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Climbing Kilimanjaro at 70

From Staff Reports (

Article Published: Feb. 14, 2013 | Modified: Feb. 19, 2013
Climbing Kilimanjaro at 70

Dick Wolfe is pictured at the top of Tanzania's Mt. Kilimanjaro, which he climbed in January 2010 at age 70.

Photo submitted

At age 70, Dr. Dick Wolfe embarked on the adventure of a lifetime – climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro.

Wolfe took the journey to the apex of Africa’s tallest mountain in January 2010 and will speak of his travels Feb. 18 at Appalachian State University’s Plemmons Student Union.

Following the presentation, which takes place from 5 to 6:30 p.m. in the union’s Table Rock Room (201-B), Wolfe will sign copies of his book, “Climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro at 70,” and participate in a question-and-answer session.

Wolfe was born in Sophia, W.Va., the son of a coalminer. At 17, while working as a film projectionist, he saw the movie, “The Snows of Kilimanjaro,” and vowed to climb it someday. Fifty-three years later, he fulfilled his dream.

Before then, Wolfe earned his Bachelor of Science degree in chemical engineering from Virginia Tech and his Ph.D. in nuclear engineering from the University of Cincinnati. He later served as director of Appalachian State’s applied science and research program, and he recently patented a process to remove mercury pollutants from coal.

Wolfe now resides in Banner Elk, where he established Banner Elk Winery, featuring a variety of award-winning wines crafted from high-altitude, cold-hardy grapes. Considering himself a “Johnny Grapeseed,” Wolfe has spread the concept of high-altitude viticulture throughout the High Country, having helped establish more than 35 different vineyards.

Wolfe’s book interweaves the story of his climb to Mt. Kilimanjaro with his childhood in a small mining town and his work in viticulture and technology.

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