On September 12, 2015, disaster struck when 33-year old American author and entrepreneur Scott Dinsmore was hit by a boulder while climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro.
Scott and his wife of five years, Chelsea, were on a one-year trip around the globe, for which they sold their San Francisco home, bought a couple of backpacks, and jetted off. Prior to Tanzania, they had visited 20 countries, including Montenegro, Croatia, Turkey, and Marrakesh.
The couple almost canceled their visit to Tanzania – Scott made a post on his blog that he’d nearly didn’t book the trip, because he was unsure about taking a ‘digital break.’ But at the last minute, Scott had a change of heart. “Last week Chelsea and I spent a few days in Dubrovnik, Croatia, celebrating our five-year wedding anniversary, in the same hotel we’d stayed in during our honeymoon. Being there reminded me of something. During our honeymoon, we were totally off the grid. No computers, phones, Wi-Fi, social media, nothing. It was perfect.” Not much later, a post from the Dinsmores: “Onward to Tanzania and then Off the Grid as we head up Mt. Kilimanjaro. #DinsmoreWorldTour.”
There are three routes to the summit of Africa’s tallest mountain: the south, via Stella Point, the north, via Gilman’s Point, and the most technically challenging of the three, the Western Breach. The young couple was on the sixth-day of their eight-day climb through the Western Breach when the accident occurred. Sadly, this isn’t the first time someone has died on the western slopes – the statistics aren’t entirely clear, but approximately 3-7 hikers die on Kilimanjaro each year, typically due to falls, hypothermia, and altitude-related illnesses.
The San Franciscan was the founder of a company called Live Your Legend, which encourages people to find and pursue their dream jobs, providing books, videos, and weekly articles on the subject. He was best known for his TED Talk, “How to Find and Do Work You Love,” which currently has 3.1 million views on YouTube. After his death, Live Your Legend staff made a post on their website, liveyourlegend.net, that said, “He didn’t just talk about living a life of passion and purpose, he was actually out there doing it. Being the change he wanted to see in the world.”
Around 35,000 people climb Kilimanjaro each year, and not all of them are young world travelers like the Dinsmores. Just a month after Scott’s passing, 86-year old Angela Vorobyova became the oldest person to ever climb the summit, and she claimed to have minimal mountain-climbing experience and no special training.
Africa’s tallest peak is, in fact, comprised of the cones of three dormant volcanoes, which explains why German geologist Hans Meyer was the first to reach the summit in 1889, along with Ludwig Purtscheller, and a local named Lauwo. This feat came relatively late in exploring the history, and it’s no wonder – as the tragedy of Scott Dinsmore has proven, Kilimanjaro is a dangerous place. But as more climbers have mounted the peak, the route configurations have improved, and skilled guides now assist climbers in their journey to the 19,341 ft. Uhuru Peak. In fact, most tour operators claim that 85% of their trekkers make it to the top. As can be seen in the case of Scott Dinsmore, however, these improvements haven’t totally eliminated the risk of a climb.
“He always said, ‘I want to live a life of no regrets,’ and he did. He left us in one of the most beautiful places either of us have ever been,” said his wife. “He was so happy he was disconnected from everything other than nature and me. It’s a tragic loss.”