December 31 – Steve’s Account of Summit Day

It is a very happy new year for Joey and me.  We both summitted the rim of Kilimanjaro on Dec 29th at 9:15 a.m. Tanzania time. We left Cosolo camp at 12:05 a.m. December 29th, loaded down with our heavy clothing and our headlamps strapped on our heads to see our way through the dark night. We could see the summit and glaciers of Kili glistening in the moonlight above us.

The summit should have taken six hours, but it took us nine – the last 200 yards took over 3 hours as Joey struggled still with altitude sickness. With incredible determination and courage, literally dead on his feet from exhaustion; he could barely keep his head up, Joey kept moving, one shuffle forward at a time. We were dehydrated, and whenever Joey paused to rest he fell asleep on his feet. He was physically sick, and the worried guides checked his fingernails, eyes, and lips to see if he was oxygen depleted. They decided to let him continue. A fellow climber saw Joey's determination and offered dried bananas to give him fuel for the last 40 yards. Finally, at 9:15 a.m. Joey made the final step to the summit and stood there wavering, looking at the volcano crater below him. Joey smiled and then kneeled into the stones, and fell sideways.

Our guides joined us on the ground, hugged us and held us as we all celebrated the incredible personal journey to the summit of Kilimanjaro.