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Gorge: My Journey Up Kilimanjaro at 300 Pounds
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Gorge: My Journey Up Kilimanjaro at 300 Pounds

3.71  ·  Rating details ·  897 ratings  ·  139 reviews
Kara knew she could reach the summit of Mt. Kilimanjaro. She had done it once before. That’s why, when she failed in a second attempt, it brought her so low. Struggling with a food addiction and looking for ways to cope with feelings of failure and shame, Kara ballooned to 360 pounds. Deep in her personal gorge, Kara realized the only way out was up. She resolved to climb ...more
Paperback, 264 pages
Published April 7th 2015 by Seal Press (first published April 7th 2014)
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Average rating 3.71  · 
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 ·  897 ratings  ·  139 reviews

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Feb 19, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction
A raw story? Try blisteringly raw story. Have you ever sat with someone who had no problem recounting an embarrassing personal story that you would take to your grave had it happened to you? That's what it's like to read Kara Richardson Whitely's book.

I read it because she didn't wait to get to the perfect size before going after what she wanted, which happened to be climbing the largest free-standing mountain in the world. All I want is to wear a shirt without sleeves.

The blurb says she failed
Jun 09, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: memoir, nonfiction
As an overweight hiker, I really connected to this book. Even though I'm about half the size of Kara and don't have her kind of disordered eating/emotional baggage with food, I still experience a lot of what she does as an overweight hiker. I'm often the heaviest person on the trail, and being all geared out and working hard while thin people in flip-flops and skinny jeans bound uphill like puppies brings up a lot of the emotions that Kara details in the book. Just reading about someone who has ...more
Jan 27, 2016 rated it liked it
Someone else described this book in a review as "raw." That's a pretty good word to describe it. This author is certainly brutally honest as she describes her eating and weight issues, her personal problems, her reactions to others around her, and her life. Almost to an embarrassing point. I suppose it is admirable to expose one's thoughts and emotions to this degree, but it made me think of her as whiny and ungrateful. I am trying not to belittle her emotional issues, but I suppose I had a hard ...more
Molly Harty
May 18, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Inspiring and encouraging. I'm a lot like Kara....strong, able and ready to try anything but not always the picture you would expect to see. I've always jokingly called myself "the amazon" to throw off the fact that I'm too tall and too heavy. Loved feeling welcomed into my own head by someone else and having them remind me that I can do anything and I should keep trying and doing until I find the thing that makes me value getting myself happy and healthy without letting a number on a scale take ...more
Mar 01, 2018 rated it liked it
Kara Whitely had made it to the summit of Kilimanjaro once before and had tried and failed a second time. This is the story of her third attempt. I liked the premise of the book, that fitness is not about body shape or weight and that physical challenges can be cathartic and life changing, but I had a hard time liking this book. First, Whitely's problem isn't weight; although I'm no psychologist, she is clearly still traumatized by early experiences and her disordered eating is a symptom of diso ...more
Laila (BigReadingLife)
I actually finished a book while on vacation!

This was really good if you're into memoirs of people struggling with body/weight/food/emotional issues. If you don't like those kinds of books, you might not be too interested in it. Whitely alternates describing her (third) trip up Kilimanjaro with the troubles she experienced with her parents' divorce, her father's absence from her life, and her addiction to food.

