8 days. 42 miles. 19,340 ft. (WE MADE IT!)

We could probably write a novel about our experience, but we’ll try to hit all the highlights of the trip. If you don’t have time to read our entire post, here is the take away: We all made it to the summit and had an incredible experience 🙂

There were 14 crew for the 3 of us climbers. It was pretty incredible how much the porters were able to carry up the mountain and how helpful everyone was. We give all the credit of our summit success to our wonderful guides and the hard-working porters who carried our gear up the mountain. We truly couldn’t have done it without them. The basic schedule we followed during our 8 days included waking up around 6:30am, packing up our sleeping pads/bags and all other gear in the tent and eating breakfast around 7:30, which consisted of porridge, eggs, toast, sausage, and fresh fruit. We left to hike around 8 or 8:30am and usually arrived at camp around 2pm. If it was a longer day, we would bring a packed lunch, and if it was a shorter day, we would have a warm lunch waiting for us when we arrived at camp. The food was incredible! We were all impressed with what the chef was able to whip up on the mountain. After arriving at camp, we would usually have some down time before dinner. We napped if we could, or played an intense game of cards 🙂 We had tea/coffee/hot chocolate around 5pm and ate dinner around 6pm. Dinner usually consisted of rice with a vegetable sauce and soup. After dinner, our guide would complete a health check for the three of us. He checked our oxygen levels and heart rate using a finger monitor and asked if we were experiencing any of the symptoms of altitude sickness, like dizziness or nausea. All three of us were very lucky to experience little to no symptoms of altitude sickness for the majority of the climb (summit day was a bit different). After our health check we would usually retire to our tents and fall asleep around 8pm.  The nights were very cold on the mountain, especially as we gained elevation. Here’s a summary of our hikes leading up to summit day.

August 13th. Day 1: Left Lemosho gate after lunch and hiked 4 hours through the rainforest to the first camp at Big Tree.

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Beginning of Lemosho Route

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Made some friends starting the Lemosho Route, too

August 14th. Day 2: Hiked 6 hours out of the rainforest and camped at Shira One.

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Hiking through the rainforest

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Shira One Camp

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August 15th. Day 3: Hiked 2 hours through the Shira Cathedral to the Shira Summit and then 2 hours to Shira Two.

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Shira Cathedral

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Hiking up to Shira Summit

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DSCN0426DSCN0427  DSCN0429DSCN0433 Hiking to Shira Two camp

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DSCN0437DSCN0439DSCN0440DSCN0441 Shira Two camp above the clouds

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August 16th. Day 4: Hiked to 3 hours to Lava Tower (15,190ft) then 1.5hrs to Barranco Camp.

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Arriving at Barranco Camp

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August 17th. Day 5: Hiked the Barranco Wall (Breakfast Wall) in the morning. This section of the climb was the most technical and required scrambling on our hands and feet up the rock face. Continued about 3 hours down into Karanga Camp. This was the last camp with water supply. Our porters carried water up to the next camp in advance for us.

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Sunrising at Camp Barranco

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Heading toward the Barranco Wall

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Part of the Barranco Wall climb

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View from the top of the Barranco Wall

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August 18th. Day 6: Short morning hike to reach Barafu Base Camp. After lunch, we tried to sleep the rest of the day because we would be starting our ascent to the summit at midnight.

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Barafu Base Camp ‘Barafu’ means cold!

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Sunset at Base Camp

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Summit Day: We woke up around 11pm and had tea in preparation for our midnight climb. At this point, we were tired, excited, and maybe slightly anxious. But, we kept positive thoughts (or tried to) as we gathered our gear and turned on our headlights. Around 12:10am, we began our 6-7 hour summit climb to Uhuru Peak. The first hour wasn’t so bad, but the hours after that blurred together in a mixture of freezing temps and low oxygen. Despite the elements (and with the help of our wonderful guides) we reached Stella Point around 5am. The trail leading up to Stella Point is the steepest part of the summit, so after we reached here, we felt pretty good. We stopped for warm tea brought by Salim (one of our porters). From Stella Point, we had about an hour to the summit. The rest of the trail was not as steep, although still inclined enough to make it an exceptional challenge. It took just about everything we had, but we were able to reach the summit of Uhuru Peak at 6:10am. We were the second group to summit that day. It was a euphoric moment and one we were all glad to be able to share with each other.  The views were incredible.

