Mountain high

May 1, 2006

Satish Modi, MD, FRCS, reached a new peak this year. Theself-described "quintessential couch potato" traveled to Africa toclimb Mount Kilimanjaro. On Feb. 1, he stood at the summit, Uhuru(meaning "freedom") Peak.

Satish Modi, MD, FRCS, reached a new peak this year. The self-described "quintessential couch potato" traveled to Africa to climb Mount Kilimanjaro. On Feb. 1, he stood at the summit, Uhuru (meaning "freedom") Peak.

Sizing up the challenge

Dr. Modi flew from New York to Africa at the end of January. He describes the climb he signed up for as "upscale and non-technical"-meaning there were no crampons, and no need for ice picks or ropes. The camp was at 6,500 feet.

"It was basically strenuous hiking," he explained.

"When we were driving from the airport to camp, there was a giraffe crossing the road," Dr. Modi said. "I thought, 'Wow! This is really Africa.' "

"I didn't tell them how ill-prepared I was," he said. "I was the weakest link!"

The group was led by three native Chagga guides and about 70 porters who provided water and carried tents and supplies. The climbers each carried a 30-pound backpack with their own gear and water. They were advised to drink 4 liters of water a day to stay hydrated. They ate a minimum of 4,000 calories.

"We ate well, but I still lost 7 pounds," Dr. Modi said.

The trek took 7 days, and they walked 50 to 60 miles. The hardest part?

While approximately 10 people a year perish trying to climb Mount Kilimanjaro, Dr. Modi characterized the climb as "arduous walking."