Reservist's Kilimanjaro climb a mountain of a cause

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Jack Sanders
  • 3rd Wing Public Affairs
Most people dream of traveling the world, or conquering large obstacles.

Maj. Lisa Reaver, a Reservist with the 477th Fighter Group at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, was able to do both in a trip that took her halfway around the world to climb Tanzania's highest peak, Mount Kilimanjaro.

"A teammate of mine from rugby did the climb a couple of years ago and said it was a life-changing experience," Major Reaver said.

The fascination of climbing mountains has been around for generations. The thought of reaching new heights has brought people from all around the world to some famous peaks.

Mount Kilimanjaro is the fourth highest of the Seven Summits, the tallest peak on each of the seven continents.

It is the tallest freestanding mountain in the world, with Uhuru Peak rising to an altitude of 19,341 feet above sea level, according to the CIA World Factbook.

Major Reaver left Alaska Sept. 17 with a group from the Global Alliance for Africa, a non-profit organization that benefits children orphaned by HIV and AIDS.

Major Reaver said, her trip mates and she got a chance to experience African culture in a new light.

"We got to hang out with our porters and guides on the Kilimanjaro climb. Most of them were Chaga people from the area around Mount Kilimanjaro," she said. "They spoke Swahili and we learned a bit from them. East Africa was heavily influenced by Christian missionaries and the British, so we have much more in common than I would have thought.

"Much like the people of Tanzania, the mountain should not be underestimated or overlooked," Major Reaver said. "The local guides and porters on our trip did not have the high tech gear we are accustomed to, nor were they overly muscular looking, but they did the whole climb with 30 to 40 pounds of gear, on their heads.

Only four of Reaver's six-person group were able to make it to Uhuru peak, the highest point on Mount Kilimanjaro.

"Mount Kilimanjaro does not look capable of such intensity, but just like the people that guided us up it, you can't judge a book by its cover," she said. "Those men are capable of carrying not just their pack, but yours too, on their head, just as Mount Kilimanjaro is capable of keeping people off its peak. It is harder than it looks."

Major Reaver said if she had to take one lesson away from her trip it would be, "You don't know what you are capable of until you're put to the test."

"This trip was a challenge on a couple of fronts, mainly fund raising as well as the climb," the major said. "I'm not an expert in either area and was pushed out of my comfort zone to accomplish both.

"I learned that I can rely on my friends and family, myself and my faith," Major Reaver explained. "Trusting in that, I can succeed at just about anything."