Mount Kilimanjaro climb to aid Toronto hospital

Dr. Howard Ovens, director of the Schwartz-Reisman Emergency Centre of Mount Sinai Hospital, left, and David Cynamon, chair of Summit for Sinai and executive chair of K2Pure Solutions [Annie Tong photo]

TORONTO — Thirteen fundraisers will climb Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa’s highest mountain peak, on Sept. 4, as part of Mount Sinai Hospital’s new initiative, Summit for Sinai.

The summit of Kili, as it is known, is at 5,895 metres or 19,340 feet. Each “peak performer” will climb for an area of care at the hospital.

The initiative is the brainchild of Mark Gryfe, president of Mount Sinai Hospital Foundation, and David Cynamon, executive chair of K2Pure Solutions and chair of Summit for Sinai.

 “The broad range of individuals who were selected to participate needed to meet the goal of raising a significant amount of money and have the determination and passion to withstand the elements associated with the climb. From the base to the peak, there will be major fluctuations in weather and terrain,” Cynamon said.

The goal is to net $1 million total for the hospital as a team effort.

Kilimanjaro is one of the largest volcanoes in the world with three main volcanic peaks: Kibo, Mawenzi and Shira. The dormant volcano is located in north-eastern Tanzania, near the border of Kenya. Although the mountain is at three degrees south of the equator, an ice cap covers the crater of Kibo year-round.

There are inherent risks in any mountaineering trip. Reaching the top of Kilimanjaro involves negotiating technically difficult terrain and the need to watch each other closely for the effects of oxygen deprivation with the high altitude.

Climber Corey Mandell, president of Mandell Entertainment Group and owner and director of Camp Timberlane, said that “altitude sickness is the x-factor.  Altitude sickness affects everyone differently, and there really is no way of knowing how your body will react.”

The 13 Summit for Sinai climbers are David Cynamon, Derek Frankfort, Gary Goldman, Jonathan Goldman, Zak Goldman, Evan Green, Corey Mandell, Jamie Salter, David Morrison, Robert Morrison, Mark Nashman, Richard Pilosof and Ronnie Tal. 

They will fundraise for areas at the hospital including the Schwartz-Reisman Emergency Centre, the Highest Priority Needs department, the Avery Goldman Special Fund for the neonatal intensive care unit, the thyroid cancer initiative, cancer research, women’s and infants’ heath, the neonatal intensive care unit and diabetes research.

Two doctors from Mount Sinai Hospital, Dr. Howard Ovens, director of the Schwartz-Reisman Emergency Centre, and Dr. Bjug Borgundvaag, an emergency physician, will also climb Kilimanjaro as part of the team, to support the climb medically.

Climber Zak Goldman, a partner in the Sterling Park Financial Group, is raising money in memory of his son, Avery.

“The team is making a very large commitment to go and climb a mountain for 10 days, and I think when people hear about that level of dedication, they will step up to donate,” Zak Goldman said.

 “Climber Jamie Salter, CEO of Authentic Brands Group, lost his brother to cancer, and I, too, have lost family members to cancer, so we are raising money for cancer research at Mount Sinai,” Mandell said.

There are six official trekking routes up Kilimanjaro. The one the Sinai climbers will use is the Machame route – it’s considered steep but manageable, and the most scenic. It will take seven days to reach the Uhuru Peak – the highest point in Africa. The group will be travelling with the Adventure Consultant’s International Expedition Guiding Team.

“Once I reach the top, I intend on being the first person in the world to lay tfillin at the summit of Kilimanjaro,” Mandell promised.

The Machame route winds around the skirt of the mountain, slowly gaining altitude and giving the climbers glimpses of the entire south side of the peak. The climbers will go through various climate zones every day, each with unique and different views and highlights.

Climber Derek Frankfort, general manager of Home Lumber Inc., said, “It is the adventure, the physical challenge, the exotic location and being in one of the seven summits of the world that lured me in. However, the crux of the fundraising initiative is to raise money for the hospital, and that just pulled it all together for me.”

Sponsors will have an opportunity to log in and view their climber daily via webcam.

For more information or to donate, please go to