Largest Group of Blind Climbers and Youngest Blind Climber Summit Mt. Kilimanjaro



Last week, after a year of training, the largest group of blind climbers and the youngest blind climber set two world records successfully summiting Mt. Kilimanjaro. “Team Kili,” as they refer to themselves, left for the summit saying “Many doubted us all along the way, but we persevered. There is no doubt left in our hearts, only the will to succeed and get to 19,340 feet.

And they succeeded! After concluding their climb, the youngest climber to summit, Max Ashton (age 13), gave his hiking shoes to their African expedition guide at Kilimanjaro to “pay it forward” for climbs to come. Many of the guides, or porters, wear flip flops or actually go barefoot up and down the mountain – almost every day of the year, in the freezing cold & burning sun.

After a year of intense training, Team Kili, a group of blind climbers along with sighted guides from Phoenix-based non-profit, Foundation for Blind Children, reached the summit of Mt. Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, Africa on Monday, June 29, 2009.

Max Ashton, age 13. “I have been involved for over 12 years now. They showed up on our doorstep when I was only three months old. I am going on the Kili trip because I want to prove that kids can do anything. I’m only 12 years old which is in itself a challenge but I’m also blind. But the main reason why I want to go is because of the bragging rights.” Photo courtesy of


The entire team of 25 hikers started the trek up Mt. Kilimanjaro on Tuesday, June 22, 2009. Team Kili was guided by Expedition Leader and Foundation for Blind Children board member, Kevin Cherilla, and consisted of 8 blind climbers and 17 sighted guides.

News of the summit traveled fast, everyone at the base of Mt. Kilimanjaro knew of the summit right away because of the unique circumstances of the team; it is unusual for an entire group to make it to the top, unusual for children make it to the top, and unusual for blind climbers make it to the top. Reaching the summit of Mt. Kilimanjaro at 19,340 ft. is an incredible feat in itself, but climbing blind is an entirely different story. Team Kili broke two world records by reaching the summit, Largest Group of Blind Climbers to Summit Mt. Kilimanjaro and Youngest Blind Climber to Summit Mt. Kilimanjaro, Max Ashton, son of Foundation for Blind Children CEO, Marc Ashton.

Full details about the entire climb can be read in the blog featured on

A great source of inspiration and support, FBC continues to bring hope to the children and families that they touch every day and to the community as well.

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