HomeMoorestown NewsOlivia Sowa makes it to the top of Mt. Kilimanjaro, the world’s...

Olivia Sowa makes it to the top of Mt. Kilimanjaro, the world’s highest free standing mountain


The majority of kids spend the summer going into their senior year with friends at the beach. Olivia Sowa, who is entering her senior year at Moorestown Friends School, decided to spend hers hiking up Mt. Kilimanjaro, the world’s highest freestanding mountain.

“It was an amazing trip,” Sowa said. “Being able to look out from on top of one of the highest points on the planet was an experience I will never forget.”

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While she hasn’t done much hiking in her life, Sowa is used to the outdoors. She attends the Tripp Lake Camp every summer in New York, where she learned a lot of skills that were helpful during her ascent of Mt. Kilimanjaro.

“It definitely wasn’t roughing it at Tripp Lake, but we did a lot of activities in the woods,” she said. “It was definitely helpful to have a little bit of a background in camping.”

Mt. Kilimanjaro is the highest mountain in Africa at 19,341 feet, making it one of the “Seven Summits.” While it isn’t one of the most difficult hikes in the world, the sheer size of the mountain makes it daunting.

“A lot of people don’t consider the hike up Kilimanjaro that difficult,” Sowa said. “It doesn’t require a lot of technical climbing ability, but that doesn’t mean it’s not tough. Between the steepness and the thin air, it was certainly a tough trek to get to the top.”

Sowa went to Kilimanjaro as part of a tour, hosted by Rustic Pathways. It took four days to get to the summit and a day and a half to get back down.

The trek may have been much more difficult had Sowa not done some extensive training before leaving.

The lack of mountains in South Jersey made it difficult for her to find trails to hike, but Sowa found creative ways to fabricate the hiking experience.

“I filled my backpack with textbooks and walked as much as I could,” she said. “I wanted to get used to the weight of the pack, and it was a great way to break in the new boots I bought for the hike.”

Luckily for Sowa, she wasn’t starting from scratch. As a three-sport athlete at MFS, she is used to keeping in shape. With that said, Sowa took her training to a new level by hiking a half marathon to really get herself into peak shape before heading to Africa.

“I ran in the Disney Princess half marathon in February to make sure I was going to be ready for the hike,” she said. “After that, I just went back to my usual routine on the Stair Master.”

Now that the hike is over, Sowa is getting back to her normal life with friends and the beach. But, her trip up one of the world’s highest mountains is an experience that is hard to get over.

“Being on top of that mountain is something I will always keep with me,” she said. “Seeing the world from up there makes you think about things in a different way.”


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