In 2015, Angela Vorobyova, then 86 years old, became the oldest person to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro. Her legs and lungs carried her to the top, but it was her love for her deceased sister that wouldn’t let her quit.
The former schoolteacher from east Russia took on the 19,341-foot mountain with her 62-year-old daughter in order to fulfill a promise she made to her sister, Lida, 80 years prior.
Vorobyova was just a young girl when Lida died of pneumonia at 12 years old. Her vow to her older sister? Travel the world.
“The date of my conquering the Kilimanjaro – 29 October – was not chosen by chance. I knew about the monsoons and bad weather at this time of year. But it was important to climb to the top on this particular day,” Vorobyova explained to the Siberian Times. “Eighty years ago I made a promise to my sister, Lida, that I would travel for both of us. Lida was older than I, she was born in 1923 and died of pneumonia. She lived only 12 years and 4 days. I loved her. October 29 – the day when I went to the (highest summit on Kilimanjaro) Uhuru Peak – was the day of her birth. I dedicated this climb to her.”
She handled the thin air fairly well over the seven-day trek, according to Altezza Travel, never needing supplemental oxygen or even a first aid kit. But, she did temporarily lose her voice during the ascent.
“I had never thought about turning back,” she told The Siberian Times. “At an altitude of 4,000 meters, we even danced the tango with our guide. And at 5,000 meters we saw the sunrise. Sunrise above the clouds. That’s impressive.”
But more impressive than Vorobyova’s spirit and zest for seeing the world? That’s debatable.
“Traveling is not only the cognition of the world, it’s more about the cognition of yourself, what you can, what are you worth in this life,” she said.
And with a perspective like that, it’s no wonder she reached Africa’s tallest peak.