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Top of the rock

By Jeff Green | June 20, 2008

The Memorial flag proudly swayed in the wind atop of the world’s highest free-standing, snow-covered equatorial peak earlier this month.

That’s when a team of 10 – including eight women from this province – reached the peak of Africa’s Mount Kilimanjaro which is a staggering 19,340 feet (5,895 metres) high.

The team had strong connections to Memorial.

It included alumna Diane Rendell, Marian Wissink, who works in the Department of Computer Science, Dr. TA Loeffler from the School of Human Kinetics and Recreation, Abigail Steel, a PhD student in engineering, and alumna Flora Seymour.

Other teammates included alumna Wanda Highmore, as well as Leslie Grattan, Ann Marie Lane and Americans Karen Warren and Nancy Andrew.

The team began their ascent of Mount Kilimanjaro on June 1 and successfully made it to the top on June 7.

It was an exhaustive climb and took more than nine hours but in the end it was worth it.

“I reached the summit and put my arms above my head. I then hugged each team member as they arrived at the top,” said Dr. Loeffler.

“It was thrilling when the entire team made it to the top – it made the accomplishment all the sweeter,” added Dr. Loeffler. “All of our hard work had come to fruition. We gathered around the summit marker and sang the Ode to Newfoundland. Between the thin air and the tears streaking our faces it was quite a feat.  We figure we now hold the record for the highest singing of the Ode.”

Dr. Loeffler is one of Memorial’s most recognizable educators and is an experienced climber. In fact, she helped train and motivate some of the team members, the majority of whom had never tackled an adventure quite like Kilimanjaro.

“I was so proud of each woman as she arrived at the summit knowing how much time and effort had been put in to reaching there,” she noted. “Having us all at the summit was so special.

“We've made the province proud and each woman has become a role model for others through her climbing and training,” Dr. Loeffler added. “We ranged in age from 42-60 and many wondered if we could all do it.  I'm so happy to say the answer is a resounding ‘yes’.”

Photos from the adventure, as well as journal entries made along the trip, are available on Dr. Loeffler’s website.