Day Seven: Back in Arusha
Our climbers are all safely back in Arusha! The hikers arrived at the Kilimanjaro Gate to cheers, hugs, and a cooler filled with cold beer and Coca-Colas. They also said goodbye to their stellar guides from Kandoo Adventures and thanked them for all of their guidance up, and down, the mountain. These amazing guides have been with the climbers, quite literally, every step of the way.
Everyone is looking forward to a final dinner together this evening, sharing Kili stories while dining al fresco, before an early bedtime (and we’re guessing the best sleep they’ll have had in a solid week). Tomorrow is NTD Learning Day, and everyone will head to the Monduli District to see first-hand the amazing work fighting NTDs that the climbers’ efforts and outreach have helped to support.
Huge thanks to everyone who followed along and served as such a source of strength and encouragement for our remarkable team of 16!
Day Six: Summiting Mt. Kilimanjaro
As we shared yesterday, around 11:30pm last night, the climbers started their trek to the summit between the Rebman and Ratzel Glaciers. They headed in a north-westerly direction and ascended through heavy scree towards Stella Point along the crater rim. With factors such as a seriously steep incline, freezing temperatures, and total darkness, this was by far the most mentally and physically challenging part of the trek. The group had a short rest at Stella Point before continuing on to Uhuru Peak, the highest point on Mt. Kilimanjaro and the continent of Africa.
From the summit, our climbers descended down to Mweka Hut Camp. Tonight, they’ll enjoy their last dinner together on the mountain–topped off by a special cake, complete with frosting and celebratory inscription. Elevation varied widely today between 15,090-19,341-10,170 FT (4,600-5,895-3,100 M). By the end of the day, our climbers will have trekked 4.3 M (7 KM) to ascend and 14.3 M (23 KM) to descend over a total of 12-15 hours!
Tomorrow, the group will descend down to Mweka Park Gate where they’ll receive their summit certificates and be rewarded with cold beverages and salty snacks. For this last portion of the journey the elevation will vary between 10,170-5,900 FT (3,100-1,800 M) and total distance hiked will be 5 M (8 KM) over 3-4 hours.
We’re so proud of all of our amazing climbers and can’t wait to high five, hug, and congratulate each of them on their diligence, grit and sheer endurance over this past week.
Day Five: Barafu Camp & Summit Night
It’s been another short trekking day for the team, and the climbers have already reached Barafu Camp, their final stop before the summit attempt. They’ve had more great weather as they made their way up to Barafu at 4600 M–the highest they’ve been since trekking to Lava Tower on day three.
Climbers will eat a hot lunch on arrival, but will be encouraged to rest as much as possible this afternoon, readying themselves for tonight’s summit attempt. The group will have dinner (and carb load) around 5pm and make final preparations for the summit, ensuring their backpacks have the requisite Nalgene bottles wrapped in socks (as their CamelBaks will freeze!) and their many, many layers out and ready. The team will be persuaded to try for a few hours of sleep after their early dinner–not an easy task with the combination of nerves, excitement, and altitude—before putting on their warmest gear to depart camp around 11:30pm.
With only their headlamps and expert guides to lead the way in the darkness, the group will begin the slow, steep hike through the night. As this is the toughest challenge they will face, both physically and mentally, they will need to dig deep, stay strong, and support each other.
Day Four: Scaling the Great Barranco Wall
The team was up early today to take on the Great Barranco Wall! Most climbers love this part of the climb, as they get to put the trekking poles away and scramble over the rocks on the way to the top. This is a real “love it or hate it” moment, depending on one’s comfort with (or fear of) heights.
The group then traversed through the Alpine Desert over rock scree to the Karanga Valley, which is situated beneath the icefalls of the Heim, Kersten, and Decken Glaciers. As the group crossed a series of valleys, there were many ups and downs until they reached the campsite. By the end of the day, the group hiked a total distance of 4.3 miles (7 KM) over 4 hours at an elevation of 12,960-12,890 FT (3,950-3,930 M). Given that today’s terrain was a bit more challenging (and as the climbers near the summit), it’s one of the shorter trekking days. Once climbers reached Karanga campsite for lunch, they had the rest of the afternoon to relax, recuperate, and enjoy their beloved popcorn, hot chocolate, and comfortable shoes in anticipation of the magnificent sunset.
