PORTLAND – Summiting Mount Kilimanjaro in Africa is a feat that has been the goal of many a hiker. But summiting the three highest peaks in Africa — Mount Meru, Mount Kenya and Mount Kilimanjaro — is a major challenge.

Completing this challenge in three weeks is what Kaitlyn Oddy of Portland, a sophomore at the University of Southern Maine, plans to do.

An active, outdoorsy person by nature, Oddy read about “3 Peaks 3 Weeks” in a magazine while she was working out in the gym.

“Their mission is to go and help people in Africa,” Oddy said. “At the same time, we get to go take a trip and see what we’re doing — go and hike mountains while we’re there.”

The 3 Peaks 3 Weeks challenge is an all-female climbing event, founded by Chloe Chick in 2004 after she worked and traveled in sub-Saharan Africa for a year. The challenge’s goal is to raise money for and awareness of the environment, education and health of Africans.

“I can’t say I’m an avid hiker, but I love fitness and outdoors. And I always wanted to go to Africa not just go see Africa, but do something to make a difference there,” Oddy said.

While hiking the three peaks is the main focus of the trip, the group will also stop in villages and see where the money they raised is helping.

So she applied for the challenge, was accepted and will join a group of 12 women in January.

Since learning she would take part in the challenge, Oddy has raised $600. It is a good start to the $6,000 she is expected to raise, but she has confidence in reaching that goal.

“I’d rather have 1,000 people give $1 or $2 each than to go to a few people who give $500. That defeats the purpose if you have nobody know what you’re doing and what the cause is,” Oddy said. seeking smaller donations from more people, Oddy is promoting not just the fundraising aspect, but awareness of the issues facing Africa, too.

As for not being an avid hiker, Oddy hopes to work on some training this summer. She said she is more worried about the elevation of these three peaks than her level of fitness.

“I would like to travel this fall to Colorado to do elevation training. That’s the hardest part and what causes most trouble,” she said, hoping some training would let her feel how her body reacts at different elevations.

“It’s something I wanted to do for helping people. Recreationally, it’s a huge challenge and goal to meet. Going to Africa, I always wanted to do,” she said. “This encompasses all of those things put together.”

While her emotions range from excited to nervous, Oddy said if anything, this will be a good life experience.

She is the youngest of the dozen women on the trip from the United States, Australia, France and the United Kingdom.

“We’re all from different walks of life,” Oddy said. “It’s not out of the question for the everyday person. It’s just getting yourself into decent shape.”

And for Oddy, it just proves, “I can do anything when I put my mind to it.”

 

Staff Writer Emma Bouthillette can be contacted at 791-6325 or at:

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