Thursday, January 19, 2006

Fairmont State chemistry professor Dr. Matt Scanlon freely admits there was no academic component to scaling Mount Kilimanjaro, but that experience, along with taking part in an African safari, are not ones he will forget any time soon.

Scanlon, a Pennsylvania native who has been teaching at Fairmont State for 10-plus years, took the trip to Africa with some friends last summer. On safari, among the animals Scanlon got to see in their native habitats were lions, a zebra, giraffes, antelope and gazelle.

"The safari was amazing. The animals are just unbelievable out there in the wild," Scanlon said.

As for the mountain climb, the fact that the ascent takes seven and a half days and the descent takes only a day and half, speaks for itself in telling just how demanding it is to reach the summit of Africa's highest peak. Although the climb was not steep enough to require ropes, Scanlon and his party had to use their hands some along the route they took to the top. It helped that the party, which included Scanlon, his brother, his nephew and friends, had porters to carry their gear.

"The hiking isn't the tough part. It's acclimating to the altitude," Scanlon said.
The adventure in Africa made for an expensive vacation, but Scanlon said he is seriously considering another mountain climb, possibly in South America.

"It was well worth it," Scanlon said of his time spent in the wilds of Africa. "Every part of it, and the challenge, was fun."