My full review over at Big Reading Life:
Carroll Larremore
Apr 17, 2015 rated it did not like it
I see that Cheryl Strayed gave this author a glowing review, but I cannot. I did not like this author...I felt her to be judgemental and indeed lacking introspection. I old wince internally at some of her observations of others as well as be somewhat embarrassesd at her self observations.
Sorry, dear author, you have a lot of fans out there, so you don't need me to be one.
Jul 29, 2015 rated it liked it
Meh. As a fellow fat athlete, I appreciate her story. The book felt a little whiney to me, though.
Jul 08, 2015 rated it did not like it
I have plans to hike Kilimanjaro even though I'm tipping the scales at over 200 pounds. I was REALLY hoping for some inspiration in this book but was slightly disappointed that much of it felt like a pity party. Then again, that's what extreme obesity does to one's self-esteem, right? Despite all that I would still recommend this book, especially to overweight travelers. Adventure can be had by women of all shapes and sizes! ...more
Sarah Knope
May 20, 2015 rated it it was amazing
While I've never been 300 pounds, I really related to this book. The way the author talks about food is so similar to how I've always thought about food. This book is important, especially if you've ever felt out of control of your body and what you consume. ...more
May 03, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Good read but a little slow

I enjoyed reading about the climb, but her personal journey was a little boring. I would like to know more abut the mountain.
Aug 12, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: public-library
This is one of the best memoirs I've read in a while, and the author's inner journey was even more impressive than the more visible one. This is the account of a talented writer who is lovable by every measure, but who found it extremely hard to love herself. The same could easily be said for many of us.

This book focuses on her third trip up Mount Kilimanjaro. She had succeeded the first time, failed the second, and now on this third trek, we are all with her with every grueling step. Kara made
Alexis Nascimento
Aug 29, 2020 rated it it was amazing
There are some memoirs that stick with you for long after setting the book down. Kara Richardson Whitely's account of her journey to the summit of Mt. Kilimanjaro -- at 300 pounds no less -- is one of those reads.

This raw and unflinchingly honest account of one woman's struggles with personal trauma, food addiction and weight gain is incredibly powerful. As Kara hikes to the top of Africa's highest mountain, she reveals what led her to this epic adventure in such a way that you can't help but fe
Jun 07, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: actual-bookshelf
Disclosure statement: I won a signed copy of this book through School of Shine's Bad Ass Book Giveaway, which is much of the reason I read this book so quickly. (Often times, new books join the pile of unread purchases). I'm so glad it hopped to the front of the queue. It's not that I wasn't interested in the story; it's just that I have never considered hiking Kilimanjaro (or at all), nor have I ever jumped too far into “overweight” to be able to relate to her struggle. That is to say I didn't ...more
Thank you to Seal Press for the ARC for me to review. I was really looking forward to reading through Kara’s account of conquering Kilimanjaro as this is a lady that has climbed Kilimanjaro previously, then attempted a second ascent but failed, then was resolved to attempt it for the third time a remarkable lady by any standards especially when you take into account that she climbed Kilimanjaro weighing 300 pounds. A Remarkable achievement.
This is not just primarily an account of climbing Kilima
John Fish
Apr 25, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Thank you to Seal Press for the ARC for me to review. I was really looking forward to reading through Kara’s account of conquering Kilimanjaro as this is a lady that has climbed Kilimanjaro previously, then attempted a second ascent but failed, then was resolved to attempt it for the third time a remarkable lady by any standards especially when you take into account that she climbed Kilimanjaro weighing 300 pounds. A Remarkable achievement.
This is not just primarily an account of climbing Kilima
Nov 28, 2014 rated it really liked it
My short review would be I LOVED THIS BOOK.

I wasn't sure what to expect when I started this one but I was captivated by the blurb and wanted to know more.

Sure, I can honestly say that I have never had any burning desire to hike up the Kilmanjaro but I was fascinated by the premise that a woman weighing 300 lbs could do it (or even wanted to do it).

What followed was an absolutely amazing and inspiring story of Kara who faced both her body issues and her fears about what lay ahead on her journey.

I read this right before reading the author's book about her first trip up Kilimanjaro, which was an interesting way to do it.

The author explores her personal history and trauma and doesn't shy away from sharing embarrassing details about herself. Unfortunately you can almost feel the sense of self-disgust coming through.

