July 10, 2002 Through the Cloud Forest
This is Wally Berg; I am calling you on the morning of Wednesday, July 10th, from the top of the cloud forest on Kilimanjaro at 9600 feet.
I want to welcome everyone back, this is our second cybercast on Bergadventures.com, and also I want to welcome those of you there following us at Everestnews.com. This climb on Kilimanjaro this month is the first of a number of climbs of mountains around the world including Elbrus, Ama Dablam and Vinson later this year, and Everest next spring that you can follow on the Berg Adventures and Everest News websites.
The most special welcome I have this morning though is for the students at Lansing Middle School at Lansing, New York. Your Principal Mary Bente is off on another of her world adventures and I know that you are in your summer break, of course, but she has given you some books that you might read this summer, and I know that you are following her adventures again. Mary is a mountaineer off on another of her climbs and as she always does, and we always do, the climbing is a great excuse to learn about the world and meet people of the world, and I hope that you enjoy following her adventures from here on the mountain, and out to the safari afterwards with the people of Tanzania.
This morning probably for the group, the main thing I can describe to you is that after we walked through the cloud forest, a long day yesterday - probably 7 to 8 hours of climbing through the mud. I mentioned that Kili was drier this year, but the mud was still there and we were still in the clouds. But in the evening yesterday, after we got in the camp quite tired, (unintelligible transmission) where is this mountain anyway and only moments later, the clouds cleared and in the alpine glow or the golden light of the evening, the big dome of Kilimanjaro was off in the distance. You should have seen this group, there was a lot of excitement, and something around “Oh my God!” (comments) and we really felt rewarded to see this. The view is here again, this morning of course, in the clear early morning light.
This group did really well yesterday; it is a very instrument-oriented group. One of the things that I have to tell you is that there are probably more ways to measure altitude - strapped on wrist and hang around necks with this group that I have ever seen. Everyone has an altimeter and of course we set it for 5600 feet when we started yesterday. Richard has the nicest one, Katherine and I noticed that he spent a lot of time trying to figure it out however, but eventually he got it adjusted, and of course the altimeter measures the weight of the column of air above you, when you climb up the mountain that changes as we get higher on the mountain, and of course it changes from weather. It is a digital altimeter but the little vacuum scale that weighs the column of air above you is the same way of measuring the air pressure that we have always used. These things are pretty accurate but all day long I was listening to one report from somebody’s wrist that we were at 7640 feet, and somebody else quickly corrected that is was 7615 or some other slight variation on the number of the altitude above sea level, that was interpreted by the instrument.
Here we go, we are going to be reporting the altitude a lot on this trip, I think, but the main thing is, we are a healthy, tired, but rejuvenated group after a good night of sleep and the top of Kilimanjaro lies ahead of us, and we will be looking forward to reporting to you beginning maybe briefly later this afternoon from the Shira Camp at 12,300' on Kilimanjaro.