August 9 Calling from Uhuru
This call is coming from Uhuru, the very top of Kilimanjaro and the very top of Africa at about 7:20 on August 9th.
Michael, Jean, Jeff, Fiona, David, Frank, Woody and Barbara are here. We all stepped onto the summit at 7:05 this morning. Every person in this group made a great effort. We had many hours climbing: we left at 12:30am and we climbed through the beautiful moonlight, up to Stella Point at 6 am. We wanted to turn back at Stella Point, but we decided to push on. All of us have our thoughts with Nick who had acclimatized well over the past 2 days, was very strong ant he was one of the most responsible members of the group, but he just had bad timing with stomach problems and went back down with Emanuel. We talked to him on the radio and he is resting well at the lower camp now.
There is a great sense of accomplishment, standing here in the cold wind, we are not going to linger long. We got our group photos with the huge glacier piling up to the west along with Mount Meru, we are looking down into the crater of Kilimanjaro. The sun is still coming up.
Before we left last night, Barbara read for us a note her son Andrew had written for all of us. Andrew is serving in the Marines and wanted to come on this trip but he couldn’t get away. He complimented each member of this group on their courage and their unique imagination as individuals to come on a trip like this. I also second what Andrew said. A lot of courage, fitness, and bravery went in to getting this group up here today. The entire group did well. Now we are going to head down and we will give you a report from the lower camp. And, of course, we are off tomorrow to great adventures in the Serengeti, Ngorongoro and those fabulous wildlife sanctuaries of northern Tanzania. Congratulations to the entire group, we are proud of them. We will report to you from the lower camp.
I am calling you now in the late afternoon of the 9th at the top of the forest in the misty rain, a couple of people commented today as we got back to our high camp, and had hot soup and sandwiches before we continued to descend, that this was the hardest day of their life. Meaning that physically they have put more into today than any day that they remember. Each member of this team had a satisfied but somewhat surprised impression of how hard this climb had been, but everyone had a great feeling of a mountaineer that has put in a big effort on a big mountain and was rewarded.
Nicholas, age 14, has been and still is a solid member of this team. He had a bit of a disappointment in not reaching the summit, but we all know that the mountain calls the shots. He made a great effort and he went to 16,500 feet, but when he turned back with Emanuel, he knew that he had given his best shot.
We just finished a great dinner; we were all very hungry and now we are settling down for the night, listening to the patter of the rain on our tents.