macon Dunnagan is the Mt. Kilimanjaro Expedition Director for Zara Tours of Tanzania in the US and Canada. His groups are all hosted and based out of Zara’s Springlands Hotel near Moshi, Tanzania.