The story about attempting something remarkable while not at your peak of fitness (and after having failed) is a really important one, and one that I think a lot of people can
Aug 28, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This author is an excellent writer. I am looking forward to her next book.
She creates an immediate connection with her struggling self and shows us a woman who is both believable and admirable. I think she describes her difficulty with food and body image in an accurate and sensitive manner. If its difficult for readers to connect to those descriptions perhaps that's because we're not used to learning about what an eating disorder feels like from the inside out. The days of secrecy about eating
Aug 10, 2015 rated it really liked it
This book had been on my list for awhile when I happened to see that my local REI store was hosting the author for a talk. SOLD. It's no secret that Cheryl Strayed has changed my life, and when I saw her review on the cover of this book I knew it was going to be good.

Kara's story is beautifully written and honest and raw and real in the way that all good memoirs should be. I found her to be incredibly easy to relate to--I think anyone who has ever had even the tiniest struggle with body image a
Mar 30, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016
I dearly loved parts of this book. Also being a fat girl hiking, I could relate (although I haven't been in years). What kept me from giving it a five was a better editor. While memoirs are tricky, as an editor, the editor has to be strong. Trust that the reader gets it. This phrase was the mantra for the book: "After all, I was hiking the mountain for myself, but also for AIDS orphans." Kara is very admirable and I highlighted this paragraph as it resonated with me: "The thing about having an e ...more
Suzan Bond
Jan 17, 2015 rated it really liked it
This is such a beautiful and tough story about a woman triumphing over her demons. No, the book didn't end with a 100 pound weight loss but that's what's great about it. The author's story is solid because it's exactly like real life. To create change, you simply keep plodding forward toward your goal. I applaud the author for sharing all the shameful secrets she had and in such an open, raw way. The book could use some editing as it stands but I read an early NetGalley version so I assume editi ...more
Sep 15, 2017 rated it liked it
I didn't love it. I'm glad I read it and may consider reading something else by the author. I'm in awe of her accomplishments and appreciate her unfathomable vulnerability in chronicling her journey. I just didn't enjoy her writing and I didn't bond with her as a person. I can't put my finger on precisely what kept me from thoroughly enjoying the book. I finished it and am glad I did. But I wasn't left satisfied, which is so interesting as being full is a major theme in the book. ...more
Dec 05, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
I read Kara's first book after hearing her speak at a women's leadership luncheon. I knew Kara when she was a newspaper reporter but had never met her. Fat Woman on the Mountain was a very good book, big Gorge was even better. She is truly an inspiration to all women. ...more
Jan 12, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I hate this word as feel it is used far too much but What an Inspiration this lady is. To climb all that way and still be breathing at the end , you go girl. I had no idea what to think about this book but I am so pleased I picked it up and read it
Lisa K
May 04, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I love this story. It is so raw, so real, and so inspiring. I highly recommend this book for anyone wanting to climb Kili and especially for anyone who is struggling to scale their own mountain whether literally or figuratively. Thank you, Kara, for sharing your journey with the world.
Ashley Allard
Jun 17, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Fantastic story about a woman overcoming the Kilimanjaro mountain at 300 pounds. I felt like I was there with her each step of the way in spirit. Reading her journey brought me joy. And I am glad she wrote this and shared it with us.
Nov 24, 2017 rated it it was ok
Book Challenge Category: A Travel Memoir

This book has the potential to be inspiring-- meeting the challenge of the mountain, overcoming obstacles and conquering goals. However, I found the self-loathing in the book to be tiresome. I wanted to like the book more than I did.
Feb 20, 2018 rated it liked it
Easy read, very relatable author. It’s eerie how she can explain the thoughts running through her head before, during, after her binges. The book ended a bit abruptly for my liking. Seems the author was well-connected and affluent although she often wrote of unemployment.
Jun 09, 2018 rated it liked it
Loved the hiking story. I appreciated the description of her struggles and triumphs as an overweight hiker (and overweight woman in general), as well as delving into her past. For me, the book spent just a little too much time on the guilt and self loathing.
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