- Deb's Kilimanjaro Adventure
Pre-Kilimanjaro: the beginning of my journey…
This journey for me started in February 2012 when Jenny Croaker mentioned that she was climbing Kilimanjaro for Guide Dogs NSW/ACT. For some time I had been looking for a way to give back to this amazing charity so this was it!
I have been a client of Guide Dogs NSW/ACT since my mid teens, some 20 years. I’ve been blind from infancy, having both eyes removed due to bilateral retinoblastoma (cancer of the retina of the eye in both eyes). Guide Dogs staff members started teaching me cane skills as a teenager and were there for me in all my transitions from school to university and college life, further studies and work. They taught me how to reach locations safely and independently as well as technical training in GPS and other equipment to help me navigate through the environment. They also provided my two most precious gifts in my guide dogs Wendy and Meg.
So it was as simple as that. Within the day of hearing about this crazy challenge, I had signed up. I had no idea at that point if anyone who was blind had ever tackled this mountain, but I figured that if it was for Guide Dogs then it must have been presumed that clients would want to take part, and therefore it must be possible. Absolutely crazy and completely illogical thinking on my part, but thankfully it was true! I did not even know where Kilimanjaro was and my first challenge was learning how to spell the mountain’s name!
Kilimanjaro for fitness and weight loss: a personal goal for transformation…
I wanted a physical challenge because I knew I had reached my lowest level of physical fitness ever in my life, and my highest weight. Certainly not points to be proud of and I knew I needed something like this to get me motivated and fit again. I also knew I had a long journey ahead.
Training was challenging, especially in the beginning. I felt like I wasn’t getting any fitter! I seemed to bounce from injury to injury requiring time out of training, and I felt like I’d be back where I started from. Slowly my fitness grew. I mainly focused on cardiovascular fitness to begin with, using exercise machines like cross trainer, bike, step machine and treadmill. Training became more fun once Jen started her regime and we trained together. I was much less fit than she was and hence had to start training much earlier.
We tackled some challenging walks through national park areas to get used to trekking on uneven surfaces. One trek was quite difficult and it took much longer than anticipated due to my slowness in navigation. It certainly made me realize just what a significant challenge was ahead for me. I also learned through this trek that the descent was slower than the ascent!
We also incorporated some strength training into our plan. We had the support of a local business, CrossFit Armidale who gave us free access to their classes as often as we wished, or were able, to attend. It added variety to our training and improved our core and limb strength. We felt strength was important for carrying our day packs and general ability to navigate over the rocks and uneven surfaces. Descent also required significant strength in our legs due to flexed knee position and speed control.
Staying motivated and focused on training… and fundraising!
In order to stay motivated to train, I found variety was helpful. Also having someone to train with made it far far easier. I could train for much longer while Jen and I were nattering away about all kinds of things. Also, the fear of not being fit enough was a good motivator, as was constantly reminding myself of why I was doing this challenge.
The other obvious and significant component to pre-event was fundraising. Fortunately for me, Jenny and I decided to work together on this. We increased our target significantly, and aimed to raise $30,000 between us. We were amazed at the generosity of many in our local community. Fundraising in a smaller rural area meant we were well known among the community for what we were trying to achieve. It also meant that we had to do many smaller events to achieve our target rather than receiving larger amounts for a few big events.
Almost every weekend we were doing something – market stalls, movie events, trivia night, and even barbecue! Shopping centre stalls were very popular, particularly when we had amazing support from local breeders who brought along their young Labrador or golden retriever pups to grab attention. The cute factor certainly worked and it also gave a tangible representation of what we were trying to achieve – the purchase of pups to assist Guide Dogs NSW/ACT establish their own breeding programme. We undertook an online auction which was also very successful, thanks to the promotion of this through media and Jenny’s efforts on Facebook.
We experienced disappointment at times, which were opportunities to learn a lot about fundraising in smaller communities. Much effort went into many applications for sponsorship and support. We received some amazing support from local and family businesses who did what they could. Armidale World Of Hire gave us a donation of $1000 to Guide Dogs, as did Armidale Country Women’s Association (CWA). BJN Graphic Design gave me $500 towards gear costs for the trek, which was very much appreciated. Adventure 195 supported us throughout the year with great advice and discounts on any gear we purchased from them, very valuable since I had no idea about trekking and the variety of gear we would need.
Charities helping charities…
When fundraising for a charity, it is amazing to receive support from other charities. Apart from CWA, some of our local Lions and Rotary Clubs also made donations. We even had promotion of our event through Labradog Rescue and Rehoming, Golden Retriever Rescue and Labrador Rescue. Labradog Rescue raised $250 for us through hosting a donation tin on their table at one of their major fundraising stalls in Sydney. Very generous given the function of their presence was to fundraise for their own charity.
Despite disappointments we hit our target… together.
