Daily Dispatches:

July 13, 2002 – High Camp and Ready for the Summit

This is Wally Berg, Ok, we made it, I am calling from the high camp, the entire team is here.

Dennis and Becky walked in here, Dennis’s partners, his training partners for climbing this year, Joel and Gary, are going to Elbrus, Dennis is not going to go there for awhile, but I think he changed to Kilimanjaro knowing that he had excuses to buy more camera lenses to take out on safari. Becky came along with him, for both safari and to try this climb, and they both look great here, ready to go.

Of course, from Columbia, Georgia, Richard and Katherine Waddell are here, Richard is still our navigator, he’s got that trusty altimeter hanging around his neck and he’s probably figured out a little more but I can see that he probably has to take a day off to climb the mountain and drive around the safari. He probably will still be investigating all the capabilities of that instrument he has.

Deke is looking strong, he got a lot of his gear from Alex Willis who is also going to be on Elbrus with us next month. The guy looks strong, he is grateful for the opportunity to be here and looking around the glaciers above, and all the blue sky, Deke is excited and pretty ready to go. I keep hearing that this is a Carolina blue sky, I don’t really know about that, but we will take it, it is certainly beautiful Africa weather, we’ve been looking up at those gleaming glaciers and they look pretty inviting, I can see right now all the way up to 19,000 feet, Stella Point, where we hope to be as the sun rises tomorrow.

Mary, of course, is still here, looking stronger every day. George had a lonely time being in a single tent and that is going to change soon, because Janeen, his wife, is on the plane as we speak, and certainly will be here tomorrow, flying over to join us for safari. So George is looking strong and fit, and ready to go and I know that he is looking forward to Janeen being with the team.

Karen Kilian has been as strong as any member in our group, always ready with great spirit, laughter, and she looks like this mountain is a piece of cake to her. She right now is getting her gear ready for tomorrow and she is getting her hat ready; Jack Simonson, special little boy, that’s she has been working with, at the Seattle Heart Center, Children’s Heart Center in Seattle, a patient of hers, Jack has undergone three surgeries and is fighting and is strong. Karen is going to get up this mountain and she is wearing that hat, that Jack’s mom Patty has made for her to wear, so, message back to Seattle, that hat is going up to the summit tomorrow.

And of course, Dr. Charles Martin, who probably spent more time on the phone with Leila than anyone, his heart has been here in Africa, since he left last year. He’s back, he looks strong; last year he told us many times, he went to 17,720 feet and tomorrow he is going to go to 19,341feet He is feeling strong, he is psyched and I am confident that we are going to have a good summit attempt tomorrow, of course, the mountain gets the last call, but we are going to give our best and we are certainly going to report to you from Uhuru tomorrow.

A lot is going on behind the scenes, down in the forest camp that we hope to reach sometime late tomorrow afternoon, we have already sent some of our Chagga Staff down there and pack off the mountains as I said; Janeen is on her way via International flight to Kilimanjaro Airport; and 2 really special guides, Rafael and Adam have already began driving our Land Rovers out to the middle of Serengeti, the 2 days drive, they are going to start out ahead of us, and of course the day after we get off the mountain, we are going to fly out and begin our safari; those adventures are going to be cybercast as well, and we are looking forward to sharing with you. We will call you from the summit tomorrow, it is not going to be easy, I am confident in my team and if the mountain is willing we will be calling from Uhuru very early tomorrow morning, the top of Africa.