December 26 – Kilimanjaro: The Grandfather God

From Steve, Barranco Camp at 8pm

After having a late night Christmas surprise yesterday night of a fresh baked cake from our staff and being entertained by Christmas songs sung in Swahili, we woke up this morning to the reality of altitude sickness.

Altitude sickness is like a spider web circling Kilimanjaro and all human beings land in it. No one avoids it. It just depends on whether you land in the center of the web.

Our team has been reduced from 4 to 2. Bill and Tierney who landed closer to the center of the altitude symptom web had to get off the mountain. Steve and Joey stayed and began a bizarre 9 hour hike through the alpine desert reaching an altitude of 15,000 feet. The landscape was so foreign with huge lava rocks strewn about by Kilimanjaro thousands of years ago.

Hail and cold added to our struggle. We both had some battles with altitude symptoms. But as we reached Barranco, we feel exhausted but ready for tomorrow. We have decided that Mount Kilimanjaro is the Grandfather God. The snowy glaciers are white streaked beard. The lava boulders he threw in his youth and now he is content to be occasionally brush aside the clouds, so that we can see his benevolent face.

We would like to end by saying that we miss Tierney and Bill already. We miss Tierney’s practical knowledge and we miss Bill’s wisdom concerning the clouds, the winds and the mountain climate. Bye, bye. We will call again tomorrow. We wish everyone well.

From Bill in Arusha:  “And Then There Were Two”

Hello everyone this is Bill calling in on Sunday night from Arusha at 4,000 feet. “And then there were two.” Unfortunately altitude sickness got the better of Tierney last night in her tent and we had to get her back down to heavier air this morning. This left Steve and Joey to carry the flag of the Florida Flatlanders to the top of Kili.

As we left at 12,300 campsite this morning, the ground was frozen and the Kili snowcap was glistening in the sunrise. Nicholas’s team was superb on getting Tierney down the mountain in record time and we are now resting at the Arusha Hotel waiting for the next dispatch from Steve and Joey. We can’t wait to see their picture at the top of Kili and to return ourselves to this most beautiful and Majestic Mountain . Good night.