One of our major disappointments was having to cancel our Christmas in July ball due to low ticket sales. This reinforced to us the need to undertake many smaller activities where attendant numbers could be lower and still make some profit for Guide Dogs NSW/ACT.
When we achieved our target we were both very excited and amazed to have done so. I was fortunate to have been able to work with Jenny on this project. She is an incredibly creative, talented, passionate and skilled person who was able to create many of the flyers, posters, displays and Facebook posts that I had no idea how to undertake. Visual aspects I find particularly challenging, and these visual presentations are so important in terms of obtaining exposure and attention. I will always be very grateful to Jen and the huge amount of time, effort and energy she put into this challenge for us.
The Mighty Kilimanjaro
On 25 November 2012, I flew out of Armidale bound for Tanzania, Africa, for a life changing trip. Here’s a photo of us at Sydney Airport waiting to board our international flight:
I felt uncertain and apprehensive as I left; wondering if I was capable of climbing Mt Kilimanjaro. Many said it was incredibly hard, but definitely worth the challenge. I couldn’t imagine how it could be rewarding, given some estimates I’d read said that a third and up to a half of people who attempt Kilimanjaro do not succeed. However I was with a great team (see above image) and this included a very skilled emergency physician, Dr. Steve, who was ready to intervene if any of us showed any signs of altitude sickness. We were taking a route that was longer but allowed us to acclimatise and we also had a very experienced team of Tanzanian guides and porters to support us. Even still, I knew it would be difficult, and probably the most difficult thing I’ve ever done.
“Team Doggies” is born…
We were a team of 10 Australians and we called ourselves “Team Doggies” because we had raised funds for Guide Dogs NSW/ACT. We had 6 Tanzanian guides, with an extra 3 for summit night. We also had a team of 39 porters and cooks so we were incredibly well supported and we were in great hands.
There were two of us in the trek team who were totally blind. Myself, and a Melbournian Henry Macphillamy. We each had a very experienced guide to help us the whole way. The team also rallied around us as much as they possibly could; certainly not easy given they were facing the tremendous challenge and newness of the experience for themselves.
The trek took 5 days and 1 night to reach the summit, and 2 days to return down the mountain via a different route.
An adventure full of ‘firsts’…
Climbing Kilimanjaro brought a number of “firsts” for me. It was my first encounter with long flights – a sum total of approximately 20 hours flying time each way! Also, camping was a real eye opener. The first night I wondered whether it would be camping that would bring me undone. By day 2 the shock had warn off and I started to get into the groove of camping.
On top of camping and long flights, there were cultural differences; hygiene issues given we would not be showering; limited hand washing (we made great friends with hand sanitizer); and we were used to very different methods of toileting. Our supporting team spoke Swahili, although most of them were very skilled speakers of English as well. Then there were the obvious physical and psychological challenges to contend with, so I could safely say it was challenging on all levels and very different to what I was used to on a day to day basis.
Then there was the mountain, and the altitude. We had to walk very slowly. “Pole pole” we would constantly here from our guides–Swahili for slowly slowly.
I was very fortunate regarding altitude sickness. I couldn’t seem to sleep more than 3 or 5 hours a night. I’m not sure if this was the altitude or whether it was due to not having any light perception so my body clock may not have reset properly. I’d fall asleep but then lay awake for hours afterwards. I experienced some nausea, loss of appetite, some headaches and some dizziness. I couldn’t think clearly and my usual problem solving skills seemed to be completely absent! But talk about emotional–I don’t think I’ve ever been so teary before. I was relieved to discover it was a normal part of altitude, but I also think for me it was testing me on all levels and many times I found I struggled with the challenge. I find it particularly difficult to ask for help and during this challenge I constantly needed assistance. Being in a different camp each night meant I never really learned my way around, so I couldn’t even go to the toilet without help to find it! And speaking of camps, I am phobic of rodents and at one camp there seemed to be a plague of them. Of course, it had to be the only camp on the whole trip at which we spent two nights!
The ascent and the thin air…
As we ascended I found I became increasingly breathless. Small tasks such as climbing out of the tent, standing up quickly, walking slower than I’ve ever walked in my life–and I’d still be breathless. On summit night I was literally counting steps at one point. I’d say in fifty double steps I can have a rest, and then it became 50 single steps, then in 30 steps, 20 steps, and 5 steps! I’d often say to my guide, Elias, “small rest”. Of course we couldn’t rest for long due to the cold, and a few seconds rest didn’t result in any significant decrease in my rapid breathing. “Breathe deeply” Elias would say, but I just couldn’t seem to get my breathing under any real control. It was as though I was running, and yet I was walking as slowly as possible! Often when Elias had to navigate me over particularly tricky ground, he would say “wait” as he stood and looked for the best path to take. My response on these occasions was to say “happy to wait, small rest”. We would laugh. I was happy to take any rest that was on offer, no matter how brief!
