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Kilimanjaro Intro


KILIMANJARO 2014

Journal Entries

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Kilimanjaro Intro


KILIMANJARO 2014

Journal Entries

 

Kilimanjaro is the highest mountain in all of Africa, standing at 19,341 ft above sea level. Part of Climb For Memory's goal is to raise awareness for Alzheimer's Disease through mountain climbs around the world. But up until this point, these climbs have only been attempted by one person at a time. This year's Kilimanjaro climb was an attempt to grow the organization into a body that helps others actualize their dreams of climbing and also their desire to help make an impact in the arena of Alzheimer's awareness.

This year's Kilimanjaro climb was a simple test to get things rolling, putting together a group of 9 climbers to attempt the summit. Now that the trip is over and saw immense success (8 out of 9 summits), we will be running this trip every year in January. If you are interested in climbing this peak in 2015, please contact us at climbformemory@gmail.com and we will start helping you plan your dream of climbing the highest peak in Africa!

 
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Kilimanjaro Day 1


KILIMANJARO DAY 1

January 12, 2014

Kilimanjaro Day 1


KILIMANJARO DAY 1

January 12, 2014

 

Damn, it's bloody hot! That was my first thought. My next thought was Well duh, I'm in Africa and near the equator. What did I expect?

After about 18 hours on the plane, I finally landed at Kilimanjaro International Airport in Tanzania. The flights were alright except for the second leg from NYC to Amsterdam where I was stuck next to this African man who kept telling me how much he liked to drink water. Like, he loved it. He kept yelling at the stewardess for more water. One cup wasn't enough, he wanted five at the same time. And then more after that. And then he felt the need to remind me of his love for water every time I was starting to nod off to sleep. He also told me that I eat slow, to which I replied 'so?' He also asked me if I was going to drink the wine I had just ordered, to which I said 'yes,' to which he responded, 'I don't like alcohol, I like water.' blank stare.

The flight from Amsterdam to Tanzania was hassle free and I was able to think without being told how good water was. We landed late in the evening so I wasn't able to notice anything about my surroundings as I stepped off the plane other than the fact that it was really balls-sticking-to-my-legs warm. Ahhh where's the AC??....You're in Africa doofus, deal with it. My bag successfully came through like hot curry and I was soon on my way with Charles, my driver, to Moshi - the nearest town to Kili.

Charles was able to teach me 6 Swahili words on the road and he warned me that he would test my memory when we arrived (I chuckled inside, does he know who I am???). The most important thing he taught me after though was mipe bia moja (give me one beer). I was set. As we neared Moshi, I could make out the snow-capped peak of Kilimanjaro even in the dark. The peak is just a monstrosity booming up into the sky with nothing else around it. Quite intimidating, I must admit.

The Keys Hotel is nice enough, with a quaint little courtyard where you can hang out and sip on some brewskis and a questionable swimming pool in the back yard. No AC in the room, but a fan (thank god a fan!!). It was late but I went down to the bar to order some Tanzanian stew dish that turned out to be pretty delicious. Ate it all while watching 'Black Hawk Down' which was playing on the TV, where a few locals were intensely watching....not the most welcoming movie for an American coming to Africa....Either way, it's a good movie and I hadn't seen it since it came out in theaters back in like 2001. I actually remember the date I was on when I saw it and remembered how it made me want to visit Africa (not because of the violence, but because of the landscapes, of course). I forgot how many (now) famous people there are in that film who were nobodies back then!

Anyways, I digress. That was all last night. Today I woke up having slept (inside my mosquito net) like a baby. Grabbed some eggs and bacon for breakfast, went back to sleep, met a few of the team members, then wandered into town. I must say, I've never traveled anywhere in the world where locals look at me like the way they look at me here. I dunno if it's because I'm white, or because I'm really white, or because I'm tall, or because I'm really tall, but it feels really strange to be just stared at. Not like glanced at, I mean full on watching-my-every-move stared at. Aside from that though, everyone is so friendly and it seems that Tanzanians love American culture. I've gotten a lot of random fist bumps, peace signs, and thumbs ups, which when I volley back at them, makes their faces light up with the biggest smiles. I saw a car that had the words "Michael Jordan" stickered HUGE on the windshield, because hey, if you're gonna put some words in big block letters on your windshield, who WOULDN'T put Michael Jordan?

