Return to Kilimanjaro: Paul Magelli sets his sights on the summit

Paul Magelli trains for the climb.
Paul Magelli trains for the climb.

This summer, Dr. Paul Magelli will be climbing his way to the top – for a cause.

He has been in training with the Mayo Clinic to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro for scientific research. In August, they will attempt to climb to the summit of the mountain.

The team, which includes Mayo Clinic professor of medicine and physiology Dr. Bruce Johnson, plans to use the climb to study heart disease and aging. The mountain will enable them to study how humans adapt to the effects of oxygen and high altitude – which can have an impact on the way we understand the effects of heart disease on the body. As someone who has lived with heart disease for roughly 40 years, Magelli is well positioned to help them in their research.

This won’t be his first visit to Mt. Kilimanjaro. Their team attempted a climb in 2011, but a variety of conditions prevented them from reaching the summit. Now, Magelli is 85 years old, and stands to be the oldest person on record to attempt this climb. In addition to facilitating scientific research, he also wants to inspire more people to lead active lifestyles.

“I’m looking forward to it,” he said about the climb. “There are a number of people who question why I’m going, and honestly, I don’t know why. But ever since I went the last time, I want the summit, and to be the oldest man who’s ever done so. I think it’s significant that people who have had cardiac events have options that they may not have thought possible.”

How does he stay so active at his age? “Diet, exercise, and meditation have kept me feeling young,” he explained.

Conrad Anker, captain of The North Face Athlete Team, will lead the climb, and they hope to be joined by a crew from 60 Minutes – and possibly a celebrity or two.

More information about the project can be found at http://heartclimb.com/.