I’ve often been asked if there was a point at which I felt like quitting. I can’t say that there really was. There were definite points at which I wondered and worried that I’d not be able to make it, that I wouldn’t be strong enough emotionally or determined enough. There were certainly times when I wished and hoped we were closer to the summit than we were!
My guide, Elias, was incredible. I’m sure that guiding Henry and I wasn’t a task that just anyone could do, so we were so fortunate to have guides with such a lot of experience. Elias had climbed the mountain hundreds of times, all routes. He had never guided or summited anyone who was blind before. The first day I think he spent much of it observing and learning. He listened to the words members of the team were using around him to tell Henry and me what was in front. Gradually he started using these same words. He held on to me just above the elbow on the left side almost all the way. At times he’d have to walk behind or on my other side due to the terrain. However, he’d often walk very close to an edge with a significant drop off, walk over far tougher rocks, or where there was no trail, just to be able to continue to stabilize me and direct me as required. To have someone walk beside you and take such a difficult route to enable you to walk an easier path is incredibly humbling–and my gratitude for his assistance I have to say lead to the majority of my tears.
Elias (see image above) and Peter (Henry’s guide) worked incredibly hard for us to ensure we achieved the summit. They had to constantly tell us where to place our feet and what was in front:
“big step up”
“small step left”
“big step down to the right”
Often when we were most tired, I’d do the opposite to what Elias had said; and sometimes he’d say the opposite to what he meant. At these times we would just stop, say “sorry”, and laugh. Then keep going. I joked with Elias on the descent that he would either be dreaming these words for weeks, or instructing his family and friends on how to navigate the house!
On summit night we left Kibo Huts (summit base camp) at around 11pm. Or at least we were meant to, but I got two beauty nose bleeds. Dr. Steve helped me stop them – a nose bleed mid walk would have been a challenge. We couldn’t stop for too long because we would cool down; I do not know what temperature it was, maybe minus 10-15 with significant wind chill factor, but it was the first time I’ve experienced frozen water bottles! The wind, particularly at the summit, was incredible. I also had two trekking poles, one in each hand, which I needed to use to balance myself and use to feel the ground. To then have to hold my nose and walk would have been very tricky. Steve did a great job, and I didn’t get another bleed until heading down after the summit!
We trekked, and we trekked and we trekked. There was a point at which I think I started to panic a bit. The terrain became quite tough with steep rocks, and I was no doubt tired. The breathlessness was much worse. I felt I needed to use my hands as well as my feet to scale the rocks. I started to hand the trekking poles over to Elias and his response was “no”. I took a deep breath and continued on walking. Again I felt my instincts telling me to use my hands. Again I offered the trekking poles to Elias to take for me and again he refused. “But it might make it easier” I tried to explain. “No”. He said, “You will hit your head”. Of course he could see the overhanging rocks that I could not.
“I have done this many times, I know what to do. I have hold of you, you will not fall. You must trust me”.
And of course he was right. He’d climbed this mountain hundreds of times, and he’d showed me many times that he certainly did know what he was doing. I knew I trusted him absolutely and completely.
To trust someone so completely with our safety isn’t something we often experience in such a conscious way. Especially someone we’d only met a few days before! I did not fall once and I did not receive any injuries. Elias was absolutely incredible! I will always be grateful for his skilled presence and strength.
What I learned about strength on Kilimanjaro…
One of the things that really struck me from this trek was that strength isn’t about achievement with little or no difficulty. Strength – true strength is about being challenged, often having many challenges, but continuing on anyway. Both of us, I believe, found strength we didn’t know we had that night. After scaling an area of challenging rocks we reached Gilman’s Point. Elias said to me: “do you want to continue, it is two more hours”. I said “yes”. His response was a deep breath and a quiet “ok”. It was then that I realised just how absolutely exhausted he was. I’d found it tough, but he had found it just as hard as me, probably far harder than me, for different reasons. The guides were incredibly fit but the concentration this took from him and the sheer strength to support me was enormous. This, to me, was true strength and true courage. He continued on as enthusiastically as always, because I wanted to. This is why I say it was just as much an achievement for him as it was for me – probably more so for him in many ways.
Approaching the summit…
Elias and I plodded and plodded and plodded – and I puffed and panted and kept asking for a “small rest”. About 20 minutes out from the summit Elias’ voice changed and became more excited. “You are going to make it” he said. I wasn’t as certain as he was just yet!
“ten minutes to go”,
“5 minutes to go”, “4 minutes to go”, “3 minutes to go”,
“2 minutes to go”, 1 minute to go”,
“you are there”
He counted me in, and we hugged at the summit, and I, predictably, cried! We reached the summit just before 8am. I felt such a mix of emotions. Most of all was gratitude, then elation, relief, and pride. I felt proud of Elias for his amazing achievement in getting me to the top of that mountain, especially never having lead or guided a person who was blind before, just incredible! I was proud of our team and all we had accomplished and all we had sacrificed in order to be there.
