At the age of 54, Prior’s Field’s head Tracy Kirnig who is more of a daily dog walker than a mountaineer, is the first person to ever climb Kilimanjaro in her family as well as completing the Duke Of Edinburgh Diamond challenge (which is another accomplishment in itself). Her infectious can do attitude towards life alludes her ability to take on any adventure and overcome challenges.
“Did you ever had any fears or doubts about climbing Kilimanjaro? I asked. She chuckled. “It’s funny because I always encourage the girls that you measure success by doing what you set out to do and not by merely failing to do so and here I was worrying about failing. I had doubts but what kept me going was the thought that if I failed to get to the top then Prior’s field head had failed. I wanted to show the girls at the school that if you put your mind to anything no matter how difficult it looked, you could accomplish it.” She beamed with delight.
Climbing any mountain sounds challenging and climbing the Kilimanjaro – the highest peak mountain in Africa which is about 5,859 metres is a monumental accomplishment. A life goal you dedicate your time, physical health and mental state of being before embarking on. On photo, Prior’s field head Tracy Kirnig made the climb to the world’s tallest free-standing mountain look like an effortless trek, radiating joy all the way to the top. However it was not as easy at it looked she tells me.
I sat with Tracy in her serene office which was decorated in emerald green and a soothing cream colour just like the school’s theme. She was in a summery maxi gown and had her blonde hair down. One could never had guessed that she had just got back from a trip to Tanzania, climbing Africa’s tallest mountain and experiencing wildlife in a Safari park at their purest form, amongst other things.
“So tell me all about your journey to Kili”, I blurted out, climbing straight into it.
“Well the idea started with Mountain Meru, my husband I had climbed it in *insert date here* and a friend suggested that we should climb Kilimanjaro next and I thought, well why not?”. She paused, smiled then continued in an euphoric voice. “The trip to Tanzania was absolutely amazing and climbing Kilimanjaro was truly incredible, it was a lifelong dream that I never really planned on doing, it just sort of happened. We were separated from the rest of the world and with nothing to distract us, making it to the top was even more spectacular. It took us five days to work our way to the top, this was in order to prevent mountain sickness so our bodies could get used to the oxygen levels, the capricious weather conditions and balancing on the rocks”. She demonstrated with her hands on which there was no sign of soreness on. As if she had read my mind, she continued. “My toes are still quite sore from the climb but it was worth it. We heard about this group of people who were half way through but turned around. I just could not understand, why would you go through so much physical and mental challenges only to give up when you were so close to the top?
Prior the trip; my husband, my best friend and I all had a conversation about what should happen if anyone decided that they could no longer go up. We all agreed that we would carry on but lucky enough none of us got mountain sick so we all got to the top. There was only three of us climbing for the first time but it took about seven workers to get to there. Ten porters who were paid to cook and help carry some of our belongings and two guards (professional climbers). I admired their enthusiasm and strength, they do the climbing about three to five times a year but were still so amazed when we got to the top, it seemed as if it was their first time. The most peculiar thing about Kilimanjaro was how peaceful it was, knowing that at that point in time you were at the highest peak in Africa was such a surreal feeling.