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January 18, 2012 2:55 PM

Porters are unheralded heroes of Africa's Mt. Kilimanjaro

Up from the equatorial plains they climb, into a dripping rain forest, through a shrub-riddled wasteland and across a desolate alpine desert before finally making a nighttime trudge up the lonely ice-capped crater that's Africa's tallest peak. Every year, some 50,000 or so adventurous foreigners brave the oxygen-starved air atop Mount Kilimanjaro for the stunning dawn view of the hazy shapes and shadows from which they emerged just days before. The tourists, however, aren't the only ones who make the journey.

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