We spent maybe a minute or two at the summit to grab photos, due to the high wind levels. Then it was the descent! As I flagged earlier, descent is just as slow, if not slower, for me. I still needed the constant directions of where to place my feet. So the descent was quite a challenge. This was partly due to the fact that it was much slower than for the rest of my team. Henry and I made it all the way down to the sign which indicated we had 2 hours to go. Here the path intercepted another smoother path and so we were taken from there by Jeep to the final gates to meet up with the rest of the team.
One of the miracles of the trek is my desire to go again. From someone who was apprehensive and uncertain, not sure if I really could or wanted to do this. I’d love to do it again and maybe Mt Meru too. Certainly no serious climbing mountains where things like pick axes, shovels and crampons are needed–Kili was certainly enough of a challenge for me.
Advice for those considering taking on Mt Kilimanjaro…
With regard to what I would advise anyone wishing to take on this challenge, I would stress the importance of having a great team. This, to me, was why I made it to the top. It isn’t “my Kilimanjaro” experience but “our Kilimanjaro” experience. Also, physical training, and perhaps this could include some deep breathing training as well. I did a little of this, but I don’t think I did enough. Having great gear is important. Also, I felt particularly on summit night that eating was very difficult, so having liquid energy drinks were great (when not frozen) or hard confectionary that I could suck on as I walked. Thanks Emma for those life saving Honey and Eucalyptus! Not only did they help by providing much needed energy, they also helped with the cough that I experienced, probably due to rapid breathing but also the amount of volcanic grit that was being blown about.
When I think of what Kilimanjaro has given me, the feeling that most comes to mind is gratitude. I am so grateful for having been able to have had this experience, and for the friendships I have made as a result. I also know that the feeling of strength and sense of achievement at having reached the summit of Mt Kilimanjaro will always remain with me and I have, since returning home from Kilimanjaro, had to draw on this feeling to get through some challenging times. I know this feeling will always be there, and will be strengthened by a future visit! While an obvious highlight of Kilimanjaro is achieving the summit, probably more important for me was the feeling of team spirit, comradery and the friendships I have made.
Your support got me there!
I am incredibly grateful for everyone’s support. Whether this be donations to Jen’s and my target of raising $30,000 for Guide Dogs; the purchase of merchandise at our stalls; the attendance at our various fundraising events; the many words of encouragement and support; and the phone calls I received from people when I returned home just to find out how it was and how I was feeling. Our families were also incredible: attending events, making many donations of goods and money, even staying at my home for the two weeks I was away to look after the house and my 5 dogs and 6 cats! This challenge wouldn’t have been possible without your support, so most importantly of all, thank you!
Here’s a great video of our porters celebrating our successful summit:
- An eye-opening journey to the summit of Kilimanjaro
Climbing Mt Kilimanjaro, the highest mountain in Africa, isn’t something you would usually commit to unless you had an impassioned driving factor. For both our featured adventurers, the drive to take on the Guide DOGS NSW/ACT Kilimanjaro Trek 2012 came from the desire to give back to an organisation that operates solely to enrich the lives of people with vision impairments.
Henry Macphillamy and Deb Warren have both been blind from infancy and acutely understand the challenges faced by Australia’s nearly 300,000 vision impaired. For Henry the support of Guide Dogs NSW/ACT meant he was paired with Billy the Beast, a beautiful brown Labrador who not only became a best friend, but who embodied unprecedented freedom, expanded horizons and endless opportunity. As a client of Guide Dogs NSW/ACT since her mid teens, Deb has fond memories of the support she has received from this organisation. From teaching her to use a cane and assisting her transitions from school to university and beyond, to presenting her with her two guide dogs, Wendy and Meg, Deb feels she is where she is today as a result of Guide Dog NSW/ACTs continued support.
So we thought we would ask both Henry and Deb why they decided to take on this challenge and what they feel they achieved…
What on earth prompted you to take on this adventure in the first place?
For both Henry and Deb, the decision to take on this amazing adventure was an impulsive one. Both blind from a young age – Henry was born blind and Deb had her eyes removed as a result of cancer of the retina as an infant – their main motivation was to give back to an organisation that has given so much to them. Henry, a little bored with his law subjects and wanting to do something in memory of his late guide dog Billy, decided to sign up on a whim. He says it was literally a case of “bugger it, I’m climbing a mountain” and then the next day researching exactly what he had gotten himself into. For Deb, having no idea if anyone who was blind had ever tackled this mountain before, the opportunity to give back to Guide Dogs NSW was the most important thing. Her biggest concern upon signing up was learning where Mt Kilimanjaro was and how to spell it!
How did you keep motivated and focussed on training?
