Friday, January 18, 2008

Lebanese family climbs to peak of Mt. Kilimanjaro

Lebanese family climbs to peak of Mt. Kilimanjaro
By Ayman Oghanna
Special to The Daily Star

BEIRUT: This New Year's Eve a Lebanese family celebrated the advent of 2008 in a rather unusual place, on the summit of Mt. Kilimanjaro. Hanna Hibri, 50, and her three sons climbed Africa's highest mountain, in what she described as a gruelling yet exhilarating experience. Hanna's youngest son Hadi, at just 13 years of age, is probably the youngest Lebanese to have ever successfully completed the ascent. The Hibri family represent a small number of Lebanese adventure enthusiasts, who have been growing in number ever since Maxim Chaaya became the first Lebanese to successfully scale Mt. Everest in 2006. Kilimanjaro's stunning views and well-developed tourist industry make it a popular stepping-stone for budding mountaineers wanting to follow in Chaaya's footsteps. At a gigantic 5,895 meters, Kilimanjaro is the tallest free-standing mountain in the world and includes Africa's highest peak. Despite being dubbed as the 'Everyman's Everest,' reaching the peak is not necessarily an easy climb. Extreme altitudes, a severe lack of oxygen, rockslides and unpredictable weather conditions means that reaching the peak remains a difficult and serious challenge. The number of people who fail to make the ascent each year is estimated as being between 50 and 80 percent.

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