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Climb For A Cause Kilimanjaro Team Reaches Summit!

Kil­i­man­jaro team reach­es the sum­mit! Olivia Simon­son called in sev­er­al dis­patch­es over the week­end, includ­ing the exclu­sive on their sum­mit day! 

(Pho­tos from pre­vi­ous trips)

Approach­ing the West­ern Breach and Arrow Glac­i­er Camp. David Bates photo

July 15, 2011

We are at 16,000 feet at Arrow Glac­i­er camp. Today was the short­est hike yet. How­ev­er, it allowed us to rest for the long trek to Crater Camp tomor­row. We all made it to camp fine today, and we nev­er for­get to tell our­selves pole pole,” which means slow-slow”. I have to say, one of the coolest things we saw today, even it was just a lit­tle thing, had to have been a frozen stream along the trail, with trick­les of water run­ning under its sur­face. Tomor­row we will have a greater moun­tain sto­ry to tell. Kwaheri!

Arrow Glac­i­er Camp. Jef­frey Dem­mon photo

July 16, 2011

Walk from 16,000 feet at Arrow Glac­i­er to Crater Camp at 18,500 feet. 

Star-filled night on Mt. Kil­i­man­jaro. David Bates photo

The walk from Arrow Glac­i­er to Crater Camp was one of the hard­est things I’ve ever done. The climb up to the crater rim was a 7 hour rock scram­ble up a 2,500 foot near-ver­ti­cal face. It was­n’t even a dif­fi­cult hike. It was beau­ti­ful, actu­al­ly. But it was a com­bi­na­tion of high alti­tude and exhaus­tion that made it so dif­fi­cult. Each step, even when going pole pole,” felt like going a mile. Even being slow, our guides would encour­age us for­ward. They knew when we were frus­trat­ed with our­selves and when we need­ed a hand.

Ascend­ing the West­ern Breach to Crater Camp. Jef­frey Dem­mon photo

High on the West­ern Breach with Mt. Meru in the back­ground. David Bates photo

At the crater rim, when the orange and gray MM tents came into view, and the porters wel­comed us with high fives, a feel­ing of relief and accom­plish­ment rushed through the whole group. When the slow­er of us came into the mess tent, our group applaud­ed us. At that high of alti­tude, even walk­ing to din­ner takes your breath away. Get­ting out of your tent ridicu­lous­ly wind­ed, your rest­ing heart rate is around 100 and talk­ing while hik­ing does­n’t real­ly hap­pen. In fact, one of our group mem­bers was so oxy­gen deprived that he had to go back to the bot­tom. At the crater camp we were sur­round­ed by mas­sive glac­i­ers that almost looked fake. It was a beau­ti­ful reward to such a long day. Tomor­row is a 1 hour hike to the high­est free-stand­ing moun­tain in the world, which I think will give us an even greater feel­ing of accomplishment. 

Aer­i­al view of the crater (camp near ice rem­nant on top of pho­to). MM Collection

July 17, 2011

Today is Sum­mit Day! This morn­ing we sum­mit­ed Mt. Kil­i­man­jaro’s Uhu­ru Peak, the high­est point in Africa. At 6:15 in the morn­ing, after wak­ing up a 3:50 am, as we approached the sum­mit we could see the sun start to rise. It was cold and we could see glac­i­ers every­where. The sign mark­ing the sum­mit was a bea­con telling us what we’d just done. We were hug­ging, as every­one real­ized that we accom­plished what we came here to do. After numer­ous pic­tures, we began our descent.

Fun with the porters! David Bates photo

Walk­ing towards crater camp. David Bates photo

Over sev­er­al hours, we went from 19,340 feet to 10,000 feet. Peo­ple think that the hard­est part of climb­ing moun­tains is the ascent, but the descent is just as hard and takes a dif­fer­ent kind of endurance and mus­cle con­trol. Our guide Ben had warned us the night before that as we descend­ed, we would regain our appetites as well, and boy was he right! At camp when we stopped for lunch, we helped our­selves to some of the best soup and grilled cheese I’ve ever eat­en. Our hik­ing total time today was 4 hours after lunch. It’s lib­er­at­ing to be able to run to the mess tent with­out feel­ing like you’re going to pass out, and get­ting out of your tent with­out feel­ing light head­ed. Tomor­row we leave Kil­i­man­jaro for Safari. Kwa­heri from your friends who sum­mit­ed Mt. Kilimanjaro. 

Crater camp. David Bates photo