Source: Sherman Publications

Climb for a cause
Locals to scale Mt. Kilimanjaro for Compassionate Life

by David Fleet

September 28, 2011

Three days up and two days down.

It’s soon to be five days to the Roof of Africa—Mt. Kilimanjaro—for a group of five local hikers who will leave on a two-week adventure this month.

“It’s not like a Walt Disney trip,” said Deb Compeau, a Goodrich resident and one of four local nurse anesthetists who will make the climb. We have been planning this trip for over a year.”

Deb’s husband, Dan Compeau, the chief operating officer for Williams Gunsight in Davison, will also join the group.

The United Republic of Tanzania is home to the 19,340-foot high Mt. Kilimanjaro. The 18-hour flight for the group originates from Detroit Metropolitan Airport to Amsterdam, Netherlands to Dar es Salaam, Tanzania and concludes at Kilimanjaro National Airport. Following a one-day stay in Arusha National Park at 5,000 feet above sea level, the climbers, with a support team, will head up the mountain.

The five-day trek to the top is unique since it begins in the humid tropical rainforest of the Arusha National Park near the equator, then continues past the tree line to snow-covered Uhuru Peak.

Yet while the quest to the summit of Kilimanjaro remains the ultimate goal of the group, a second equally important objective is paramount for the hikers.

“We wanted to do something good—to give back to Africa so we chose the Compassionate Life Foundation to help raise money,” she said.

The Campeaus have been supporting Compassionate Life—a non-denominational foundation seeking to show love and compassion to the poor and needy people of the world with a special focus on caring for orphans and widows.

“We paid for our trip to Kilimanjaro and Africa on our own and are seeking donations to Compassionate Life from our climb,” she said. “If anyone would like to give, check out for all the details.”

Preparation for the challenging climb, which has added purpose by fulfilling the needs of others through Compassionate Life, has already incorporated some rigorous adventures.

While only three-quarters of the height of Mt. Kilimanjaro, the Compeaus practiced on the 14,100-foot high Pikes Peak located in Colorado.

“The climb’s not quite Mt. Kilimanjaro—you can order a spaghetti dinner half way up Pike’s,” she said. “But you can still feel the effects of altitude, which include a slight headache. There was also a swing in temperature—that’s to be expected on Kilimanjaro.”

The local group of five, joined by two climbers from New York and two from Minnesota,, will camp the night before reaching the summit near the rim of a semi-active volcano.

“Our sleeping bags were recommended to be rated down to minus-15 degrees,” she said. “It’s a lunar landscape and we start making the final climb at about midnight, so at daybreak we’re at Gilman’s Point, a dormant volcano just below the summit.”

After the groups descend they will spend a few days on the tropical island of Zanzibar and a safari at the Ngorongoro Crater Conservation Area before returning to Michigan.

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Compassionate Life is hosting a fundraising dinner, Legacy of Love, Harvest Celebration Dinner from 6-9:30 p.m., Oct. 8 at the Candlelite Banquet Center, 6817 Dixie Highway, Bridgeport. Details: 810-496-1819.