Fort Wayne native Mike Marker has climbed one mountain. Now he hopes, with the help of people's generosity, to climb another.
Earlier this month, Marker was part of a group that climbed to the top of Mount Kilimanjaro, the highest peak in Africa. His goal was to raise a dollar for each foot of the mountain's 19,340-foot-high peak, which would allow his Climb for Kids project to send 100 children to United Methodist Church summer camps this year.
“We have raised over $8,000 so far, and our goal is to reach $19,340,” Marker, who now lives in Indianapolis, said in an email interview. “We appreciate the generosity of donors, and we hope that others join us now that we've reached the summit.
“We'll be doing some talks and direct-mail pieces to help us raise the additional funds,” he said.
Marker said the climb overall was “awesome.”
“Mt Kilimanjaro is a special place, and I'm glad that our climb team had the opportunity to be there,” he said. “We had good weather, and the African guides and porters made the trip very memorable.”
They started their trek up the mountain at about 6,500 feet on the Machame Route, he said. They first walked through lush rain forest, where it rained and the temperature was in the 80s. As they began climbing higher, the terrain became more challenging.
“One of those challenges was scaling the Barranco Wall,” a very steep, rocky portion of the trail.
“Beyond the physical challenges of summit day, the Barranco Wall was the second most-challenging piece in that we had some tight areas to traverse,” Marker said. “One section was called 'Kiss The Wall' because you had to hug (and kiss if you wanted) the rock to make it across to the next section. We had great views all around as we climbed this wall.
“The terrain up to the summit was very rocky, very steep and incredibly challenging,” he said. “We started the summit climb at midnight, and wind gusts reached 45 mph and pushed the temp down to 15 degrees below zero.”
He started feeling the effects of the high altitude around 15,000 feet, so he took Diamox, a medicine used to prevent altitude sickness.
“Reaching the top felt great,” Marker said. “The summit climb was the most challenging thing that I've ever done physically or mentally. So, it felt really good to be standing on top of that mountain.
“That said, the lack of oxygen above 19,000 feet made the summit area uncomfortable,” he said. “So, we exchanged high fives, snapped a few photos and started back down pretty quickly.”
Marker is not sure what challenge he'll try next.
“I don't have any other big adventures planned just yet,” he said. “But I'm looking forward to hiking more with my wife and kids.
“We want to visit a few national parks, and a Grand Canyon hike might be on the radar sometime soon, too.”