As the highest free-standing mountain on earth, Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania presents a tough challenge for any climber. The ranks of those who have failed in their attempts to reach the summit include experienced mountaineers, professional athletes and ultra-fit marathoners. This makes Kyle Maynard’s accomplishment all the more amazing and inspiring.
Maynard, 30, was born with no lower legs and arms, but he successfully summited Kilimanjaro’s 19,341 feet in 2012. “When I saw it for the first time, I realized this is a monstrous mountain and thought it was the worst idea I ever had,” he said.
But he didn’t turn back. Over 12 days, Maynard literally crawled to the top of the mountain popularly known as “the roof of Africa,” one slow grasp at a time using custom, protective fittings for his appendages.
He ultimately traversed all 25 miles of the trail leading to the top, passing through five climate zones along the way. “Just imagine walking on your elbows and knees for that length,” said Maynard, who has also reached another one of the highest peaks in the world: Aconcagua in Argentina.
Maynard’s story is a great example of how tasks that seem overwhelming can be accomplished if we break them into more manageable steps. We may not all try to climb almost 20,000 feet into literally thin air, but we all have life goals that can be reached with the same approach—whether it’s getting fit, learning something new or saving for a home or retirement.