Everyone—including the guides and porters—are wearing their red Summit to See the END t-shirts today—as is the rest of the END Fund team from Arusha, New York City, and elsewhere, in solidarity! We continue to send our best climbing wishes, as our hikers near the summit day!
Day Three: Climb High, Sleep Low
Day three of the trek follows the “climb high, sleep low” principle. It’s an important day for acclimatization and will help the climbers prepare for their final summit. It is, however, the toughest day so far and a few of the climbers have started to feel the symptoms of altitude sickness, but we’re hopeful that camping “low” tonight will help their bodies adjust.
The group had an early morning start in order to begin their climb to 4,600 M (a height at which most people will feel the effects of the altitude) until they reach Lava Tower, a massive lava formation. Once they reach Lava Tower, they’ll eat a hearty lunch, explore the area and have a short rest to further acclimatize. It’s all downhill from there (literally, not metaphorically) as the climbers descend 650 M to 3,950M to spend the night in Barranco Camp, which is situated in a valley below the Breach and Great Barranco Wall. By the end of the day, the group will have hiked a total of 4.3 miles (7 KM) over 6 to 7 hours. At the campsite, the group will rest, eat a filling dinner (we’re betting on spaghetti), and enjoy a memorable sunset. As the nights get rather chilly, hikers are advised to wear layers to sleep in and ask for extra hot water for their Nalgene bottles to tuck into the foot of their sleeping bags.
We’re so proud of our climbers and their determination on this tough third day of the climb. We know they’re carrying your support and good wishes with them every step of the way.
Day Two: Still Smiling En Rout to Shira Camp
We are happy to report that the climbers had a good first night on the mountain! Everyone is feeling good and began the second day of the summit with smiles (see photo below).
After an early morning breakfast, the group left the rainforest to begin the hike above the clouds. Today, they will cross a small valley, hiking up a steep, rocky ridge. From there, the climbers will have amazing views of the Shira Plateau coming in from the west, Mount Meru rising through the clouds, and of course the ever present summit of Mount Kilimanjaro to the east.
Today, they will hike a total of 5.9 miles (9 KM) over 4 to 6 hours to reach 9,840 to 12,630 FT (3,000-3,850M) before arriving at the Shira campsite. At the campsite, the group will be encouraged to do a final acclimatizing hike before dinner. Our hunch is everyone will sleep soundly tonight…
Day One: Summit to See the END Begins!
Last night (Saturday) was filled with such energy and excitement, as our 16 climbers —from the US, UK, UAE, and Kenya — participated in a pre-climb briefing with our excellent guides from Kandoo Adventures, to go over final details and preparations. After a brief intermission with climbers repacking their duffel bags, the END Fund hosted a welcome dinner where we were joined by our partners from the Tanzanian Ministry of Health and Kilimanjaro Centre for Community Ophthalmology (KCCO), to share an overview about NTDs in Tanzania.
Early this (Sunday) morning, our group assembled their gear, had their final cappuccinos while getting their pulse and oxygen levels checked, and made the drive to the Mount Kilimanjaro National Park Gate. Once registration was completed, the crew assembled, and equipment sorted, the group began hiking through the lush Montane rainforest, surrounded by the sounds of the local wildlife (the monkeys tend to be heard rather than seen).
The climbers will make their way on a winding trail along a ridge to Machame Camp, which is located just as the forest begins to thin out. Hot drinks and snacks will await the climbers, with dinner to follow as they prepare to spend their first night on the mountain—and test out the comfort level of their sleeping bags. On this first official day of their trek, the group will have hiked a total of 6.8 miles (11 KM) over 5 to 7 hours to reach a total of 9,800 FT (3,000 M).
On Sunday, July 3, sixteen dedicated hikers will begin the journey of a lifetime as they start climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro; the culmination of months of training and raising funds and awareness for neglected tropical diseases (NTDs). Follow along as the group makes progress towards reaching the 19,341 ft (5,895 m) high summit!