December 26 – Team turns back just under 19,000 feet

Annette Bowie and Sandy Geisel called in today from the Millennium Camp, just below 13,000 feet on the Mweka descent trail on Kilimanjaro. The entire team is now safely resting and eating dinner at what will be their last camp on Kilimanjaro. Tomorrow they will descend all the way through the forest to the Mweka to be picked up by BAI drivers and returned to Arusha.

We had received a message by cell phone from August, their guide, at about 7:30 in the morning Tanzania time that the team had turned back just below Stella Point at 19,000 feet on the Crater Rim of Kilimanjaro.  Later in the day from the Milimium Camo at 13,000 ft.  Annette and Sandy filled us in on some of the details of their long morning climbing to near the top of the highest point in Africa . They team had spent the night at Barafu Camp, 15,100 feet, when they made last night’s dispatch just before going to bed.  By 11:45 PM they were awake again and climbing through the darkness toward the summit. 

The team moved slowly, as is always the case on a Kili summit day in the high thin air at the top of the Africa .  Kevin, who had not been feeling so great throughout the entire 5 days of the climb prior to the summit attempt, was still feeling the effects of the high altitude. Early in the climb the decision was made that Kevin descend with the guide Stratton.  Sharon, Annette and Sandy and the guides August and Filipian continued on, but in the cold early morning hours just below the top the decision was made to descend together.  According to Sandy this was about 5:30 AM , still in the moonlit darkness on Kilimanjaro.  She looked across and saw the top of Mawenzi at 17,000 feet.  August, who has guided more that 260 ascents of Kilimanjaro reported to us that the team was very close to the Crater Rim, but that the team had been moving slowly and that some members were very cold with the clothing they had.  In the cold demanding environment near the top they made the prudent decision to descend.

This photo will show just how high on the mountain they were, August said they were just a short distance below Stella Point.  Although Uhuru Point, the very top, is only 340 feet higher than Stella Point, but it takes at least 1 1/2 hours to get from Stella out to Uhuru. That may not sound like long to anyone reading this account from lower altitudes, but the round trip on the very top would have taken the team hours and hours.  They made the right decision.

Tomorrow they will be off the mountain and will meet Bryant Jackson who has already arrived in Arusha and will join this team on their safari adventure.  We look forward to hearing more from them during this portion of their trip.