Mountaineer Thomas Lämmle climbed Mount Everest without supplemental oxygen. After a serious accident with a paraglider, however, he ended up in a wheelchair – with the suspicion that he would never be able to walk again. However, he could not resign himself to that. He started training hard and set himself a goal: to climb his beloved Kilimanjaro once again.
„And if that’s only possible with crutches, then so be it.“
Eight days of climbing can be boring. And tiring. In both cases, it helps to have a great troop around you to build you up when you’re not feeling well and to reach under your arms when your legs get wobbly.
Our troop – Thomas once left out – consisted of five Swabians and a Swabian and we all climbed not the first time on a mountain, but the first time on such a high one. We were able to prepare the muscles by hiking often and long beforehand. But how you react to thin altitude air, that can hardly be trained.
How to properly adapt to the altitude, what to look out for and what to avoid. All this is explained in the documentary. And also: how we fared in the process and why we all climbed the same mountain, but each had to reach his own summit.
I produced the film: Michael Scheyer. Like the others in the group, I had to acclimatize well to reach the summit. I had the slightly bigger challenge: holding the camera without breathing loudly or shaking. It worked – almost. At the end, where the air became thinner and thinner, it could not be avoided that a few breaths could be heard. After all: everything completely authentic.
When I reported on Thomas‘ accident for a newspaper, he said to me about his plan to climb Kilimanjaro: „And if that’s only possible with crutches, then so be it.“ And I said, „Thomas, if you go up there with crutches, then I’ll go with you.“ And that’s how the film came about.
Born in southern Germany in 1980, I successfully completed my studies in theater, film and television studies, philosophy and sociology at the University of Cologne in 2009. From 2011 to 2014, I did a traineeship at the Schwäbische Zeitung, where I worked for seven more years as an editor for various media. Since April 2021 I am a freelance journalist, press officer and film producer.
Several of my short feature films have been shown at festivals and won minor awards. In 2004 my short film „EX“ received the 1st prize of the jury of the Kurz.Spiel.Filme of the Zebra Cinema in Constance. My cross-media radio report „Nadine Schwimmt“ was nominated for the Media Award of the Landesanstalt für Kommunikation in 2013. In 2017, I won the Media Award of the State Institute for Communication in the category „Current Contribution“ for the TV contribution „Bürger rüsten auf“. And what else there is to know can be found here: mscheyer.de
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Many routes lead to the summit of Kilimanjaro. The easiest is probably the Lemosho route. It is usually done in seven days. However, Extrek Africa guides usually offer it in eight days. The one extra day helps to acclimatize better. Kilimanjaro, by the way, is not a single mountain, but a massif consisting of three peaks: Shira, Kibo and Mawenzi. Uhuru Peak is located on Kibo and is the highest peak with 5895 meters.
During the eight days the landscape changes almost daily. From savannah to dense jungle to the arid vegetation of steppes to the dusty alpine high desert. And in between: green oases stretching along mountain streams with plants that can only be found on Kilimanjaro. This picture gallery shows the impressive landscape of the protected nature park. And the breathtaking nature of the park is also one of the main characters in the one-and-a-half-hour documentary film.
The guides on Kilimanjaro always say: You climb the mountain 30 percent with your feet and 70 percent with your head. Perhaps it’s similar with the self-healing powers. Where there’s a will, there’s a way, as the saying goes. And if you don’t want anything, you can’t achieve anything.
Thomas Lämmle set himself the goal of being able to walk again. And he has put all his strength and energy into achieving this goal. But where does Thomas actually get this motivation from? I asked him that on the way up.
Extrek Africa is a non-profit organization, started by Thomas and based in Tanzania. Extrek Africa offers tours on Mount Kilimanjaro and the neighboring Mount Meru and employs guides, porters and cooks. The money Extrek Africa generates stays entirely in Tanzania with the people who work there. So if you want to climb Kilimanjaro, you can go with Extrek Africa. Then you are also doing something good.
In order to support Extrek Africa financially – to buy equipment or to expand the farm – a non-profit association was founded in the winter of 2020: „Friends of Extrek Africa e.V.“ based in Waldburg. This association is chaired by Thomas.
For more information about Extrek Africa and the Friends of Extrek Africa association, please visit: http://www.extrek-africa.com