Martina battles blizzard, slogs up Kilimanjaro for charity

By Troy Hooper
Real AspenDecember 9, 2010
Snowy, cloudy skies are obscuring the breathtaking surroundings. The mood of the group teeters between exhaustion and exhilaration. Climbing the mighty Mount Kilimanjaro is even harder than they thought.
Navratilova takes a break at 14,765 feet.

“The going is getting tougher and tougher. It seems to be constantly steep and as we started to approach the highest point yet, 4,500 metres above sea level, sheer exhaustion sets in for much of the group, and with heavy legs and chests pounding due to a lack of oxygen, every step becomes an effort,” Aspen resident and nine-time Wimbledon champion Martina Navratilova wrote in her blog this morning.

The tennis star is climbing the tallest free-standing mountain in the world along with 27 others to raise money for disadvantaged children around the world. Today the climbers are crossing a barren alpine desert saddled 14,765 feet high between two of Kilimanjaro's three volcanic cones, Kibo and Mawenzi.

When she reaches the 19,341-foot summit, Navratilova, 54, plans to do what else but knock around some tennis balls. She brought her racket to see just how far balls fly off earth's fourth most prominent peak.

But first she and her companions must make it to the top.

Her dispatch yesterday cast some doubt on whether that would actually happen.

Navratilova fist bumps Michael Teuber.

“Well, no one prepared me for this,” Navratilova wrote. “As we headed for Mawenzi Tarn, we have had to fight our way through blizzards and cope with unexpected bitter cold. The snow is not settling on the ground, thank goodness, but still the conditions are very difficult and unpleasant. The guides tell me this is most unusual, but that is not much consolation. I brought my sun-block with me, but clearly that’s not going to be needed. We have sent a message down to our base camp to bring up thicker gloves, hand warmers and more heavy clothing. I was expecting it to be cold and snowy, but not so soon.”

They were supposed to embark on an acclimatization walk yesterday on Mawenzi but the snow and poor visibility made it “too dangerous,” Navratilova added.

The arduous climb is bringing the group closer together, she noted, and today the weather improved.

“It has been tougher than I imagined, but that is when everyone has come together to support each other,” wrote Navratilova, diagnosed with breast cancer earlier this year.

Others on the trek for charity — benefiting the London-based Laureus Sport for Good Foundation — include German Paralympic cyclist Michael Teuber and British Olympic badminton star Gail Emms.

“Paralympic cyclist Michael Teuber is amazing, he keeps walking past me at a great pace, and he doesn’t stop smiling,” Navratilova noted in her blog on the second day of their journey.

The group plans to reach the top of Tanzania's Mount Kilamanjaro this weekend.

To donate to the cause, click on this link

comments: 3 Comments on "Martina battles blizzard, slogs up Kilimanjaro for charity"

IRS2007 – Dec. 09, 2010, at 5:14 p.m.

We are filled with joy and good wishes for you and your crew Martina. We have no doubt that you will make it and enjoy your climb. You are so brave, but, that's nothing new. We have followed your footsteps since the day you entered the United States, through all the tennis and now this. You are a real trooper, and we are so proud of you. Isk and Tsk Youyousova

StacyChauchaski – Dec. 09, 2010, at 7:26 p.m.

You "Rock" Lady. When you retired from tennis, we didn't figure you were going to go home and "knit" (smile). Had no idea what your next project was going to be, but we were not surprised that you would take on "Kilimanjaro". What a thrill, what a thrill. The world will never forget you and will always be grateful for your contribution to the people who really need it..... Stay strong.......Stacy C

IRS2007 – Dec. 09, 2010, at 8:47 p.m.

Great Blog Martina. We have read just about everything people are saying about your effort in this "sweet climb", and that's exactly what it will be when you get to the top. Of course there are a few negative thoughts on the matter by some. But those are the people who don't know you and have no idea of what you are capable of. You hate to lose at anything. Thats why we will say...'SEE YOU AT THE TOP OF KILIMANJARO'. Go get'em girl and the best of luck to you and your crew. This is awesome!!!! (JoJo) a friend of IRS2007

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