Beauty Entrepreneur Toni Ko on Summiting Tanzania’s Mount Kilimanjaro — With a Full Face of Makeup

“I am proud to be a woman. I’m proud to be in the beauty industry,” said Ko, who reached the summit of Kilimanjaro on September 12 after a grueling seven-day trek. Travel + Entertainment. “Someone like me might seem very unusual doing the things I do, but it’s a misconception that you can’t be girly, rude and depressed at the same time.”

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Ko wasn’t always an outdoor adventure seeker. It wasn’t until the last few years that he began to embrace the power of connecting with nature while pushing his mental and physical limits to the next level.

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“It just excites me. I get energized and happy,” Ko explained of her new love of going all out and spending time in the great outdoors.

<p>Courtesy of Tony Coe</p>
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Choosing Kilimanjaro

Ko, who describes himself as more of a “mental athlete” than a physical one, took on the challenge of climbing the world’s highest free-standing mountain as part of a bigger “say yes” year.

“One of the reasons I started planning Mount Kilimanjaro is because I turned 49 this year, and I decided I would have a year to say yes to everything,” Ko explained.

After reading about the destination in books and hearing about it through conversations with friends, he knew it was time to take the first of many steps. So he booked a trip with luxury travel company Scott Dunn, which also included a five-day safari before the trek.

“I believe the universe was just waiting for me to be in the right mental and physical stage to tackle Kilimanjaro,” Ko said.

<p>Courtesy of Tony Coe</p>
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Ko followed an informal training program leading up to the trip that included hot yoga, Pilates, meditation and weekend hikes, as well as monthly meetups with her friends for more challenging hikes up to 10,000 feet. Ko thought he would be fine in Tanzania, especially remembering how easily he navigated the high altitude of Peru, but it was nothing compared to Kilimanjaro, also known as the ‘Roof of Africa’.

“It was literally the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life,” Ko said. “I underestimated the power of altitude, high mountains and Kilimanjaro.”

<p>Courtesy of Tony Coe</p>
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Hiking along the Lemosho route

Every day, Ko and the seven other women on the trip woke up before dawn to eat breakfast prepared by the staff cook. They will then begin their daily six-hour walk, accompanied by more than 60 porters and guides who came as part of Scott Dunn’s trip.

Although there are shorter options to summit Kilimanjaro, Ko and his group embarked on the eight-day Lemosho route. Not only is this trail less crowded, but the longer route gives the body more time to adjust to the altitude, giving hikers about a 90% chance of climbing. Ko credits much of his summit success to the group’s lead guide, Charles Obed, of A-Team, a local Tanzanian operator.

“Here I am before going up the mountain, and here I am coming down the mountain,” Ko said. “I will forever be a changed person because of Charles.”

Getting to the top

As Ko struggled through the cold and early morning darkness on summit day, battling altitude sickness all the while, the crew continued to sing and encourage him until he reached the summit.

“I felt so many times. “Oh my God, I can’t, it’s impossible for me to take another step,” Ko explained. “I almost quit, but I kept reminding myself that I had to do it. I have two legs. Fortunately, I can take one more step. I can push forward. I can do it.”

Ko was the last of his group to climb, but the victory was just as sweet. After a few photos from the top, Ko came down the mountainside, transformed. Those changes and life lessons have stayed with him more than a month later, and Ko doesn’t think they’re going anywhere.

<p>Courtesy of Tony Coe</p>
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“I have already applied these lessons [back home] because it’s engraved in my soul and in my mind,” he said.

With a long way to go before his 50th birthday in April 2023, Ko said he will continue to look for new ways to challenge himself and say yes to new adventures that help him live life to the fullest.

“We have one life, and if you only live one version of life, it’s so one-dimensional, isn’t it? I don’t want to go to my grave having only lived one dimension of life,” Ko said. “I want to experience many dimensions: the goodness, the juiciness of life, but I also want to experience the hardships and difficulties.”

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Read the original article Travel & Leisure.


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