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.
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.
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