By Lyndee Johns
What do you do with your best friends?
Watch movies, go bowling, talk about classes or work?
Have you ever hiked the highest free-standing mountain in the world with them?
BYU nursing alums Lindsay Egbert and Bethanie Price have.
Egbert and Price have been friends for ten years, meeting in the BYU Nursing program in 2010, graduating in 2011, and attending the CRNA program together at Samuel Merritt University.
As they went through the trials of the CRNA program, both decided that they needed a light at the end of the tunnel—a graduation trip. When a mutual friend called them in 2018 with the idea to hike Kilimanjaro in 2020, Egbert and Price knew that this was the trip they had been looking for.
“Hiking Kilimanjaro, as well as going on an African safari and visiting Africa in general, has been on my bucket list for years,” says Egbert.
“I love the outdoors and love hiking, so Kilimanjaro has been on my bucket list of mountains to hike for a long time,” says Price. “It’s a tall mountain, but doesn’t require any climbing gear or experience. So it’s very accessible, which made it very appealing to me.”
But while hiking Kilimanjaro is easier than scaling Everest, it is still 19,340 feet high, which means that getting altitude sickness is a real possibility. Both women had to prepare physically to make the trek. For example, Price trained in Utah to get used to a higher elevation, constantly hiking, skiing, or running on a treadmill.
Egbert and Price traveled to Tanzania in February 2020, along with four others from the Salt Lake area and California.
Soon after they arrived, it was time to hit the trail.
Egbert and Price hiked Mt. Kilimanjaro with the group Climb Kili—a company that provides tourists with climbing equipment and guides. Along with 17 porters, and three guides, the group hiked up the mountain for eight days via the Lemosho route.
Both Egbert and Price appreciated the efforts of the guides and porters to help them climb Kilimanjaro.
“We would not have succeeded without them, and it was so fun getting to know them,” says Price. “The first thing I took away [from the experience] was how amazing and humble the Tanzanian people are. They worked so hard for eight days to help us six Americans reach the summit for such little pay compared to America . . . They were always so happy and helpful. It has instilled in me a deeper sense of work ethic and finding the good in any situation I’m in.”
“Interacting and learning from the native Tanzanians on that mountain was special to me,” says Egbert. “I was taught in a very personal way just how much Heavenly Father loves all of His children.”
While it was rough going, Egbert and Price enjoyed the time to bond with the rest of the group members.
“Our entire group quickly became good friends,” says Egbert. “The atmosphere we created was positive, supportive, and energetic. It made difficult things not only possible, but enjoyable.”
Egbert and Price had a blast climbing the mountain together.
“I loved hiking the mountain with Beth. Since we met at BYU, we have been on countless adventures together. This was by far our biggest adventure!” says Egbert.
“It was also a lot of fun to hike with a friend. We got to know each other better and had someone to lean on when the going got a little rough. You gotta have someone there to laugh with you when it’s day seven without a shower!” says Price.
While summit night was a difficult one, it all became worth it when they reached the summit just in time to see the sun rise. “We experienced the most beautiful sunrise I’ve ever seen at the top of the mountain,” says Price.
Both friends agree that they need a break before trying anything of this magnitude again.
“I think I would hike it again if I had some time between the hikes. Time meaning like at least five years,” says Price.
Along with hiking Kilimanjaro, Egbert and Price were able to experience an African safari and explore the town of Arusha during their time in Tanzania. Both were able to make friends with the locals and learn more about their culture and their country.
“I learned about the history of Kilimanjaro, the ecosystem of Serengeti and Ngorongoro, the cultural practices of Tanzanian tribes,” says Egbert when describing what she learned on the trip.
Egbert and Price are back in California now, working as CRNAs in Kaiser Permanente Santa Clara Medical Center and Kaiser Permanente Redmond Medical Center respectively. But the lessons that they learned while climbing Kilimanjaro stay with them.
“It re-instilled in me the notion that we can all do hard things,” says Price. “When things get overwhelming, just take things slowly, get to know others, focus on serving someone else, and you’ll get through! And there are always people out there rooting for you to accomplish your goals.”
“This trip was symbolic for me. CRNA school was incredibly difficult. It pushed me to my physical, emotional, and mental limits at times. I wanted to climb this mountain to not only represent having successfully accomplished CRNA school but also to show myself that after long and trying times of life, bucket-list dreams can and do happen,” says Egbert. “I loved our trip to Tanzania and especially enjoyed doing it with my best friend. We conquered BYU’s nursing school together, Samuel Merritt’s CRNA program together, and now Kilimanjaro.”