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Tea time before leaving Base Camp at midnight

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First glimpse of the sun

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View of the glacier at the top of Uhuru Peak

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Uhuru (means freedom) Peak 19,341 ft. 5,895m. Time of summit: 6:10am

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Starting the descent

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First view of base camp after summit

August 19th: After arriving back at base camp, we were able to rest for a couple hours, but then needed to descend to lower altitude. We took the Mweka Route as our descent trail. After our night summit and trek back down to base camp, the 4 hour descent to Mweka Camp was a struggle. We were tired and desperately wanted to sleep, but we continued on until we reached Mweka Camp around 3:00pm. That night after dinner, the porters and guides surprised us with a “Congratulations” cake. The cook made this cake at the camp, which was so impressive. They sang to us and we all shared the delicious celebratory dessert. It was so exciting! Shortly after, we went to our tents to get some well-needed sleep.

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August 20th: Our last day on the mountain! We woke up around 7am and started our last descent day around 8am. Before we left, the porters and guides sang us the Kilimanjaro Song and we were able to thank them for all they had done for us over the last 8 days. The last day’s hike was through the beautiful rainforest. We were able to get one last view of the peak we summited the day before. Around 10:30am, we reached to end of the Mweka decent trail and were greeted with lunch and music. We picked up our summit certificates and enjoyed a Kilimanjaro beer. The saying is “If you can’t climb it, drink it!” Fortunately, we were able to do both 🙂

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Last day’s hike through the rainforest

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Last view of Kibo Peak

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The end of the Mweka Route and first view of civilization

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“If you can’t climb it, drink it”

We drove out of Kilimanjaro National Park and back to the office of our mountain outfitter (Moshi Expeditions and Mountaineering), we distributed the gear we brought for the porters who were so thankful and said our final good-byes. It was a bittersweet moment leaving our hard-working crew that we had been with for the past week, but knowing we were within minutes of a shower was very exciting 🙂 We returned to our first hotel at Sal Salinero in Moshi to spend our last night in Tanzania.

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Handing out boots to the porters

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Sal Salinero Hotel

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Overall, this experience was an incredible journey. We had such an amazing time climbing and summiting Mt. Kilimanjaro and also getting to know the wonderful people we were surrounded by. Not only our crew of porters and guides, but also the other climbers we met along the trail.

Thank you to everyone who kept us in thoughts and prayers over the last week; we definitely felt the support from our friends and family back home. We’d also like to thank Vision for the Poor/Climb for Sight for making this experience a reality and to everyone who donated to support the cause of our climb.

We wish everyone the peace and happiness we found on Mt. Kilimanjaro.

Asante na kuaga! Thank you and farewell! 🙂

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Nate’s Birthday and Safari


  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  

 Jambo! Greetings from Tanzania!

We finally have wifi that is decent enough to to let us post. And there is so much to tell! We arrived around 2pm on Monday, August 10th, which just so happened to be Nate’s birthday! We were looking forward to celebrating later but, first, had to make it through the visa and customs ordeal at the aiport. Exhausted and delirious, we stood in line to get our visa and collect our luggage. Everything went very smoothly until we had to go through customs. Apparently they didn’t like the idea of bringing 11 pairs of boots in a brown box (the boots we were donating to the porters). To make a long story short, we ended up having to pay a tax for the boots to enter the country. The man in charge seemed a little too satisfied after the event, but overall we agreed it could have gone a lot worse.
From the airport, our driver took us about 45min away to the city of Moshi where we would be staying at the Sal Salinero Hotel. The hotel was wonderful. We headed for a late dinner to celebrate Nate’s birthday. Our waiter was so friendly and brought Nate not one, but two surprise desserts. The first was popcorn with “pipi” (a local buttermilk candy). Now, we were all a bit sleep deprived and delusional at this point, but we couldn’t stop laughing at this dish. The second suprise dessert was pinnaple layered with icecream. Needless to say, our waiter went out of his way to make Nate’s 20th memorable. Happy Birthday, Nate!

