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North Van paraglider taking part in largest ascent ever of Mount Kilimanjaro
Obviously this North Vancouver man isn't afraid of heights.
From nearly 20,000 feet, Justin Kyllo will be paragliding off the world's tallest freestanding mountain, Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania.
After he spends seven days climbing, the flight down will take about an hour.
"I've been flying since 1998, so I'm not too worried," Kyllo tells The Outlook just before boarding his flight.
"It's a little overwhelming though. It is 20,000 feet after all."
Kyllo will make the trip up Kilimanjaro with around 100 other paraglider pilots and 700 supporters.
The Tanzanian government previously forbidden paragliding from the top, but temporarily lifted the ban since the group is gathering money for charity. The project, called Wings of Kilimanjaro, aims to raise $1 million.
"This is the largest ascent of Mount Kilimanjaro ever," says Kyllo, who owns Smoke and Bones BBQ in North Van and is two-time Canadian barbecue champion. "Nothing like this has ever been done before."
The group started the climb on Jan. 28 and will reach the top on Feb. 3. During this time, they will acclimate themselves to the thin air on the summit.
Even with Kyllo's relaxed attitude, his wife Cheryl admits she's a bit worried.
"I'm nervous for him, but I know how important this is for him. I'm worried about altitude sickness. You can prep as much as possible for it, but you can't do anything about it."
Common effects of high altitude, such as freezing temperatures, nausea, dizziness and fatigue, will cause some paraglider pilots to give up on takeoff, Kyllo says. Pilots from more than 60 countries, including Russia, Nepal and Singapore, as well as seven Canadians, have applied.
The first recorded summit of Kilimanjaro was in 1889. Today, around 25,000 people have attempted with a 70 per cent success rate.
"Launching paragliders takes intense concentration and physical exertion, which become difficult tasks at high altitude," Kyllo explains as an announcement tells him to board the 20-hour flight.
Money the team is raising will be given to three charities: The One Foundation, which updates schools in the country; Plant With Purpose, a charity that addresses deforestation and poverty in rural Tanzanian communities and WorldServe International, which specializing in clean water projects.