Sunday, August 18, 2013

Kilimanjaro - did a TrailRider really go there?

For many years I've allowed myself to participate in the rumour that someone once ascended Kilimanjaro in a TrailRider. I thought I should check.

Jim Milna was his name and he did go there in 2002 and he did found Climbing Over Restriction and Disability Society but the one--wheeled chair they used does not look like a TrailRider. Could be an early version though - anyone choose to comment.

Everest Base Camp is another story.


  1. I had left a comment, but then got to playing with my Blogger profile and must have destroyed my comment.

    I had commented that "rumour" doesn't seem like the right word as BCMOS, who provide the Trailriders, says "Twice the TrailRider has reached the peak of Mt. Kilimanjaro, in 2002 and 2006."

    The chair in that photo looks very similar to current trailrider designs, though. It has the requisite elements (single wheel, hand brake at the back, front and back handles, similar arm-rests).

    1. I'd love to hear from BCMOS/Sam Sullivan on this.

      Meanwhile tells of the 2006 ascent

    2. Dear David

      By some cosmic coincidence or the mysteries of google I found your post. You are doing amazing things! I checked and there have been three people who have gone to Mount Kilimanjaro with TrailRiders. Jim Milina 2002, Brock Metcalf 2006, Juan Martin Botero of Cambridge Massacheusetts 2008. Thanks for your creative use of the Trailrider!

      Sam Sullivan

    3. Hi Sam

      Thank you so much for the TrailRider and the change it has wrought for my, and so many other's, lives. It is brilliant engineering - suited to purpose might be the phrase.

      I am hoping that we are on a trajectory towards Australian (licensced) manufacture.As with so much public awareness is the key.

  2. Some further bits of research. That photo looks like it is the same as the one from this page:

    That page links to this PDF:

    A quote:
    ”After three and a half days of climbing, some of which was quite horrendous, the team stood, and in Jim's case sat, side by side on the Saddle of Mount Kilimanjaro posing for a picture. That picture showed Jim to be the first quadriplegic to ever climb the mountain, the first wheelchair climber to ever ascend using the rugged northern Rongai route, as well as the first wheelchair climber to successfully 'climb over Mount Kilimanjaro' by climbing up one side and down the other. In accomplishing these feats, Jim also set a World Altitude Record for a Quadriplegic at 14,800 feet."

    The peak/summit of Kilimanjaro is 19,000+ ft, so that wasn't a summit climb, but certainly respectable.

    Here is a quoted copy of a Vancouver Sun article that describes the chair as "a modified TrailRider":

    1. Stephen Hunter I meant (not Sam Sullivan)

    2. Yeah, there was an article that mentioned Jim Milina as "helping design" the chair he used, but the Sun article seems to clarify that it was a TrailRider that was modified with his input.

      There is also reference to a documentary that was supposed to be made after the 2002 trip. I wonder if Jim has anything in that area he could share?

  3. Here is a blog covering the 2006 summit trip:

    A quote (19,000 feet, on the crater rim is still pretty impressive):
    "Now I want to talk about Brock Metcalf. Brock’s experiences on the mountain this week have given me a deeper appreciation of why I climb. I told him a few minutes ago he’s my brother and a man that I admire more than anyone else I know now. I know a mountaineer's passion in their eyes and I see it day in and day out in Brock Metcalf. We have been brothers in our efforts here and I know a lot of other people feel that way.

    So Brock and his wonderful team, the trailrider team reached Stella Point and we had to do our conference about whether we would go on. You have to understand that it is a mile or an hour and a half walking around the crater rim to that little point called Uhuru that is 300 feet higher than us where a bunch of us are going to try and go tomorrow.

    Brock talked to his teammates, his support team, he looked at me, I knew his answer when he looked at me and after we talked a bit more Brock said to me “I’m too high”. I broke out laughing and then crying because as a mountaineer I can’t remember the times that I’ve looked at my brothers around the world in high places and known, yes you are too high, which means that’s enough. We’ll be fine; we took it as far as the mountain wants us to go today. "

  4. Certainly looks to be a convincing arguement....good thing - I had swallowed the story hook line and sinker! Amazing!!


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