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January 14, 2013

On top of the world: City native celebrates 60th birthday by scaling Mount Kilimanjaro

NEW CASTLE — Leave it to New Castle native Oliver Livermore to reach new heights on his 60th birthday.

As a teenager in the 1960s, Livermore was part of a Boy Scout troop that camped out on Kennedy Square in the thick of winter.

More than four decades later, the New Castle native continues to challenge his body — as in climbing Mount Kilimanjaro in Africa.

Although Kilimanjaro doesn’t have the highest elevation, it is the tallest freestanding mountain rise (19,341 feet from its base) in the world.

That’s the equivillent of stacking Pittsburgh’s tallest building — the 64-story U.S. Steel Tower — 27 times.

Kilimanjaro contains an example of virtually every ecosystem on earth — glacier, snowfields, deserts, alpine moorland, savannah and tropical jungle, all of which are found on the mountain. Livermore experienced it all.

Livermore calls himself an outdoorsman who likes excitement. “You only live once,” he said.

Bobbi Acres of New Castle remembers her friend from Ben Franklin Junior High. In 1982, Livermore moved to Cincinnati, where he works as an IT specialist for computer systems. However, the two re-connected on the Internet a few years ago and have been corresponding since.

“He was always an outgoing and fun-loving person,” she said.

Make that prepared, too.

GEARING UP

Livermore begin training for his task in in a gym in Cincinnati nine months before the climb. It was three days a week most of the year, but he kicked it up to five days during the final month.

Livermore’s biggest fear was altitude sickness, which occurs when you cannot get enough oxygen from the air at high altitudes. This causes symptoms such as a headache, loss of appetite and trouble sleeping. It happens most often when people who are not used to high altitudes go from lower altitudes to 8,000 feet or higher.

So three weeks before the climb, he traveled to Pike’s Peak to test himself. “I wanted to get 15,000 feet and see what it would do to me.”

“Your body has to acclimate to changes in altitude,” he said. “You have to know if your body is ready.”

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