10 Celebrities you didn't know who have climbed Kilimanjaro

by Kshaunish Jaini

  1. Singer Cheryl Cole - climbed Kilimanjaro in 2009

    Cheryl Cole, did the Kilimanjaro climb in 2009, along with 8 other celebrities ( including Radio One DJ Chris Moyles, Gary Barlow and Alesha Dixon amongst others). They climbed Kilimanjaro via the 8 day Lemosho Route and raised more than £1.4 million for charity via Comic Relief.
    Exhausted, tired and freezing because of the cold, Cheryl, and eight other members of the Comic Relief team, came down from the summit and saw four of their tents blown away by the wind.
    Cheryl was quoted as saying: “It has been without question the single most mentally and physically challenging experience of my life.”
    A Comic Relief source said that: “Conditions were too treacherous and they had to start their descent two hours later. It took enormous courage and stamina to start walking again so soon after a nine-hour climb. They showed real guts.”
    Here’s Cheryl talking about it on the Graham Norton Show:



  2. Actress Jessica Biel summited Kilimanjaro in 2010

    Jessica summited Kilimanjaro along with Grammy-nominated musician Kenna , Into the Wild star Emile Hirsch, and environmentalist Kick Kennedy { granddaughter of Robert F. Kennedy }. The Kilimanjaro trek was conceived by Kenna to raise awareness about the global clean-water crisis. The group faced some tough weather and trudged through sleet,snow, rain and freezing temperatures. Despite the conditions, the entire team made it to the summit, including the documentary team and the 248 porters via a variation of the 7 day Shira route .

    The documentary was filmed as a 90 minute special for MTV and to raise funds and awareness for The Children’s Safe Drinking Water Program .  While Jessica made it to the summit, she has said that it was one of the hardest things she has ever done and would never attempt it again.

    The temperature was zero degrees and so many people were struggling,” she said. UN Foundation executive Elizabeth Gore, who also made the hike was quoted as saying “People had hurt limbs, people had altitude sickness.” After eight tough days of hiking, the group finally reached the town of Arusha, Tanzania at the base of the mountain and, like most climbers to Kili, celebrated the successful attempt with a hot meal at and a few bottles of the local Tanzanian beer.

    Here is a link to the documentary and to Jessica Beil's thoughts on Kili
    Here she is talking about her Kilimanjaro experience:

  3. Tennis Great - Martina Navratilova - 2010

    9 times Wimbledon champion, and one of the greatest female tennis players, Martina Navratilova attempted the Kilimanjaro climb in 2010 at the age of 54 ( Just a few months after being diagnosed and treated for breast cancer. She unfortunately failed to summit and had to call in a rescue just 4,000 feet short of the summit, due to a combination of mountain sickness and a stomach infection. The rescue took all night and the tennis legend was given emergency oxygen before being carried in total darkness down the mountain by porters on a makeshift stretcher.
    Here she talks about her Kilimanjaro attempt. The narration begins in German, but the subtitle/cc is a close translation. The video later switches to english.


  4. Footballer Robbie Savage - attempted Kili in 2013

    Robbie Savage, a footballer from Wales, attempted the Kilimanjaro trek in 2013. Sadly, he didn't make it after falling to altitude sickness ( similar to Martina ). Climbing via the 7 day Rongai route , the footballer fell ill on the second day of the trek, at 9,000 feet, and had to be rushed to the hospital. BBC reported Robbie saying that it was "an awful and scary situation" and added that he thought "my head was going to explode, dangerously low oxygen in blood". 

    Savage has played for Leicester City, Birmingham and Derby County during his football career.
  5. Television Host Ann Curry - 2008

    The Today Show anchor Ann Curry was attempting to climb Kilimanjaro in 2008 to document the dramatic retreat of Mount Kilimanjaro’s glaciers for their globe-spanning Ends of the Earth special report. Curry and her team had chosen the most dangerous route to the summit - the Western Breach route . She was also reportedly climbing in new gear that was not worn in and was turned around at 16,000 feet due to altitude sickness

    For the report, Curry had compared photographs of Kili's glaciers taken 22 years ago to the photos taken by her team. The pictures showed that the ice cap on the verge of extinction and verified what scientists and researchers have been saying; that less than 20 percent of Kilimanjaro’s famous ice cap remains as over 80 percent of it has disappeared in the last 100 years.
  6. Chelsea FC owner Roman Abramovich

    The owner of Chelsea Football Club and renowned billionaire, Roman Abramovich, had to give up his summit bid after collapsing at 15,100 feet on his attempt to scale the roof of Africa. The 43-year-old Abramovich started experiencing severe breathing problems. He collapsed on his Kilimanjaro attempt in 2009 and was taken straight back down to the hospital. Like Ann Curry, Abramovich's group of 6 tried to reach the summit by attempting the toughest route on the mountain - the Western breach and took with them a 113 porters!

