Jada Antelope returned to Ethete this week after spending twenty-seven days on the Tanzania Scientific Research Expedition Course through NOLS and Central Wyoming College’s Alpine Science Institute (ASI). Now that she is back, her studies in Expedition Science begin this spring through CWC.
Jada explained she had a friend summit Kilimanjaro last year, and they shared how crazy their experience was climbing. Being competitive with this friend, this prompted Jada to also set her sights on tackling Africa’s highest peak (19,341′).
Jacki Klancher, ASI director of instruction and research, asked if Jada wanted to go to Africa after she enrolled in ASI this past fall. “Jackie did all the paperwork and made magic happen so I could go,” Jada said. “The course was super cool.” It seemed a little tougher than an ordinary NOLS course she noted. Finding the energy for both the physical part of the course and then transitioning into research was challenging.
The students spent their first week being immersed in the culture and language of the Maasai tribespeople. They quickly transitioned to the scientific aspects of the expedition, which took them up Kilimanjaro. They also began work on research projects and hypotheses. Jade worked with her friend Tawna Herrera with her hypothesis, which was “that there is a negative correlation of drug-resistant bacteria with elevation gain.”
All but one person were able to summit Kilimanjaro at the end of the course. They spent two nights around 17,000,’ and that’s where they could feel the impacts of the elevation. “Five steps were enough to get me out of breath,” Jada shared. “I couldn’t set up the tent. I had to sit down and collect myself.” Often difficult to regain her breath and standing up too quickly could cause throbbing headaches and nausea. “Eating felt impossible.”
At 19,000′ symptoms felt twice as strong. “I was hiking and crying,” she noted. Asking herself questions like, “Why do people go this high?” and “What am I doing?”
“So hard mentally, had a great crew behind you,” Jada shared about summiting. “All a mental game. If you think you can and believe you can, then your body can carry you anywhere. It taught me how to be mentally strong, how to push through, and obtain this huge goal. More mentally exhausting than physically. I see the summit; I need to get there. It was a lot of stress, and I feel like getting to the top was proving what I set out to do.”
Since returning this week, Jada has been resting and transitioning back into a routine. She’s also getting ready to begin her classes.