Both Henry and Deb were determined to be fit enough to do everything they were physically capable of. Henry says by talking to people who had completed the climb, he was under no illusion as to just how hard this challenge would be. For Deb, knowing she had reached her lowest level of physical fitness and highest weight (points she says she is really not very proud of), undertaking this trek required making a commitment to hours of training everyday. For both adventurers, strength and altitude training was essential, as was the support of their family and friends. For Deb, the support of her friend Jen was invaluable. Jen, who Deb says is much fitter than her, encouraged her to sign up and offered to act as her guide during training treks and everyday fitness training.
In addition to being physically able to complete the adventure, both Henry and Deb were determined to achieve their fundraising goals. Henry says the donations he received kept him motivated. While for Deb, understanding the challenges of fundraising in a small community and being able to overcome them and reach her target was inspiring, making her even more determined to succeed in this adventure. Both Henry, and Deb with the support of Jen, individually raised over $30,000. Henry was pleased to know he had personally raised enough money to care for and train another guide dog like his beloved Billy. As a group, ‘Team Doggies’ raised over $113,000, far exceeding the objective set for the challenge.
What was the highlight of your adventure on the mountain?
For both Henry and Deb, the opportunity to climb Mt Kilimanjaro with such a supportive and encouraging team was very important. Deb experienced many of the lows associated with altitude sickness, including nausea, dizziness and headaches, coupled with the challenge of always having to ask for assistance on the mountain and at the camps, even just to find her way to the bathroom. However, for both Henry and Deb the support of their guides was their lifeline to the summit. Henry says when they reached the summit of Mt Kilimanjaro, his guide was ecstatic. Together they jumped in the air, acted like crazy men and embraced.
Jokingly, Henry says his poor guide would probably end up muttering instructions in his sleep as to where Henry was to put his feet for a long time to come. For Deb, reflecting on the journey that led to her summit success is most important to her. After a challenging trek herself, Deb says she only just realised how exhausted her guide was about two hours from the summit. Although very experienced on Kilimanjaro, the sheer concentration and strength her guide required to support her up the mountain was enormous. Upon reaching the summit, the group celebrated their achievement in the same way they had climbed – together.
Here’s a short clip of Henry and Deb on the mountain:
What have you taken from climbing Mt Kilimanjaro?
“If you put your mind into doing something, there’s every chance you’ll do it” says Henry, who was also humbled by the support he received from his family, friends and community. For Deb, her experience on the challenge bore the realisation that strength isn’t only about achievement; “true strength is about being challenged, often having many challenges, but continuing on anyway”.
What advice do you have for anyone considering taking on this challenge?
Both adventurers couldn’t stress enough the importance of training and having the right gear. Henry says:
“…be sure to look at the packing list very carefully and don’t skimp on anything, because the one thing you considered packing and didn’t, is the one thing you’ll wish you had when you’re on the mountain!”
For Deb, having the right people around her was the most important factor in her summit success, “this, to me, was why I made it to the top. It isn’t my Kilimanjaro experience, but our Kilimanjaro experience”.
Speaking of the people who help us on every summit attempt, here’s a short video of the team of porters who supported Team Doggies (Guide Dogs NSW/ACT) reach the top of the tallest freestanding mountain in the world, Mt Kilimanjaro:
Inspired by Henry and Deb’s experience? Read more…
- Visit Henry’s blog at www.macphillamysmusings.wordpress.com
- Read Deb’s full blog: Deb’s Kilimanjaro Adventure
Guide Dogs NSW/ACT aim to enhance the lives of people who are blind or have impaired vision by assisting their achievement of independence through access and mobility. This in turn increases confidence, ability and dignity. As their name states, they do raise and train guide dogs for people who are blind or have impaired vision, but it’s not all they do. Guide Dogs NSW/ACT offer a range of services from training people to use canes, canines and electronic aids to improve their mobility, to advocating on behalf of people they assist to make their community an easier place in which to live and work. Guide Dogs NSW/ACT offers these services free of charge and do not receive any government funding, however in 2012 alone, their staff travelled 750,000 across Australia to instruct in mobility, improve facilities and support the vision impaired in their communities.
Inspired Adventures has 9 adventures to Mt Kilimanjaro in 2013 for a variety of charities. Although a very physically and emotionally challenging adventure, the reward of summit success is only paralleled by the achievement of fundraising for your charity. As with Henry and Deb, the decision to participate in a challenge on a whim can lead to the most amazing experiences of your life.
To view all our upcoming charity challenges http://www.inspiredadventures.com.au/calendar/
For more information on Guide Dogs NSW/ACT http://www.guidedogs.com.au/home
- 2013 Kilimanjaro Challenge
Team World Vision go for the summit…
Mon. 18 Mar: Last day on the mountain
After reaching Uhuru Peak (5,895m), Team World Vision made their way to Horombo Huts, a 15km descent. They rested and spent their last evening on the mountain before waking up on Monday morning and trekking the last leg of their journey and being transferred to the hotel. Here’s an incredible image we received overnight of the team at the summit. They will commence their return to Australia tomorrow.
