U-M’s Gary Was scales Kilimanjaro
Michigan Engineering Professor Gary Was has reached another accomplishment in life – the summit of Mt. Kilimanjaro.
Was completed the trek on July 2, and was accompanied by his sons Alex (a consultant with Clarion Medical and a 2009 U-M Mechanical Engineering alum) and Adam (an MIT and Harvard grad who is doing his residency at Stanford).
The trek began during a visit to Ethiopia in 2007, when the family visited Adam during his two-year employment with the Clinton Foundation in Africa. During a safari that started from Arusha, Tanzania, which is in the “shadow” of Mt. Kilimanjaro, they started to talk about hiking the mountain.
“We committed to do it about 16 months ago,” said Professor Was, “and started making plans and arrangements. We elected a seven-day hike along a route named Rongai since it went up the north side (drier side) and we were hiking at the transition between the rainy and dry season.”
The push to the summit began at 12:01 am (in the middle of the night) on the sixth day, allowing for 6.5 hours to reach the top, 4 hours to get back down and another 3 hours to the next campsite.
“The hike wasn’t bad, especially the first 4 days,” said Was. “We started at about 6000 ft in a rain forest and ended at the summit at 19,341 ft in what was probably 20°F temperatures and a pretty stiff wind.”
Tanzania national park service records show that 41% of hikers make it to the top. National Geographic website estimates the number of deaths per year trying to summit at 10. Unfortunately, one occurred in the party ahead of the Was family. “So it’s not a cakewalk,” said Was.
Would he do it again?
“To my knowledge, none of us has plans for a second such summit. But who knows…..”
Gary Was is a chaired professor in Engineering with appointments in Nuclear Engineering and Radiological Sciences, and in Materials Science and Engineering. He is also the Walter J. Weber, Jr. Professor of Sustainable Energy, Environmental and Earth Systems Engineering
Posted by Jennifer Judge Hensel, Michigan Engineering