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Colorado woman wants her Kilimanjaro hike to be a struggle

Claire Averill of Highlands Ranch will climb Mount Kilimanjaro to help eradicate the stigma surrounding mental health.

DENVER — Claire Averill is 65. Up until six months ago she hadn’t owned a sleeping bag and didn’t know what a headlamp was.

On Monday she’ll begin her climb to the top of the world’s tallest freestanding mountain - Mount Kilimanjaro.

“For the last six months I've been walking and climbing as much as I can. The biggest problem is, Kilimanjaro, the summit is 19,000 feet. Where do you train for that? So, I have been getting up to the mountains and doing a lot of hiking at ten-thousand, twelve-thousand feet,” said Averill.

She and seven friends will start their trip at about 7,000 feet. Several guides will assist them on a six-day trip to the summit. It’ll take another two days to get down.

“I was looking for something that would be a struggle for me. Those afflicted with mental health conditions certainly have days where they struggle. And this is going to be a struggle for me,” she explained.

This trip is about giving those who struggle with mental illness a voice. She wants people to start talking about the tough stuff in their lives.

She’s raising awareness of an organization called The Happy Crew. You can follow Averill's journey on Instagram. Her handle is @ClaireAverill.