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Climb for a cause

Climb For a Cause: Kilimanjaro Climb to Raise Money for
THAI Children Missions

Ever since I read the novel Travels by Michael Crichton for my 10th grade English summer reading assignment, I’d always been interested in an adventure up the highest point in Africa, Kilimanjaro. Something about the mountain was so enticing, so exciting, that I couldn’t let the opportunity pass me by.

When I began to think about it, I decided that I also couldn’t pass the opportunity to raise money for THAI Children. I began accepting sponsorships to climb the mountain months before the climb began. We raised about $10,000, which will fund for future mission trips. Each cleft lip or palate surgery costs about $250 in medical supplies, so this could fund approximately 40 childrens’ surgeries. (All funds raised were used towards medical supplies for mission trips, not for the climb.)

And then my father and I started our climb up the mountain in July of 2013. I’d read a lot about the mountain; what to expect, the weather, and the gear necessary for the climb, so generally we were prepared going up. What I wasn’t prepared for, however, was the extent of the physical exertion that we would face on the way up.

At many points, I was pushed past the point of physical exertion, and I often doubted my ability to complete the climb. However, I was driven by a passionate goal to complete the monstrous task, and it taught me important lessons about physical as well as mental harmony when put under extreme pressure. It helped me realize the strength of the human will to accomplish things against all odds. All things in life are possible with focus, hard work, and passion.

Just like my guide Halid told me during those times of doubt: “Pole, Pole,” Which in Swahili means “Slowly, Slowly.” Then he would remind me to take “One step at a time.” The most difficult tasks in life can’t be rushed; rather, they must be accomplished with drive, perseverance, and patience.

Mt. Kilimanjaro Climb - Day 1

Day 1 was one of the easier days. Following a “gilded path”, we trekked through the rainforest of Kilimanjaro. It was damp and muddy yet beautiful in its own interesting way.

We could hear the sound of monkeys swinging across the high trees as we made our way up to 10,000 feet. When we got to camp after 6 hours, we were tired but excited to continue our climb for the next day.

Machame Gate

The Machame Gate: The starting point of the journey up Kilimanjaro

Rain Forest

The rainforest was a vast, lush landscape that was beautiful.

Base Camp

The camp after the first day of climbing. Uhuru peak can
be seen in the distance.

 

Mt. Kilimanjaro Climb - Day 2

Day 2 was much more difficult for us. It was steeper, colder, and more technical. We found ourselves stepping onto high rocks and descending quickly. Acclimatizing to the high altitude was difficult, although we responded generally well to it.

Beautiful views followed the somewhat desolate path up, with the clouds far below us and a vast amount of foliage spread out as far as the eye could see. Finally, after 5 hours climbing almost vertically on sharp rocks, we made it to camp. That night we were warned that sleeping would be difficult as the high altitude disturbed normal sleep.

It was one of the toughest nights of sleep we would ever get, as we woke up constantly throughout the night and couldn’t fall back asleep. We had made it to 12,000 feet.

Day 2 Climb

The climb on day 2. Uhuru peak can be seen in the distance.

Base Camp

This is the tent where we would eat during meals.


Mt. Kilimanjaro Climb - Day 3

Day 3 was the second most grueling day. The climb itself wasn’t very difficult, but it was extremely long. Spread between huge valleys of nothing but desert were small patches of steep climb as we made our way around the lava tower, which was essentially a huge mound of rocks and boulders that was a few hundred feet high.

Despite the somewhat desolate landscape the view was spectacular; we could see Uhuru peak, the highest point, in the distance. The reddish tint of the massive structures kept our energy going. We finally made it to camp after 8 grueling hours in the increasingly cold weather at 13000 feet. Again, we found little sleep.

Day_3

A beautiful view of Uhuru peak shrouded by clouds at
midday during one of the longest days of the climb.

Base Camp_day 3

Lava Tower

A view of the lava tower, which is the “halfway” point between the day 2 camp and the day 3 camp.


Me and my guide Christopher sitting on a large boulder with
a great view of one of the shorter mountains in Tanzania.
 

