Tips & Advice

From Dr. Liz Herself

June 4, 2019
Why I Ignored My Mother’s Advice and Did It Anyway
Mount Kilimanjaro
Dr. Liz and Dr.Norah Gutrecht

With my mom at my medical school graduation, 1990

It’s true. My mother was terrified when I told her I was going to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro.

She pictured ice picks, ropes, oxygen masks, and dangerous ravines. I calmed her fears by sending her a picture from my Kili guide book showing (the truth) that most of it consists of beautiful hikes.  All I needed were good hiking boots, warm clothes, and sturdy poles.

My mom has always thought I was a little crazy. I often gave her good reason to think so.

Who celebrates turning 50 by climbing up a mountain?

It made perfect sense to me. I thought it was the perfect way to demonstrate (mostly to myself) that getting older does NOT mean declining or shrinking away from living life out loud.

Can’t believe it was four years ago!

When it comes to parenting, they say “the days are long and the years are short.”

This also seems to be true with accomplishments. It’s already been four years since I summited Mt. Kilimanjaro!

It took me until this year to get the little plaque made for this photo taken with my iPhone 6

How did I get this crazy idea?

I got the idea when I was in my 30’s and met a woman who had done the climb. She and her husband were both physical education teachers in England, so both very physically fit. She made it to the top, and he did not. This immediately piqued my interest.

I learned that while most people who climb Kili do make it to the top, of those who don’t, very lean and fit men are over-represented. It seems that body fat provides needed insulation, and the fattier muscle in women’s bodies provides an advantage.

I was encouraged.

Fast-forward (as life does) to my late 40’s, when I realized I had better at least find out if I enjoy hiking! At this point, I was living in the Bay area, which is heaven for hikers. I started going on local hikes with friends and indeed found that I love hiking.

Dr. Liz HikingThen my 50th birthday was approaching. It was time to commit.

I signed up for the trip with Climb Kili. A company with offices in Utah, the U.K., and Tanzania, which turned out to be very helpful as I traveled across the globe to get to Africa. (I’m happy to say they are still in business, and that I stay in touch with my guide, Raymond!)

After signing up with the guide company, next was booking the flight.

From Mount Kili to Amsterdam

When people climb Kilimanjaro, they usually incorporate some type of fun or relaxation after the climb is done. For example, one of the other people in my group went on safari immediately after our climb was complete.

I wanted to take advantage of the fact that I was traveling to Africa via Europe, by visiting a city in Europe.

Since my flight was connecting through Amsterdam, I decided to stay there for a few days on my way back from Africa. This turned out to be a fantastic decision. I spent a very enjoyable four days on my own in Amsterdam after my Kilimanjaro accomplishment.

There’s a small but dedicated Argentine tango scene in Amsterdam! This was in addition to my ticket to the Anne Frank house, many other sights to see, and one of the best flea markets I’ve been to in the world.

Back to Home Sweet Home

I returned home rested and exhilarated.

This photo is my home screen on my phone:

Dr Liz at Mount Kilimanjaro


Two “secrets” got me to the top of Mt. Kilimanjaro – an awesome support team and a slow but steady pace.

While other people – even my mom – might sometimes think I’m crazy, looking at this picture every time I pick up my phone, it reminds me in times of self-doubt that I, in fact, CAN do whatever I put my mind to.

With the right support and a steady pace, so can you.

What is the physical achievement you are most proud of?

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