Kilimanjaro’s celebrity status has, in turn, drawn a number of celebrities over the years, from professional sportsmen and sportswomen to singers and actresses.
Encouragingly for the less fit out there, portly DJ Chris Moyles, who fronted popular UK radio station Radio 1’s breakfast show for many years, made it to Uhuru Peak in 2009 with a team that also included singer and X-Factor presenter Cheryl Cole, former Take That frontman Gary Barlow and former Boyzone frontman Ronan Keating. This celebrity climb was to raise funds for Comic Relief.
In 2010, Hollywood star Jessica Biel also made it to the top, confessing subsequently that it was the hardest thing she’d ever done. Her climb was to help raise awareness about clean water issues and raise funds for The Children’s Safe Drinking Water Program. She was part of a team that also included musicians such as Lupe Fiasco, Santogold and Kenna.
A number of other celebrities have tried to tame Kili but failed to reach the summit, interestingly many professional sportsmen and sportswomen among them.
Former tennis queen Martina Navratilova’s climb was cut short by high altitude pulmonary edema (HAPE), a potentially fatal form of altitude sickness, and she had to be rushed to hospital. She had been climbing via the Rongai Route.
Former premier league soccer player and renowned bad boy Robbie Savage also suffered from HAPE when he attempted to climb in 2013. He was hospitalized on Day 3 after setting out on the Rongai Route, and having started to feel sick on day 2.
Former NFL line backer and Superbowl champion Ray Lewis had to pull out of a charity climb in 2013 due to an injured foot and fever.
Any fans of his rival clubs will be pleased to know that Chelsea Football Club’s mega-rich Russian owner Roman Abramovich also failed to summit Kili. He had to abandon his attempt after suffering breathing problems.
So it’s clear then that money, celebrity status or even sporting fitness and prowess mean nothing when it comes to tackling the highest mountain in Africa.