August 31 – We Reached the Summit of Kilimanjaro!

Listen to Audio of Wally's Call (.wav)

It’s just before 3:00 in the afternoon on Tuesday, August 31st and I’m calling you from what we call the Millennium Camp at the top of the forest at about 12,000 feet (3657m) on Kilimanjaro.  I had promised you a call from Uhuru Peak, the very top of Kili this morning but we were having such a good time up there I just never got around to it so I decided to combine that summit call with a ‘we made it down safely’ call and that’s what this is. 

BAI group reaches the crater of KilimanjaroWhat a marvelous summit we did have this morning.  We woke about 4:00am , in the crater of course, and by about 5:40am , 20 minutes before 6:00 we were climbing.  It took us only one hour to climb up to the very top of Kilimanjaro.  As we stepped up on the very last ridge to the summit there was a big full moon high in the sky.  The sun was rising of course and the shadow of Kilimanjaro was cast off to the west from the rising sun.

The guides were singing a song in Swahili, we hardly noticed at first but then we realized as various verses came along that each climber’s name was mentioned, first Julie, then Alex, then Jimmy is what they called Jim Alexander.  Then later August and Nicholas explained that that was a Swahili song of congratulation that they were singing to the team as they stepped up to the summit.

Just before we got on the summit a Swahili blessing scarlet was hung around the neck of each member.  It really looked beautiful in that morning light to see them all standing on the top.

I say it went quite well.  We got down here at exactly 12:00 noon , not that many hours after we started moving.  Tired of course, very satisfied and Hodson as you might expect had prepared a beautiful lunch for our arrival back to lower altitude.  There was even a card, a congratulations card laid at the placing of everyone at the lunch table.  I’m sure that Anna back at the office had something to do with that, I had forgotten about it but sometimes she sends those congratulation cards up to our members after they completed a climb.

Tomorrow we have a beautiful walk back through the forest on this side of the mountain.  It will be a much greener, denser forest than the group saw on the west side of the mountain.  It will not be a very long walk.  At the park gate we’ll say goodbye to the porters and most of the staff and we’ll make our way back to Arusha.  Please stay with us; we are going to have reports of our adventures as we head back to Arusha and as we go on to the Safari