— Tim Peters (@TimAPeters) March 18, 2013
Sun. 17 Mar: Summit Day – Kibo to Uhuru Peak
8:45pm – message from Team World Vision (Sydney):
The summit climb had everything as promised – pitch black ascent in subzero temperatures and enduring howling wind at times. Temperatures at the crater rim plummeted, testing gear and willpower. It was as low as -15 degrees… water bottles froze, along with hands, faces and feet. However, none of that would deter our group of determined climbers! A stunning dawn emerged as we passed Gilman’s Point, revealing the full extent of the crater also. We have a few hours rest now and then we’ll continue down onto Horombo Camp at a much lower altitude.The descent is so much easier, despite the extreme slopes we walked up! The only way to deal with gradient is by digging your heals into the soft, loose sand on the slopes of Kili. You can ski down the slope, covering metres at a time. More soon… Paul – Inspired Adventures Tour Escort
3:42pm (Sydney): Team World Vision have made it to the summit of Mt Kilimanjaro! Huge achievement from this incredible team of fundraisers on St Patricks’s Day. They now have a 15km descent down to Horombo Huts. They’ll be trekking from 5,895m to 3,600m. Though they still have a long way to go until they can rest, no doubt they will all be spurred on by their summit experience. Well done everyone!!!
8:04am (Sydney): Our World Vision trekkers are already awake and moving. It’s just after midnight on Mt Kilimanjaro and they’re about to commence their final climb to the summit. Keep watch of the little yellow dots on the GPS map as they make their way to Gilman’s Point, onto Stellar Point and finally to Uhuru Peak at 5,895m.
Sat. 16 Mar: Mawenzi to Kibo Huts (4,750m)
Later today Team World Vision will make their way further up the mountain towards summit base camp at Kibo. They had their summit briefing late yesterday afternoon and are getting mentally prepared for waking at midnight and making the 8-hr climb to Uhuru Peak, rooftop of Africa. We expect them to summit mid-afternoon Sydney-time on Sunday. Stay tuned!
Wed. 13 Mar: Simba Camp (2,650m) to Kikelewa Caves (3,600m)
After their first night on the mountain, Team World Vision are now on the move (see GPS map above). Today they are trekking to Kikelewa Caves where they will set up camp. Today they will gain 1,000m in altitude as each step takes them closer to the summit at Uhuru Peak (5,895m). As they are making a physical ascent up the mountain, it is great to see that the funds raised for World Vision Australia are also up there. So far they have nearly reached $120,000 – what an incredible achievement! Check out the team fundraising page.
Tue. 12 Mar: Setting foot on Kilimanjaro
It’s morning here in Australia so our World Vision trekkers are fast asleep and enjoying their last night in a real bed before they take to the mountain later today. They have had their briefing and are oozing with motivation after an inspiring visit to see a World Vision project yesterday. Stay tuned later today as the team wake up and make their way towards the mountain. We expect the GPS mapping device to kick into gear later this evening. Tim from Team World Vision has been tweeting away from Tanzania. Here’s another one he sent just before he went to bed:
Trek up kili starts in the morning, very nervous & excited. 4 hour drive to the gate and then a 3 hour walk to our first camp at 2600ish!
— Tim Peters (@TimAPeters) March 11, 2013
Mon. 11 Mar: World Vision Project Visit
Team World Vision Australia are in Tanzania to take on Mt Kilimanjaro. However, they are also there to see World Vision’s work firsthand. Today they will visit the Mukulat Area Development Program in northern Tanzania where they’ll see examples of the types of projects they are helping to fund. These include efforts to improve access to clean water and ensure a more reliable food supply. Here’s a message from the team:
“We visited villages that have active, successful micro finance programs – one man spoke about the life-changing solar panel on his roof, while a widow proudly showed off her brick home and spoke of being able to send her children to boarding school – all and only possible through the community-led and managed micro finance program.
We also visited one of the ambitious and life-changing water supply projects. A groundwater well and pump that now distributes fresh water to storage tanks and into community taps. This has made a startling difference to people’s lives as people previously had to walk 15kms to source water. Now they are only a few metres from a constant, clean supply.” Paul (Tour Escort)
Sun. 10 Mar: Good Morning Kilimanjaro Airport
It is with great excitement that we report of the safe arrival of all 20 World Vision Australia trekkers (and their luggage!). Today they will have an opportunity to rest and adjust to the new timezone. Or they can use their free time to explore their new surroundings. Here’s a great image from Tim, one of the Team World Vision Trekkers.
Sat. 9 Mar: Tanzania here we come!
Nearly 12 months of fundraising and training finally culminates into much excitement as our Team World Vision trekkers make their way to various airports around Australia to depart for Tanzania. Here’s some pics of our trekkers at Sydney International Airport. Safe journey folks!
