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Amateur Climber Gets a View From the Top

Tish Duffy has been on top of the world — and looking down all she saw were clouds. From Uhuru Peak on Mount Kilimanjaro , that fluffy white sea was much closer than the African plains it obscured.

"They were just like waves crashing into the mountain," Duffy said as she sat in a Fairfield Starbucks, sipping coffee and recalling her August adventure. A massive photo album holds all the pictures from the 33-year-old's trip.

Throughout it, alien landscapes and seas of clouds marked her journey to the highest point on the world's largest freestanding mountain. It might seem like a daunting trek for someone who had never tackled a real mountain before, but Duffy wasn't concerned.

"I'm lucky. Altitude sickness just doesn't affect me," she said. At 19,341 feet, Kilimanjaro's peak is the highest on the African continent, making it one of the Seven Summits . Months of training didn't hurt. Duffy relied on friends at Wilton's Outdoor Sports Center to make sure she had the proper gear.

By her own admission, the journey up is made significantly easier by porters who carry most of the gear and guides who take them up well-traversed trails. Still, some days they hiked for 18 hours straight. As they neared the peak, one person in her group had to turn back because of altitude sickness.

For the last few hours, Duffy pushed on ahead and arrived first at the marker denoting the highest point on the mountain. It was there that she had her only regret: She couldn't pose for a photo in her silk black cocktail dress.

"It was just too cold, and I wasn't ready for it. The last thing I wanted to do was become a liability on the trip down because I got frostbite. But I have it all planned out. I know how to do it next time," said Duffy, beaming at her accomplishment and anticipating the next adventure.

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