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Peak Performance

Caroline Purtell

From the moment Amanda Trice saw it, she knew she had to reach the top of Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa’s tallest mountain. Although the 2001 graduate was never a trekker, climber or even much of a camper, she hoped her marathon-running experience would provide the mental and physical endurance she needed. So during a six-month volunteer stint in Tanzania, she set out with a friend, four porters and a cook to conquer the mountain.

By the end of the first day, however, she knew she was in for a challenge. The altitude change made sleeping impossible, and each successive day brought a new climate—steamy jungles quickly turned into arid landscapes of loose rock and dust. On the fifth day, Trice donned four pairs of pants, a hat, gloves, scarf and coat for the final ascent. They set off at midnight and took six hours to climb just one mile. Soon each step left her exhausted

. “My mindset was to keep moving no matter what,” Trice says. “It was getting colder and my hands and feet felt numb.”

Finally, at 6:35 a.m. Trice reached the peak, more than three and a half miles above sea level, where an icy wind whipped around and glaciers dotted the summit.

“I sat on a wooden bench and thanked God that we made it alive and that it would all be over soon,” she says. “In the end, all the pain, sleepless nights and filth were absolutely worth it. I had the opportunity to see and touch some of the most beautiful and interesting landscapes in the world. I faced a challenge that at many times seemed completely impossible, and I won. I beat that mountain. I reached the top.”

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