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Veterans Climb Mt. Kilimanjaro Using Prosthetic Legs

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By Ginger Moored

A veteran from Maryland and two other former servicemen have climbed Africa’s tallest mountain. And they did it with only one leg between the three of them.

At more than 19,000 feet, Mt. Kilimanjaro is not an easy climb. It took Kirk Bauer, a 62-year old from Ellicot City, Maryland, 6 days to reach the top.

"We were climbing over very loose rock, so every time you took a step with the artificial leg it slipped back almost half the distance you tried to climb up. So basically you were climbing a mountain and a half," says Bauer.

Bauer lost a leg in the Vietnam war. And his two climbing partners are both double amputees from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. They all wore computerized prostheses that can sense changing terrain and make adjustments.

"Unfortunately, at the high altitude of 15,000 feet, the computer stopped working so I had to go back to the mechanical leg," he says.

So for the next 4,000 feet or so up Bauer walked with what was more like a stiff peg than a leg.

"It took everything I had to get up there but it was just a spectacular moment," he says.

Bauer organized the trip through the the non-profit he runs, Disabled Sports USA. Still on the to do list for organization members is a 197 mile run in Oregon and a 26 mile trek through the desert in New Mexico.


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