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Kilimanjaro: Climb for the Cause reflections

Some of you may have been fol­low­ing the won­der­ful dis­patch­es from Kil­i­man­jaro as Olivia Simon­son called in on the sat phone near­ly every day with an update of their group’s progress. Olivia and her father Clif climbed Kil­i­man­jaro with Moun­tain Mad­ness in June and used their adven­ture to help raise mon­ey for their non-prof­it orga­ni­za­tion Climb For The Cause. (They are less than $1,500 away from their $100,000 goal!) Now that the group has reen­tered real­i­ty and goes about their dai­ly rou­tine, Olivia reflects on the won­der­ful trip that she shared with 17 oth­er climbers on their jour­ney to the roof of Africa.

Olivia and Dean call­ing the MM office with a dis­patch. Clif Simon­son photo

Reflect­ing back on my trip to Kil­i­man­jaro I can’t help but smile. The trip was, with­out a doubt, one that I will nev­er for­get. Although the expe­ri­ence had its high times and its low times noth­ing can top the peo­ple, the sights or the feel­ing I had on the sum­mit. Its almost hard to explain how you feel about Kil­i­man­jaro because dur­ing the climb you feel so many dif­fer­ent things at once. You feel wind­ed, but you can’t help but to be curi­ous about what’s around you. You feel sick, but you can’t help but to mar­vel at the glac­i­er tow­er­ing over you. It all feels so sur­re­al. The whole time I could­n’t believe that I was actu­al­ly there. I had antic­i­pat­ed the trip so much that by the time I got there it exceed­ed my hopes and expectations.

Mess tent. Clif Simon­son photo

The West­ern Breach as seen from the Shi­ra Plateau. Clif Simon­son photo

Olivia and Clif Simon­son. Clif Simon­son photo

Camp on the plateau. Clif Simon­son photo

The crew we had help­ing us was ter­rif­ic. Every­day I felt like I owed my porter my soul for help­ing me with my gaiters and boots when I was feel­ing so tired. The fun we had as a group out­weighed any sore­ness or exhaus­tion that we expe­ri­enced. I feel like if we would have had a dif­fer­ent group of peo­ple the trip would­n’t have been as great as it was. But I must say; my toes are STILL numb from that long down­hill after sum­mit day.

Friend­ly porters. Clif Simon­son photo

Climb­ing up the Breach to Crater Camp. Clif Simon­son photo

Up the Breach. Clif Simon­son photo

It was a trek, there is no deny­ing that, but the more patient I was about climb­ing the faster that sum­mit day arrived. On our first day it felt like glo­ry was a mil­lion miles away but, as time passed and the topog­ra­phy changed, our legs brought us up high­er and high­er and it sud­den­ly dawned on me that this was going to hap­pen. And when I did reach the top, I reached the glo­ry that was pack­aged with it. I will nev­er for­get that day the smiles on every­ones faces, the cheer­ing, or the beau­ty that sur­round­ed us.

Crater, with Mt. Meru in the back­ground. Clif Simon­son photo

Crater camp- just a short hike to the sum­mit from here! Clif Simon­son photo

Glac­i­er rem­nants. Clif Simon­son photo

The only word to describe that moment on the sum­mit is AWE­SOME, or at least that’s the sim­plest way to put it.

Yahoo! Clif Simon­son photo

Climb for the Cause ban­ner- con­grats on the fundrais­ing effort! Clif Simon­son photo

When we left the moun­tain two days lat­er, we stood in camp and our crew sang us the Kil­i­man­jaro song. I could­n’t help but to tear up. Our lead guide Ben had always told us that we were a fam­i­ly but it was­n’t until that moment that I real­ly felt like I was part­ing with my new­found fam­i­ly. That these peo­ple, porters and fel­low climbers alike, who had seen me at my worst and at my best, were about to part ways with me.

On the way to safari. Clif Simon­son photo

Hang­ing out with local Masaai. Clif Simon­son photo

Local girls dressed up in their fin­ery. Clif Simon­son photo

I think I left Tan­za­nia and Kil­i­man­jaro a changed per­son. It gave me a new per­spec­tive on life, a new idea of what I could achieve and insight into how it feels to con­quer some­thing I had only ever dreamed about. The time I spent on Kili is time that I will nev­er for­get. Ever.

Thank you to Moun­tain Mad­ness for mak­ing this trip happen.


~ Olivia Simonson

The lion king. Clif Simon­son photo

Clif Simon­son photo

Clif Simon­son photo