Charlie King flying from Kilimanjaro

Paragliding from the summit of Kilimanjaro

Monday 8 January, 2018

It’s the ultimate hike-and-fly with a 5,000m top-to-bottom. Cross Country’s Charlie King flies from the summit of Kilimanjaro

“Kilimanjaro to Moshi: It could be the biggest top-to-bottom anywhere in the world. Even if you launched from the top of Everest, you’d land at base camp.” Six of us hugged plastic mugs of tea against the chill, a circle of faces tinted blue by the tent fabric that filtered the daylight, and thought about this.

The wind flapped at the canvas, and outside the swirling clouds parted every so often to reveal the steep volcanic scree through which the footpath zig-zagged towards the top of Africa’s highest mountain. That’s where we would be headed, in the dark, in a few hours’ time.

Tomorrow we hoped to paraglide from the top of Kilimanjaro’s 5,895m summit and land in Moshi at 800m, a 5,000m top-to-bottom. As Pierre said, surely one of the biggest you could do. But this is a mountain and mountain weather is notoriously fickle, and for now the proposed launch was windy and shrouded in thick clouds.

We were a team of seven, gathered in a tent at 4,700m Kibo camp, around a cloth-covered table enjoying a post-hike feast of hot tea and popcorn. We came from different parts of the world, and most of us had never met before but we instantly gelled, similar souls united by a love of mountains and wild places and the shared desire to fly paragliders from the ‘Roof of Africa’.

We were brought together by a company called Paraglide Kilimanjaro, with former Red Bull X-Alps competitor Pierre Carter our paragliding guide. Matias, Harri, Clive and I all had solo wings; Dawn was to fly down tandem with Pierre, and Giovanna was the sole member of the team whose A-Plan was to walk down, accompanied by our experienced mountain guides Dawson, Stevie and Robinson.

Read the rest of the article in Cross Country 186, Dec/Jan 2018

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