Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro is a feat worthy of any dream trip list (in fact, one of our editors shared it as her own bucket list vacation). Earlier this month, Chaeli Mycroft did just this. What's even more impressive is the fact that she's the world's first female quadriplegic to make the climb all the way to the top of the mountain—which, notably, is the planet's highest free-standing mountain.
All in all, a team of 11 (including three mountain guides) took off in search of the summit. The crew chose to ascend the Rongai Route—a course that's known to be gentler than others and sees the most dry weather. Each teammate had a special set of responsibilities; a few specifically educated in helping Mycroft along the way. In addition to team helpers, Mycroft also used a special wheelchair for the mountain terrain and an amazing temperature-regulating onesie for safety.
This trip was much more than personal accomplishment. Mycroft is also an ability activist working to change social perception of people with disabilities. The idea came together when Adam Schäfer—a traveler with the bucket list item to climb Kilimanjaro for a cause—reached out to Mycroft via her Chaeli Campaign. The duo decided to raise money for the Chaeli Campaign's Inclusive Education Program and the Chaeli Cottage Inclusive Preschool and Enrichment Center. Four years separate the day the idea was put into place to the actual summit. (For an extremely in-depth timeline, head over to the Discover Africa website.)
The climb also marked another important occasion: Mycroft's 21st birthday. The crew celebrated with a quick rest—and a pink birthday sash, of course—during a day of climbing. Check out the videos below for behind-the-scenes peek at the journey to Kilimanjaro's summit:
Erika Owen is the Audience Engagement Editor at Travel + Leisure. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram at @erikaraeowen.