We headed to bed early, as we had to leave for our Safari at 7am. Breakfast at the hotel was delicious and we tried many new things. We left for the safari in our Hella Hella mobile and drove 3.5 hrs to Lake Manyara. Our safari guide and driver was Gilbert who was so nice and very informative. Even though our drive to the lake was long, we were able see the rural villages in Tanzania and witness the actual living environment, not just the touristy areas. We saw corn (maize), finger millet, rice, and coffee bean fields. We also learned about things from banana beer to Masai (a Tanzanian cattle-herding tribe).

We arrived at Lake Manyara at 11am and spent the rest of the day driving around the park in our safari caravan. The top of the car lifted up and we were able to stand. It was awesome. We saw sliver and blue monkeys, elephants, baboons, many birds, zebras, wildabeasts, and hippos. It was beautiful and such an amazing experience!

Around dinner we drove to the Ngorongoro Crater rim where we spend the night at Ngorongoro Serena Lodge, which was the most beautiful hotel we’d ever seen. The lodge was mainly outside and featured big ceilings with wooden porches that over looked the crater.  We were greeted with a warm towel and passion fruit juice, which was so appreciated after a long day in the car. We ate dinner at lodge (which was delicious, obviously) and afterward sat around the lodge’s fire place. We met some very interesting people, Kevin from New York and a family from Dubai. Everyone was very friendly.

The next day woke up early and ate breakfast at the lodge (delicious) and then met Gilbert to begin our crater drive. We started around 7am and within seconds of leaving the hotel encountered an elephant, feet from our car. This was a pretty good indication that was going to be an epic day. The crater was beautiful. With blue hazy mountains contrasting the brown grassy brush, it was a breathtaking scene and such a peaceful place. We were able to see all of the “Big 5” animals including lions, elephant, (brief glimpse) of a leopard, buffalo, and rhino. We also saw hyenas, jackals, zebras, warthogs, and many other little animals. Gilbert was really good at finding things and helping us get up as close as we could. The crater is really neat because it is solely the animals wild habit. No one maintains the populations and there is not a touch of human interference (other than the safari cars driving along the path). But, the cars don’t bother the animals. We were truly able to observe WILDlife.

After the 7 he crater drive, we headed back to our hotel in Moshi (the one we stayed in the first night). We said goodbye to Gilbert (sadly) and just finished a nice dinner. Some might call it the last supper, as we begin our climb tomorrow!! We are so excited, if not slightly (?) nervous.

So, we probably won’t be able to post until we are back from our climb! Please keep us in your thoughts and prayers over the next 8 days.

And we wish everyone back home the peace and happiness we’ve found here in Tanzania.

Onward!!

4:15am Check-in @ CLE

  
We hope we remembered everything!

  Box full of donated boots for the porters  

 First leg of the flight! 
Sunrise over DC

Our 6am flight meant a pretty early morning at the Cleveland Hopkins airport. Awaking at 3:30am was a struggle, but we are so excited to begin our adventure! We’re traveling with extra luggage full of mountain equipment donated through REI to give to the native porters in Tanzania. We’ve heard from past climbers that they are in need of quality equipment, so we are looking forward to giving it to them upon arrival!!

We’re posting this from Washington Dulles airport where we are waiting to board our next flight to Ethiopia (13 hours!!!!!!). From there, we will continue to our final destination in Tanzania. So, this is our last stop in the states! We will keep up with this site as much as possible throughout our trip. Thanks to everyone for your thoughts and prayers during our journey!

Onward!!