MM Collection
Checking in from the Condor's Nest on Illimani, Bolivia. MM Collection
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July 18, 2011

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