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Everest with Mountain Madness

Climb For The Cause Dispatches From Kilimanjaro

Clif and Olivia Simon­son, wid­ow and daugh­ter of Andrea Grace Sot­er-Simon­son, pledged to raise mon­ey by climb­ing Kil­i­man­jaro as a way of rep­re­sent­ing all of those fam­i­lies climb­ing their own Kil­i­man­jaro” as they bat­tle with the phys­i­cal and emo­tion­al bur­dens of can­cer. The Climb For The Cause foun­da­tion raised near­ly $90,000 before they joined Moun­tain Mad­ness on their Kil­i­man­jaro climb last week. We were hap­py to send them with a satel­lite phone so we could hear about their progress along the way. Check out the first sev­er­al dis­patch­es from the mountain:

(All pho­tos from pre­vi­ous trips)

Hik­ing in Arusha Nation­al Park before the climb. MM Collection

July 10, 2011

From the Arusha Nation­al Park, Itikoni camp site- Olivia, Paul, Mary, Isabel­la and Dylan.

Isabel­la is the youngest girl that our guide, Ben Mal­i­ty, has ever tak­en up the moun­tain. There are 18 peo­ple total in our group from all over the Unit­ed States, as well as the world. Yes­ter­day, July 9th, we were all met by our guides at the air­port. Fol­low­ing our arrival after an 8 hour plane ride from Ams­ter­dam we took a 1‑hour rocky, dusty, bumpy car ride on the wrong side of the road! Com­ing into camp many of us were wear­ing shorts, flip flops, and t‑shirts in unex­pect­ed freez­ing weather.

Pri­vate Lux­u­ry Camp in Arusha Nation­al Park. MM Collection

Fine din­ing, the Mad­ness style. MM Collection

Once we fin­ished an amaz­ing din­ner (all of our meals have been absolute­ly deli­cious) we were assigned our tents. They were lux­u­ri­ous, com­plete with beds, a show­er and a toi­let. Every­one was jet lagged but hap­py to be in this place we had all been dying to see. The next day, Ben briefed on the adven­ture ahead and we learned some Swahili.

Jam­bo= hel­lo
Jam­ba= fart
Mam­bo= whats up?

On the dri­ve to the trail­head. David Bates photo

Around 2:00 we went on a short hike to two water­falls and took pic­tures of mon­keys, a giraffe and a mass of ants. Dylan was dared by Ben to wres­tle a water buf­fa­lo, but was beat by Paul who already had him tamed… not real­ly. After the hike those of us who want­ed it took the world’s best hot buck­et show­er. Lat­er, we had fam­i­ly bond­ing” over pop­corn and cards in our own lounge. We have all had a won­der­ful time in just the past two days and are excit­ed for what lies ahead.

Kwa­heri! (bye!)


Hik­ing in on day one. MM Collection

July 11, 2011

This is Olivia and Paul dis­patch­ing from yes­ter­day, July 11, from For­est Camp at 9,000 feet. Today was our first day on the moun­tain. We drove 4 hours, on what our whole group would agree was the rough­est car ride on the most uneven roads we have ever expe­ri­enced. It was fan­tas­tic! We drove through sev­er­al vil­lages and in all of them we saw chil­dren, men and women in their dai­ly rou­tine work­ing with live­stock in the fields. It was such a fan­tas­tic sight to see the way these peo­ple live and how dif­fer­ent it was from our own.

Wildlife keep­ing a watch­ful eye on the group. David Bates photo

Part of the friend­ly crew. Shane Che­lone photo

A giraffe walked in front of our car and we saw baboons on the side of the road. When we got to the moun­tain, we met our porters and walked an hour and a half to lunch, which we ate at about 8,000 feet in the for­est. We then hiked to For­est Camp at 9,000 feet where we now reside. At din­ner, every­one was talk­ing about the amaz­ing porters. While we were huff­ing and puff­ing up the hill, they were run­ning past us car­ry­ing loads twice our weight on their heads. Break­fast, lunch, and din­ner, as always, was deli­cious beyond all means. I am pret­ty con­vinced that we’ll be miche­lin men by the end of this trip. Until tomorrow!

Camp on the first night. MM Collection

Arriv­ing to camp, already set up and sleep­ing bags rolled out! David Bates photo

July 12, 2011

This is Olivia and Paul, our sec­ond dis­patch, on July 12 on Mount Kil­i­man­jaro. We’re at Shi­ra Camp at 11,000 feet. Today is our first full day of camp­ing on the moun­tain. We were wok­en up this morn­ing at 6 for break­fast with hot water. We hiked for 7 hours with lunch in between. We hiked from 9,000 feet to 11,000 feet. In two days we’ve gone from sub-trop­i­cal through diverse mon­tane for­est and now we are in the giant heather zone, a scene straight out of a Dr. Seuss book. We have a great view of the moun­tain from our camp, and tomor­row we begin our ascent of the moun­tain. We’ve had a great time, our whole group has real­ly bond­ed and we’re get­ting along very well. And we’re real­ly dirty, every­thing’s cov­ered in dirt and we’re feel­ing great! The porters have been amaz­ing the whole way. We’ll talk to you tomorrow!

Enter­ing the giant heather zone. David Bates photo

Mess tent on the climb. David Bates photo

July 13, 2011

This is Olivia call­ing from Moir Camp at an ele­va­tion of 13,600 feet. We’re all real­ly start­ing to feel the alti­tude! It was our sec­ond day on the moun­tain, and dur­ing the whole hike, Kil­i­man­jaro was tow­er­ing over us. There were these cool plants that bloomed dur­ing the day when the sun was out and closed at night. There was an amaz­ing rock over­hang that we took pic­tures at. It’s those things along the trails that make us want to keep going.

Get­ting into camp is usu­al­ly the best part of the day, and on our down time we like to play cards with the porters and eat pop­corn. Although some peo­ple in our group are major ath­letes, they have noth­ing against the alti­tude, which is the dark horse in this whole expe­ri­ence. Although we are high on the moun­tain, we still have high­er to go. Kwa heri! (Bye!)

Cards with the porters. David Bates photo