Sat. 2 Mar: One week to go!
Wed. 13 Feb: Excitement builds for our trekkers!
Fri. 1 Feb: Message of support from World Vision Australia
ABOUT WORLD VISION AUSTRALIA & THE KILIMANJARO CHALLENGE
On 9 March 2013, a passionate team of World Vision Australia supporters will board a plane bound for Tanzania. Without wasting any time they will head to Moshi and see World Vision’s work first hand when they visit the Mukulat Area Development Program. On 12 March they will lay their eyes upon Mt Kilimanjaro for the very first time. They will undergo a life-changing experience as they make their way to the summit knowing that every step they take has helped improve the lives of some of the world’s poorest children.
- Visit our image gallery: World Vision Kilimanjaro Challenge
- Follow the conversation on Twitter: @InspiredAdvntrs
- Visit the Team World Vision Fundraising Page
- Join Team World Vision on the 2013 Trek Peru Challenge
- Kilimanjaro Challenge 2013
**NOTE: GPS DEVICE MAY HAVE FROZEN – TEAM SPECIAL OLYMPICS SUMMITED KILIMANJARO ON THURSDAY 7 MARCH**
Thu. 7 Mar: Kibo (4,700) to Uhuru Peak (5,895m) - SUMMIT DAY!
7:33pm: The Special Olympics Australia Mountain Challenge team have summited! Tonight we heard news from the ground crew that our trekkers have made it to Uhuru Peak and are now on their way down the mountain. What an incredible achievement!
2pm: The Special Olympics Australia Mountain Challenge team have woken up at midnight (Tanzania time) to begin their trek to the summit under the stars. From where they are currently located on the mountain, the stars will seem much closer - perhaps close enough to touch. They will navigate the narrow switchback trail by the light of their headtorches and slowly make their way to Gilman's Point (5,685m). Getting to this point is perhaps the most difficult challenge of their entire journey. Step after step they will continue on past Gilman's and the plains below will be revealed as the sun rises over Mawenzi making it all worthwhile. The last part of the trek will take our 16 incredible trekkers on a 3-hour round trip along the crater rim where they will be able to see the crater and ice cliffs.
We expect the team to arrive at Uhuru Peak, the highest point in Africa, in the late afternoon (Sydney time).
Wed. 6 Mar: Mawenzi Tarn (4,330m) to Kibo (4,700m)
After spending time at Mawenzi acclimatising, Team Special Olympics (also known as 'The Kilimanjaro 16'), will make their way across the Saddle towards Kibo Huts. They have now been climbing for 5 days and the summit is oh-so-close! The team will arise at midnight (in Tanzania) to start the most exciting part of their journey - Kibo to Uhuru Peak, summit of Mt Kilimanjaro. Here's a reminder why they are climbing: video by Special Olympics Australia Chair, Mark Streeting, and Board Member, Kim Bryan.
We’ve made it to Mawenzi Hut.We can certainly feel we have a very formidable mountain to climb bit.ly/14o8iku
— Heather Rickard (@HeatherRickard) March 5, 2013
Tue. 5 Mar: Acclimatising in Mawenzi
Today Team Special Olympics spent the day at Mawenzi Tarn to acclimatise for the next stage of the climb. An incredible image of the team sitting on the side of Mawenzi Peak (over 4,300 metres above sea level) came through tonight. The team will soon be out of range. Tomorrow they will set out across the Saddle for Kibo before making for the summit on Thursday. Up, up, up they go!
Mon. 4 Mar: The air is getting thinner.
The air is getting thinner as Team Special Olympics make their way closer to Uhuru Peak (the summit). Tonight the team will camp at Mawenzi Tarn huts in shadow of Mawenzi Peak. Tomorrow they will be able to explore the area as they acclimatise in preparation for the trek to the summit on Thursday.
Sun. 3 Mar: Simba Camp to Kikelewa Caves
After their first night on the mountain, today Team Special Olympics Australia will trek to Kikelewa Caves (3,800m). As they get closer to the caves, the mountain will open up and it is then that our 16 trekkers will get a first taste of just how big this mountain is. From this vantage point they should see incredible views of Kibo and the easter ice fields.
Sat. 2 Mar: First encounter with Mt Kilimanjaro!
And they're off! Today Team Special Olympics Australia had their first unobstructed view of Mt Kilimanjaro from the bus as they drove closer and closer to the gate where their trek begins. The team sorted out their National Park permits and began their trek from Marangu Gate. Tonight they will spend their first night on the mountain after they trek to Simba Camp. Images below:
Fri. 1 Mar: Ready and Raring to Go!What a packed day! We bid farewell to Dar Es Salaam and flew into Kilimanjaro Aiport. The mountain was being a bit shy and hiding behind the clouds so we didn't get to see her from the air this time!
