Traveler's Tales

I Wore Stilettos on Kilimanjaro

by Rima Suqi

Rima looking flawless and in style on top of Mount Kilimanjaro. Photo: Rima Suqi

If you're going to do something as memorable and once-in-a-lifetime as climbing Mount Kilimanjaro, do it in style. Heels, shades, attitude, Chanel. Take that, middle age.

KILIMANJARO – If there's one piece of advice I would give to anyone headed up Kilimanjaro, it's this: Do not do the sunrise summit. Why? Because it will be you and about 200 other people up there, all trying to get a photo in front of the famous sign in semi darkness.

The way to do it is the way you do every day, which in my case meant leaving camp around 7:30 or 8 a.m. and doing whatever is required of that day. Usually this meant getting to the next pre-scheduled camp. On summit day, it meant hitting the top and then hiking down the back side to camp amongst the glaciers. I got to that famous sign around 2:30 p.m., and nobody was up there except for me, my guide, and (I believe) our awesome cook, Luca.

Piece of advice #2: If you're marking an occasion, mark the fucking occasion! Wear some lipstick! Add a big-ass cocktail ring! Throw on some heels! Hell, I did. I was turning 40 the day after climbing Kilimanjaro, and the timing was no accident. These photos were taken on the last day of my 30s, and I was perfectly happy to bid them goodbye. But I had to do it in style.

The glasses: a surprise gift made specifically for me for the climb by Selima of Selima Optique. She still carries "Rima" in the collection.

The ring: a blindingly large blue tourmaline, surrounded by several rows of Indian diamonds. Designed by Nancey Chapman, and a gift from my BFF Gail.

The shoes: awesome, four-inch, zipper wonders by Gunmetal, one of my favorite brands ever that sadly no longer exists.

The lipstick: a classic Chanel red.

My guide loved the fact that I carried those shoes in my backpack for the six days it took to get up the mountain. He said I was the first person he'd taken up who'd ever done something like that. I just hope I wasn't the last.


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