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What's probably impressed me the most is how everyone carries things (balances things, rather) on their heads. What a talent! And I mean everything - grocery bags, picnic baskets, water coolers, etc. I guess it's more efficient and leaves your hands free to do whatever you want (like fist bump a tall American tourist). Can you imagine if everyone in America carried things like that? You'd be at say, Best Buy, and people would be walking around the parking lot looking for their car while balancing PS4s and MacBook Pros on their head. Ha!

Also, who knew 'The Lion King' was so useful! A bunch of words from it are real Swahili words. Hakuna Matata (no problem). Asante Sana (thank you very much). Simba (lion). Rafiki (friend). Props to Disney.

 
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Kilimanjaro Day 2


KILIMANJARO DAY 2

January 13, 2014

Kilimanjaro Day 2


KILIMANJARO DAY 2

January 13, 2014

 

Had our debriefing this morning with our four local guides (one of them was named Nelson! Oh yes, Nelson^2). All looks good. The rest of the team arrived as well and now we are one big happy fellowship (since we are nine...or maybe we are the Nazgul?). Everything looks good to go. We leave tomorrow at 8:30am for the park gate to the Machame Route (which is, from what I gather, not the easiest, but one of the easier routes on the mountain). The first day is supposed to be hot and long (18 km), but we'll end up at around 10,000ft once the day is through. So that's already some decent elevation.

I'm so pumped for this! I'll try to send out blog posts if at all possible, but in the event that I can't, you can follow my progress here:

https://share.delorme.com/NelsonDellis

POLE POLE! ('slowly, slowly' in Swahili).

 
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Kilimanjaro Day 6


KILIMANJARO DAY 6

January 18, 2014

Kilimanjaro Day 6


KILIMANJARO DAY 6

January 18, 2014

 

I've jumped from day 2 to day 6, I know. Sorry! I thought there'd be more cell service out here but I was wrong. I mean get with it Africa, even Everest had service...geez. We've been climbing for the past three days solid and it's been quite nice. Nothing crazy hard, just long slogs. Reminds me a lot of the Everest Base Camp trek. Only a few more days until we go for the summit (Friday at midnight). Everyone on our team is doing great so far. We're having tons of fun and the bathroom jokes have settled in comfortably over our dinners as they usually do on mountain trips.

The weather has been incredible too. All day it's either sunny or slightly misty and then when we get to camp it just becomes totally sunny. Last night we played around with our fancy cameras, taking night exposure shots while writing things in the sky with a flashlight. Super cool!

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Anyways, tomorrow things get a bit more serious as we'll be starting to sleep over 4000 meters. I'll try to check in when I can, but obviously it ain't easy. Best thing to do is follow my satellite tracker (linked in my previous post).

Out!

 
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Kilimanjaro Day 7


KILIMANJARO DAY 7

January 19, 2014

Kilimanjaro Day 7


KILIMANJARO DAY 7

January 19, 2014

 

Up to the last camp today folks! We'll be sitting somewhere above 15,000 ft. Then resting a few hours before we wake up at 11pm, stuff our faces with porridge and stale toast, then BOOM, shoot up to the summit (19,000 ft and change). Should take about 7 hours at a slowish pace, then I'll do a little dance on the summit (might actually try some burpees or memorize a deck of cards - we'll see how I feel), then head 2 hours down to the next camp feeling like a boss, craving a big African beer.

Our team is strong. A couple were feeling the altitude yesterday, but after today we'll have a better idea if all of us will be making it. I happen to think we all will. We passed this woman yesterday, probably in her mid-50s, but quite overweight (no idea why she is on this mountain in that shape), and hours later she showed up at camp (albeit partially carried by two porters). So if she had the will to get through yesterday's pretty steep climb, I don't know what excuse anyone can give to give up at this point. Ha!

Onwards!

 
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Kilimanjaro Day 8


KILIMANJARO DAY 8

January 20, 2014

Kilimanjaro Day 8


KILIMANJARO DAY 8

January 20, 2014

 

We have some summits here!!!

Team Supreme (that's us) bolted out of the gates at midnight on Saturday (a.m.), on a full-moonlit night. The weather had been hail all afternoon and cleared up to absolute perfection just as we left. We couldn't have asked for better weather and the moonlight was so bright it made our headlamps as necessary as nipples on a breast plate. Lovely.

