Profile of an Israel Outdoors Alum – Mountain Climbing Edition

Here at Israel Outdoors we are always interested in finding out more about our participants and learning about the interesting things that they do. Katie F. was just on a free Taglit-Birthright Israel trip with Israel Outdoors in December, and tells us about climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro with her father and brother.  Thanks for sharing Katie!

Where are you from?
I am from Reston, VA.

Katie Freedman KilimanjaroWhere do you live currently?
I graduated from Duke University (shout out to all my Blue Devils) last May, and am doing healthcare consulting in Northern Virginia. I currently live in Reston, but plan to move into D.C. this upcoming fall!

Why did you decide to climb Kilimanjaro?
My family and I have always been quite active. We love to run, ski, and scuba dive. Five years ago, my Dad, Brother, and I decided to try a new sport: mountain climbing. In 2009, we climbed Mt. Rainier in Seattle, Washington. According to my Dad, Mt. Rainier was supposed to be a “walk in the park.” In hindsight, that statement couldn’t be any further from the truth! After the climb, I vowed to never climb another mountain again; however, my Dad and Brother continued to climb all over the world in places like Russia, Argentina, and Mexico.

To make a long story short, fast forward four years to the summer of 2013. I was finally ready to take on another mountain. I had become a much more experienced hiker and completed a rigorous training program for Mt. Kilimanjaro. Our family team was back at it again and we crushed it!

How did it go?
The climb was great! We did the seven day summit climb up the Machame Route. The days were long and hard, but the views were absolutely breathtaking! We climbed through numerous vegetative environments. One morning, we bundled up and trekked through the misty clouds; two hours later, we had stripped down to t-shirts in somewhat of a desert-like environment! On summit day, we left high camp (15,000′) at 1 AM to catch the sunrise at the summit (19,340′). That was the hardest, but most rewarding day!

What was your favorite part of the climb?
My favorite part of our climb is that I did it with my Dad and Brother. We were truly the “Freedman Dream Team!” I was lucky to have been able to celebrate such a huge accomplishment with them by my side. The close runner up was the time that I almost accidentally rolled my Brother’s parka (jacket) down the side of the mountain. I would’ve made the “worst sister in the world” list that year.

Why did you decide to go on an Israel Outdoors trip?
My Brother and I wanted to get more in touch with our family’s heritage and religious roots. Not only that, but we loved the “outdoors” aspect of the trip. We were sold the minute we saw the word!

What was your favorite part of your Israel Outdoors trip?
Ah, this is a hard one. First of all, I have to give a brief shoutout to Bus 504! I think we may have been the best group in all of Israel Outdoors history. But in all seriousness, I couldn’t have imagined my Birthright experience without these 48 or so absolutely incredible, diverse, and talented individuals. I’ll list a few memories: floating on the Dead Sea, climbing Masada, celebrating New Year’s Eve in Tel Aviv, and playing competitive games of Heads Up (Ellen DeGeneres’s favorite game holllerrr). I can’t forget our daily pep talks so to speak, over the bus microphone from Bobby – we seriously never knew what we were going to get from him. Let’s just say my Urban Dictionary vocabulary has expanded exponentially. Also our group’s inability to count to 47 – somehow, we always got stuck at 6 or 10 (sorry Joshes, i’m calling you out!).

Anything else we should know about you?
My brother and I extended our trip after Birthright and spent the week visiting friends in Jordan. We flew to Amman, hiked throughout Petra, and Snorkeled the Dead Sea in Aqaba! I love to travel and can’t wait to go back to Israel.