Dan M. Slack stood on the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro, the highest peak in Africa, but he didn't feel on top of the world.
"I felt like I had a severe hangover," said the general counsel and associate executive director of the $13.1 billion Illinois State Universities Retirement System, Champaign. "I was feeling the usual effects of high altitude: headache and nausea."
If George Leigh Mallory wanted to climb Mount Everest, as he famously said, "because it's there," Mr. Slack picked the African peak because of what might not soon be there: the snowcap. There is considerably less snow around the top of the mountain than photos show from some years ago, he explained.
Mr. Slack reached Uhuru Peak with three other travelers and three guides in February after a five-and-a-half-day ascent. "It's a trek," he said. "You can walk to the summit. It doesn't require mountain-climbing skills." You begin feeling the affects of a lack of oxygen after 12,000 feet, however.
"Our guides had oxygen (supplies) along in case it was needed for emergency purposes," he said. "But you just grin and bear it." He didn't use any. "It's sort of the view that unless you are severely sick you shouldn't use oxygen; it's not viewed as sporting."
"I've done a number of fourteeners," the term for mountains in Colorado above 14,000 feet, but Mount Kilimanjaro is the highest he's climbed and "the most difficult in terms of stamina to get to the top."
"But you don't climb it with ropes and carabiners," like other mountains he's done, that are more technically difficult.
On Kilimanjaro, in fact, "the government of Tanzania has put up Porta-Potties," he said, "to minimize the damage to the environment."