The Women Who Climb Mountains

Claire Miles
Dec 29, 2019

Who says plus-size women can’t climb Kilimanjaro? International Women’s Day has come and gone, but honestly, isn’t every day woman’s day? So in honor of women everywhere, a group of women came together to climb the highest mountain in Africa. In doing so they made the outdoors a far more welcoming place for women of each and every size. Nature is beautiful. Nature does not pass judgments on those who wander in its beauty. Unfortunately, the industry that caters to the outdoors prevents certain people from feeling like they fit in.

Larger-bodied women can certainly accomplish feats as incredible as climbing Kilimanjaro, but it’s also true that they face challenges from finding bigger gear, carrying heavier packs to accommodate the bigger gear, and setting a moderate pace. In light of this, Christa Singleton founded the Curvy Kili Crew in 2017. This group of 20 plus-size women came together and set the goal of climbing Kilimanjaro for International Women’s Day.

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Founder Singleton said, “It’s hard being the only fat person on the trail. We want to normalize fat hiking so that when people see someone on the trail—especially on a big mountain like Kilimanjaro—they won’t do a double take.” The group is the first adventure of WHOA Plus, a group for adventurous like-bodied women to travel together in a supportive and encouraging group. Interest in WHOA Plus spread like wild-fire. News traveled quickly through online plus-size travel and hiking communities. The trip sold out and even had a waitlist more than a year ahead of the climb.

WHOA Plus makes sure that there is no talk in the group about diet or weight loss. They only encourage getting ready for the adventure in terms of fitness capacity. Singleton revealed that the climb for her wasn’t about reaching the peak of the mountain, it’s about the fact that they even started the climb at all. “It’s about the camaraderie of being with other plus-size women. And about being exceptionally visible in a bigger body. My goal is for everyone to reach their own personal summit, whatever that is on the mountain.” You can follow the Curvy Kili Crew on Facebook and Instagram @CurvyKiliCrew or with the hashtag #CurvyKiliCrew.