89-year-old Anne Lorimor of Paradise Valley, Arizona, has climbed Mount Kilimanjaro, the highest mountain in Africa, for the second time, to build an awareness of underserved children and youth falling through the cracks. She has become the oldest person to climb 19,341-foot Kilimanjaro, the tallest free-standing mountain in the world.
An avid hiker but not a professional mountain climber, Lorimor had set the record as the oldest woman to climb Kilimanjaro a few years ago. But another woman, 86-year-old Angela Vorobeva of Russia, broke her record.
On the morning of July 18, 2019, Lorimor re-claimed her title as the oldest woman and also became the oldest person to climb Kilimanjaro by successfully reaching Uhuru Peak, the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro. She broke the record of 88-year-old American Dr. Fred Distelhorst as the oldest person to climb the mountain.
The inspiration to climb Kilimanjaro came to Lorimor after reading a short story by Ernst Hemingway. “The mountain had been in my dreams ever since I read ‘The Snows of Kilimanjaro’ in high school,” she said. “In my bucket list I wrote, ‘Climb Kilimanjaro by 2015’.”
Lorimor received a huge welcome home at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport on Thursday afternoon after getting back from hiking Kilimanjaro in Tanzania. “There was a point when I really was concerned because I fell before I started up the mountain,” said Lorimor. “I had great pain in my side, and I couldn’t take deep breaths. I was afraid if I couldn’t keep oxygenated enough I couldn’t go.”
Kilimanjaro climb takes five to ten days to complete. It does not require mountaineering skills, but one has to be extremely fit to hike on steep terrain and face the challenges thrown by high altitude. Lorimor took nine days to complete the climb. Guide Elibahati Mamuya of Ultimate Kilimanjaro said, “Anne was a very strong climber. She maintained a pace that was as fast as someone in their 20’s. I was very impressed.”
While this is a monumental achievement in itself, Lorimor is not doing this for herself. “My chief passion throughout my life has been to help children and youth live full rewarding lives, and then pay it forward,” she said.
Since starting her donor-advised fund in 2004, under Arizona Community Foundation, to help at-risk children and youth, Lorimor has volunteered with or supported a number of organisations for at-risk children, either personally or through the fund. “But,” she says, “I want to help more children.” Getting money to do this was the purpose of her climb.
Lorimor founded Creating Exciting Futures in 2016 to empower and benefit at-risk youth. “I show kids their options and give them the tools to grow and lead productive lives and live a life they love, then, they can give back (to others in need),” said Lorimor.
Lorimor’s background explains her focus on homeless, foster and orphaned children. She was born at the beginning of the Great Depression, the oldest of 10 children. They were miserably poor, sometimes cold or hungry, and they wore hand-me-downs. For a short time they were homeless, living out of a homemade trailer and a truck. For a longer period, they lived in a tent on the bare ground without electricity, running water or telephone. But she remembers that people were often kind, and the family never lost hope.
Lorimor has led a full and very accomplished life. She became a registered nurse, followed by earning two bachelor’s degrees, two master’s degrees and a Ph.D