A 31-year-old man from Toronto, Canada, managed to summit Mount Kilimanjaro on Monday, June 18, relying only on his arms to propel him forward.
Spencer West lost both of his legs at age 5 due to a congenital disorder, but that didn’t prevent him from climbing Africa’s tallest mountain at an impressive pace. In just seven days, West made it from his base camp at 6,552 feet to the summit of Kilimanjaro, which stands 19,340 feet above sea level.
On some occasions, where the terrain would not permit West to climb on his hands, he used a custom wheelchair with mountain-bike style treads on the tires. However, for the majority of his journey, he moved along on his hands, with only a pair of gloves protecting him from the harsh terrain.
The final days before arriving at the summit were difficult, as West encountered below freezing temperatures, altitude sickness, and a barren landscape. When reflecting on the accomplishment of reaching the summit, he wrote on his blog, “After seven grueling days of relentless climbing, after 20,000 feet of our blood, sweat and tears (and, let’s face it, vomit) we had actually made it. We were at the top. The summit sign seemed almost like a mirage.”
West, an author and motivational speaker, documented the entire journey on his blog entitled, Redefine Possible. During the seven days from base camp to the summit, West posted a short recap of each day hiking with his friends David Johnson and Alex Meers.
The trek, which West described as “grueling” and “frigid,” is part of his larger mission to inspire others to redefine what’s possible in their lives. The achievement has left a measurable impact on many, as West reported raising more than $500,000 in donations supporting his adventure, the proceeds of which will be given to Free the Children, an organization that seeks to help empower and educate kids globally.