Mt. Kilimanjaro Climb - Day 4

Day 4 was a stressful day. It was the day we would climb the infamous Barranco wall, which was practically vertical as we scrambled for 2 hours nonstop. One wrong step and the cliff that was the barranco wall would take us with it. After being extremely careful, we made it to the top, where we saw one of the most spectacular views of the climb. Uhuru peak was well in front of us and was absolutely massive; we felt like we could almost touch it. After taking pictures, we made our way down another 2 hours and made it to camp where we stayed at about 14000 feet for the night.

Barranco Wall Climb

The Barranco wall was a technical climb as we scrambled on rocks.

Barranco Wall Climb 2

A photo of me and my father  near the top of the Barranco wall.

Top of Barranco Wall

On top of the Barranco Wall, there is a fantastic view of
Uhuru peak in the distance
 

Mt. Kilimanjaro Climb - Day 5

Day 5 was the easiest day because it was the day before the summit attempt. It was only 3 hours of a trek and it was mostly downhill. Although it didn’t require much climbing, downhill climbing is very taxing on the shins and knees. When we got to camp, we were at about 16000 feet, and we were excited yet afraid for the summit attempt. At 12:00 that night we would be woken up to get our gear ready. We were allowed to have a few hours sleep before the hardest day of the climb.

Day 5

Day 5 was a relatively short climb. You can see the porters holding very heavy packs.

Mt. Kilimanjaro Climb - Day 6

The summit day is not like anyone describes it. Sure, many people can describe the pain and exertion they face, but it’s generally incomparable to the actuality of the climb. Without exaggeration, the way up was almost vertical. It was darker than a house in a blackout at night and all we had to see was our trusty head lamps that only did so much. In the distance we could barely make out Uhuru peak, the dark, almost ominous outline that beckoned us to come. About an hour into the attempt, we began to feel fatigued all over our bodies. Our legs were giving out. Our breathing was difficult as only 2/3 oxygen was at our altitude. We coughed constantly and the freezing weather (about -15 degrees Fahrenheit) nipped at our fingers, toes, noses, and exposed skin.

After another 4 brutal hours of climbing, we made it to Stella point, the second highest point in Africa next to Uhuru, which was our goal. Exhausted yet excited to continue the climb, we took a 15 minute break and tried our best to eat gummies and drink water, but the water was frozen and the altitude didn’t help our appetite. Still, we managed to regain some energy even though our feet felt like they were blocks of ice. Our guides asked us if we were ready to get to the top. We confirmed that we were.

The climb to the top was only an hour but felt like a lifetime. Although it was a relatively gentle path, our legs felt like lead as every step felt like a mile. By the time we were halfway there, the sun had already started to rise, alleviating some of the brutal cold that was in the dark. After an hour, we had made it to the top. Uhuru peak was the most beautiful thing that any of us had ever seen. The sun rose in the distance and casted a beautiful ray of sunshine all over the things below us. Near us were the receding glaciers that would only be there for another 10 or so years.

After an emotional moment, me and my father neared the big sign that said “Congratulations! You have made it to Uhuru peak, 19340 feet!” We took our pictures, and after congratulating each other, made our way down. We took a nap at camp before moving lower for the next day.


Torch

A photo of me just before the climb, with my head lamp and my heavy gear for the freezing cold weather.


Stella Point

We finally made it to Stella Point, the second highest point in Africa next to Uhuru Peak. It was a brutal climb up.

Uhuru Peak

We finally made it to Uhuru Peak, the roof of Africa! We celebrate by taking a photo near the sign.

Uhuru Peak_Group

I am pictured here with the guides, Halid (left) and Christopher (right) at Uhuru Peak.

Mt. Kilimanjaro Climb - Day 7

Day 7 was an easy day, but it was long. Around 5 hours we went down from the highest point in Africa to 1000 meters. When we made it down, we were not only happy for our accomplishment, but also for the smiles that we saved by undertaking this journey to the roof of Africa.


Day 7 With Team

We are pictured here with our team on day 7, just before beginning our final descent off of Kilimanjaro.

 

 
 

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