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Professor Don Tosh celebrates 61st birthday with Mount Kilimanjaro climb

February 2, 2012 | Chase Replogle

It was a very happy new year for Don Tosh, professor of mathematics at Evangel University, as he celebrated his 61st birthday by climbing Mount Kilimanjaro.

Though his birthday was in November, Tosh decided to climb the mountain at the end of December to avoid the rainy season and take advantage of his time off during Christmas break.

On December 29, 2011, Tosh — along with four other climbers, two guides and 15 porters — embarked upon the 60-mile journey. Tosh was the oldest of the group by more than 20 years.

Despite his age, or maybe because of it, he chose a more challenging route up the mountain called the “Machame Route.”

“I don’t like doing things the easy way,” he says. The trip took about 28 hours of climbing to ascend the mountain and nine hours to descend.

“The biggest challenge for me was the final ascent,” he says.

The group started the final ascent at midnight and arrived at the 19,300-foot summit at 6 a.m. on January 2.

“It was tougher than I expected because of the weather conditions,” Tosh says.

The group faced winds of 40 miles per hour and a temperature of zero degrees.

Tosh is no stranger to outdoor activity.

“The first mountain I climbed was Long’s Peak in 2001,” he says. “Last August, I climbed four mountains in three days in Colorado.”

He has climbed up and down the Grand Canyon three times since 2000. He also frequently sails, canoes and plays racquetball.

According to Tosh, climbing Mount Kilimanjaro was on his “bucket list.”

“This trip is the most difficult physical challenge I have ever accomplished,” he says. “Answering the question, ‘could I do it,’ was the best part of the climb.”

Does Tosh have plans for future expeditions?

“Climbing Kilimanjaro puts the lid on it,” Tosh says. “Everest is definitely out of the question!”

– Written by Cassie McDaniel

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