We were pumped. We scarfed down some stale toast and porridge (ameliorated with some copious amounts of sugar and/or Milo), then packed up and left at midnight, on the dot. On the DOT!

8 out of the 9 of us suddenly found ourselves on the way up to the Roof of Africa ('ol papa Bill decided to sit this one out. Smart man, knowing his limits). For the next 7 hours we plodded up the mountain, negotiating rocks and skree. At first, doing well, chatting up a storm with a bazillion "would you rather" questions and debating which Bill Murray movie is the best (definitely 'Groundhog Day' for me). Then at about hour 4, everyone shut up because the altitude was starting to make some of us puke, develop severe head-pounding headaches, and question just what the hell we were doing.

I've climbed much higher and much more dangerous peaks, but I will say that climbing 4000 feet of elevation in 7 hours when you aren't really acclimatized is no joke. I must admit that I was suffering near the end because of that. I had one of the worst headaches imaginable. Either way, that isn't something to stop me (nor anyone else from our awesomely strong team, for that matter). We all pushed through.

As we approached Stella Point (the lower summit at the rim of the volcano crater) at about hour 6, the sun started to rise and coat the whole mountain with one of the most beautiful orange-reds I have ever seen. On our last switch back, I finally saw the sign for Stella Point and about a dozen people surrounding it. I let out a resounding "YES!!!" and marched upwards with a new sense of purpose.

Everyone else followed in line moments later, and we were soon hugging it out like men celebrating a winning touchdown. Aaron, who carries one of the most prophetic ginger beards I've ever seen, even managed to pull through despite puking a few times on the way up. Props to him. His beard-brother (a British fellow from another team carrying an equally prophetic, yet less dense, ginger beard) followed shortly and their beards gave a high five. I believe time stood still at that precise moment (and I'm pretty sure some kittens lives were spared as well). Quite a sight.

Our mission wasn't done yet though. We had 45 more minutes to the true summit, which was visible from Stella point but on the complete opposite (and slightly higher) side of the crater. So we plodded on.

As the sun rose higher and made everything even more beautiful, we increasingly struggled. Every new step was more painful than the one before it. It got even more painful hearing people who had already summited, pass us on the way down saying in a way-too-jovial-for-how-i-was-feeling kinda way, "you're almost there!" and "you can do it!" I ignored them and kept on, focusing rather on the beautiful scenery around me. It was right then that I was reminded why I do these climbs. Moments like that just remind me how amazing this planet is and how tiny and insignificant we all are. It puts your life into perspective in a flash. There's nothing else quite like it.

We powered on and finally we found ourselves at the true summit of Uhuru Peak. HELL YES. We all hugged, danced, and celebrated. I memorized a deck of cards (more on that later), while others took pictures of flags and random trinkets they had slogged up there. I can't say this enough, but what a fucking beautiful day it was. Stunning.

Young Bill and I headed down together after spending about an hour on the summit. We agreed to try and run down the mountain as fast as possible (for shits and giggles) with one of our guides (whose name was, wait for it.....Nelson. Yup). The way down was one of the most fun descents in recent memory for me, and we basically skree-skied it down, zipping by everyone (even porters) while sliding and spraying dirt all around us. We made it down in impressive 53 minutes. Ha! 7 hours up and less than an hour down. Amazing. I should have GoPro'd the whole thing, but I forgahhhht, DOH!

Everyone else from Team Supreme followed down to High Camp a few hours later and we rested, rehydrated, ate, and then headed down to a lower camp (this time at a leisurely pace). We all slept like babies and arose to our final breakfast, followed by an amazing singing of African mountain songs by our lovely 32 guides and porters (which sounded like Paul Simon's "Graceland" album, it was that good). We then shot down the rest of the mountain in about 3.5 hours where we bathed in the sun, drinking Kilimanjaro beers as we waited for our bus back to town.

An amazing trip, with amazing people, and an amazing new experience and more importantly....a new memory. I loved that every morning Zack (one of our team members) would shout out, as he firmly secured his Scottish plaid, newspaper-boy cap on his head: "Let's go make a memory!"

And so we did.

 
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