We spent the majority of last week climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro for our Hike 4 Healthcarefundraiser. This week we will try our best to describe the climb and share our experience of Mt. Kilimanjaro. We will continue our stories on how the Pro-Mot Healthcare program will benefit Joyce, a child with disabilities who is served by BCC, in the “Through Their Eyes” section this week. In the “Inspirational Tid-Bits” section we will share a few videos from our climb. Due to the difficulty of emailing videos from Tanzania we have sent them home with Megan from Mosaic. Because of this, the “Inspirational Tid-Bits” section may be posted a little later than usual.
We began our ascent of Mt. Kilimanjaro (the tallest mountain in Africa and the tallest free-standing mountain in the world) with our safari driver friend, Jesse, on Sunday last week. We met our guide, Abu, our assistant guide, Sudi, our cook, Adam, along with our 5 porters in the center of Moshi. We all traveled to the base camp together in a daladala. See photo below.
Rich and Barb, along with Megan and Joe from Mosaic, came to document the beginning of our climb. We registered and were ready to start climbing at around 11:00 am.
The first day of hiking was pretty simple. Base camp starts at an elevation of approximately 1800 meters, or 5900 feet. We hiked through a thick forest trail for about 6 miles to the first campsite. It was a beautiful hike that included waterfalls, mountain streams, and monkeys. The first campsite is at an elevation of 2700 meters, or about 8900 feet. The hike took us approximately 3 hours and it was not that physically demanding. It started raining gently about halfway through the hike and turned to heavy rain and hail as we approached the campsite. The rain eventually stopped and we had a very pleasant stay!
The next day, we started our climb at around 7:30 am. The second camp was about 7 miles away and at an elevation of about 3740 meters, or 12,270 feet. This climb was also through a forest area, but as we hiked the scenery gradually changed to what is called the moorlands. This area consisted of bushes that were about 5-7 feet high, small plants, and many loose rocks. The climb was took us about 4½ hours. This climb was also not very physically demanding, but as we approached the campsite it started to rain and hail again.
This time the rain did not stop. It rained all night and throughout the next day. The third day we started our climb at around 7:00 am and climbed to the summit camp, where we would leave to make our final ascent to the peak of Kilimanjaro. The camp is located at an elevation of about 4780 meters, or 15,680 feet. The climb this day was fairly difficult, not because of the climb, but because the rain turned to sleet and then to snow as we ascended. We climbed between the two major peaks of Mt. Kilimanjaro in what is known as the saddle. It was very windy and very cold in this section of the climb.
We arrived to the summit camp at around 1:00 or 1:30 pm. As soon as we arrived, the crew made lunch for us. We finished lunch at around 2:00 pm and we were told to go to bed. We asked why and our guide, Abu, explained that we would begin our ascent toward the peak of Kilimanjaro at 11:30 pm that night. We went to bed and woke up at 5:30 pm for dinner. We went to bed again and slept until around 10:30 pm. That is when we woke up and started preparing for our final ascent.
The mountain was very snowy as we began our climb. The wind was blowing steadily and a full moon was lighting the mountain. The climb was very steep and, though the distance to the rim of the crater was around 4 miles away, it took most of the night to make it to the top. The initial ascension point is called Gillman’s Point and it is located at about 5600 meters, or 18370 feet. We reached this point at around 5:15 am. Mt. Kilimanjaro is a dormant volcano, and the highest point, Uhuru Peak, is about a 1 – 2 hour hike around the rim of the crater. As we walked around the rim of Mt. Kilimanjaro we saw the sun rise over Tanzania. We felt like we could see forever. Below is a picture of the sunrise over Mawenzi Peak, another, not as tall peak of Mt. Kilimanjaro.
We arrived at Uhuru Peak at around 7:20 am. The peak is at a height of 5895 meters, or 19635 feet. We had finally made it and we were all breathing heavy, cold, and proud. All three of us had made it!!! You can see us with one of our guides and our friend Jesse at Uhuru Peak in the photo below.
We had enough time to take a few pictures, and then we had to start our decent. Our guides told us that it is dangerous to stay at that high of an altitude for an extended period of time, but we managed to snap a few photos of the mountain and the glaciers.
We arrived back at the summit camp at around 10:30 am. We took a quick nap, ate lunch, and then descended to the place we stayed on day three. We arrived at the camp at around 5:00 pm. It had been an incredibly long, but successful day! After 15 hours of hiking Wednesday, March 7, we ate dinner and went to bed at 7:00 pm.
We woke up at 6:00 am to make our final decent. It was a 12.4 mile hike (approximately the distance of a half marathon) and we were all very tired. We made it to base camp at around 2:00 pm. We were greeted by Rich at the gate. We were so happy to see him and to be done with the climb! It had been a long, but very successful, 5 days. Below is a photo of us exiting the gate.
Not everyone who begins the ascent of Mt. Kilimanjaro makes it to the top. Our guides said that the success rate of making it to Uhuru Peak is approximately 50%, and the rate is lower in the snow and in a storm, like we experienced. We are so happy that all 3 of us made it to the top! We saw many groups turn around and head back due to exhaustion or altitude sickness. Upon the completion of the climb we were presented with a certificate of completion.
Rich and Barb, our bosses at Mosaic, were so proud of us! They threw a celebratory dinner in our honor at an Indian restaurant. There are only two certificates because Jesse left his at home. Also, Jesse brought his adorable son, Isaac, to the dinner and we thought he needed to be in the picture, too. As you can tell, all of us got a bit sun and wind burned from the journey! All of us will frame our certificates and proudly display them!
Funds for the Pro-Mot Healthcare program are still rolling in (as you can see by the smiley faces on the right)! It is not too late to donate! If you are still interested in donating to the Hike 4 Healthcare, please contact Megan firstname.lastname@example.org.