    After his failed attempt to climb Kilimanjaro, he was so grateful to the team of African porters who helped him down the mountain, that he offered to fly ten of them to London to see a Chelsea match at Stamford Bridge. The British High Commission in Tanzania, however, reportedly refused to grant the porters with visas. Fed up with the red tape, Roman Abramovich flew the men to see a game to Moscow instead.
  7. Comedian Rhod Gilbert - 2013

    Rod Gilbert on Uhuru peak with two other climbers

    Rod Gilbert on his charity trek to Kilimanjaro

    "Apparently I cried for a solid hour through a mixture of exhaustion and euphoria...I was a broken man".
    Gilbert considered the attempt a "monster challenge, especially given that I'm about as fit as a panda." Before attempting his trek, the funny man said that "However bad it gets up that mountain - however dehydrated or stricken by altitude sickness I get - nothing can compare to the backstage facilities at Rhyl Pavilion". Gilbert was climbing to raise funds and awareness for Velindre Cancer Care and reportedly raised over £250,000 from the event.

  8. Actor Brian Blessed - 1988

    Actor Brian Blessed is well known for having famously climbed Kilimanjaro in 1988. It is however, his other adventurous exploits that have garnered him fame and attention. People with an affinity for mountains are known as mountain men, but Brian Blessed, being in a class of his own, has been called the man-mountain. The actor has attempted Mount Everest 3 times, coming within a 1,000 feet of the summit in 1993! He has also climbed Aconcagua and is the oldest man ever to reach the North Magnetic Pole on foot! He has also survived a plane crash into the Amazon  A true adventurer! This Reddit thread discusses his wild attempts at famous mountains.

    He said 'The last thing Cathie and I did together was to go up Mount Kilimanjaro nearly 27 years ago'. He had climbed the mountain in 1988 and recounts about the trip with his daughter:

    'It was a great success: she did very well and got to the summit, although she became quite ill with the altitude and lack of oxygen, so I had to give her lots of aspirin and water. We got on marvellously nevertheless.'



  9. US President Obama

    Obama posing outside with adventurer Bear Grylls

    Obama with Bear Grylls>

    Just Kidding. Though Obama hasn’t climbed Kili yet, the beloved US President said in 2015 that Climbing Kilimanjaro along with a safari in Maasai Mara and a beach holiday in Lamu were all on his bucket list for after his presidency.

    “I know that there are places in this beautiful nation that I haven’t discovered, so I am gonna make sure when I get back, and it is not just Kenya, it is an ecosystem connected from Uganda to Tanzania,” he told Kenya’s CapitalFM in an interview marking the end of his Kenya visit.

    “Climbing Kilimanjaro seems like something that should be on my list of things to do once I get out of here. The Secret Service generally doesn’t like me climbing mountains, but as a private citizen hopefully I can get away with something like that.”

    The 5,895-metre (19,341-foot) peak, just over the border in Tanzania, is Africa’s highest mountain. He said he loved the Masai Mara and Serengeti national parks in Kenya and Tanzania, and had fond memories of a trip to Lamu island, on Kenya’s Indian Ocean coast, that he made with his wife Michelle when they were engaged.

    “Lamu is high on my list. Michelle and I went there when we were engaged, I remember taking those dhows out, fishing, and the captain of the boat cooking the fish right on the beach. It was remarkable,” he told CapitalFM

  10. Singer and actor Noel Sullivan - 2015

    Noel Sullivan posing solo on Kilimanjaro summit with clouds and snow seen behind

    Noel Sullivan on Kilimanjaro

    Noel Sullivan, a Welsh actor and singer, climbed Kilimanjaro in 2015. "...in memory of my brother and sister who both died as infants" He wrote a series of blogs about his Kilimanjaro experience for the Huffington Post, which you can find here , here and here .

  11. Bonus Point. Many people also assume that Lionel Messi has climbed Kilimanjaro because of a very popular Turkish Airlines commercial ( seen below ). But this is not actually true.

  12. This is the current list folks. Let us know if you know of any other celebs who've climbed the Roof of Africa and we'll add them to the list. And share this with your friends, they may just be inspired by their favourite celeb!

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