It really feels like we are in Africa now, hot and dusty. John and Nikola joined us today so we had our first meal with the entire team. It feels really good to have everyone here and reunions are already being planned! A wander around town for last minute purchases of the Kilimanjaro Beer t-shirt that says "If you cannot climb it; drink it!" seems very popular. The beer connoisseurs amongst us hoping to both climb it and drink it (during our post-summit celebrations!). Today we also met Onyx (our head moutain guide), and Dr Jeff (who'll be looking after our health during the climb), as well as many of our other guides and crew. We are in such great hands and with this amount of support from such a great crew the nerves are settling and the excitement is growing. So wish us luck, as tomorrow the biggest challenge many of have ever undertaken starts! But with the smiles and determination of the young athletes we met fresh in our minds and with the knowledge that every step up that mountain and every dollar raised will bring about more of those smiles, we know it is all worth it! Let the adventure begin!!!
Thu. 28 Feb: Update from Africa!
We have spent an amazing morning with some fun, beautiful and inspiring children participating in a wonderful new young athletes development program run by Special Olympics Tanzania. The smiles were plentiful and infectious. The effect such a program has on the lives of special needs kids is clear.... This program is exactly what the fundraising efforts of our trekkers are going towards setting up in Australia. Thanks to all of our sponsors - without generosity from people just like you this would not be possible. This has been a great reminder of what this challenge is all about. It is just the motivation we need for the next week when we take on Mt Kilimanjaro. A special thanks to Frank from Special Olympics Tanzania. Also to Juliet, the rest of the staff, parents and volunteers and of course the children, for making us feel so welcome! Photos are on our the Kilimanjaro Challenge album.
"Wow this trip is already amazing and we are not even there yet!... In a few hours we will be in Nairobi and on Thursday we will be meeting a Special Olympian who has climbed Kilimanjaro. What an inspiration for us that will be." Heather's blog
Wed 27 Feb: Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania From Jo (Tour Escort): Here are the first arrivals to Dar Es Salaam. Smiles all round! Team Special Olympics have arrived safely; all are happy excited and ready for a big sleep. Most of the team spent their time relaxing by the pool, getting to know each other and a little bit of exploring. Wow, Dar Es Salaam is hot and humid today! 3pm (Inspired Adventures): Karibu* Team Special Olympics Australia! . After a long journey, our adventurers will be arriving in the vibrant city of Dar Es Salaam. We look forward to hearing an update from the team once they arrive. Stay tuned! Here's our Facebook album for the Kilimanjaro Challenge. *Karibu means 'welcome' in Swahili
Tue 26 Feb: Farewell Australia; hello Africa!
There was much excitement this morning as our Kilimanjaro climbers gathered at Sydney International Airport to board their flight to Tanzania (image above). Meanwhile our trekkers at Brisbane Airport had to play a game of strategy in order to get some donated Special Olympics uniforms over to their counterparts in Tanzania. The folks at Brisbane airport wouldn't allow the donation on board so the team members layered up and took flight getting away with taking most of the uniforms with them. Well done! (image above from Special Olympics Australia Facebook page)
Team Special Olympics have a long journey ahead of them but they will be rewarded when they arrive in Dar Es Salaam and have an opportunity to relax or explore this thriving city by the sea. Have you met the team yet? Head over to Special Olympics Australia and read up on each adventurer taking part in this epic challenge.
Mon. Feb 25: Tweets by Damien Leith & Heather
Special Olympics Australia Ambassador, Damien Leith, had a special farewell to his wife, Eileen. She has taken on this challenge with her friend Katherine. They call themselves "Two mums and a Mountain" and they have been eagerly training for this epic adventure.
Special Olympics Australia supporter, Heather, has also been training hard and raising a significant amount of funds for this fantastic cause. She is capturing the experience on her blog.
Fri. Feb 22: Message from Special Olympics Australia
16 Inspiring SUPPORTERS are ready to tackle and conquer Mount Kilimanjaro next week in support of Special... fb.me/2rIVV9gf8
— Special Olympics Aus (@SOAustralia) February 22, 2013
About Special Olympics Australia & the Kilimanjaro Challenge
Special Olympics Australia is part of a global community that promotes sport as a means of acceptance and participation for people with an intellectual disability. A not-for-profit organisation, Special Olympics Australia was established in 1976 and annually supports around 4600 athletes in over 350 sports clubs in Australia.
The Special Olympics Australia 2013 Kilimanjaro Challenge is an exhilarating 14-day adventure to the summit of Mt Kilimanjaro. Our dedicated adventurers will be trekking to inspire children and adults living with an intellectual disability to achieve their personal best in life through commitment to, and participation in regular sporting activities.
Special Olympics Australia aim to raise $100,000.00 to ensure their vital work can be continued. Currently sitting on just over $82,000.00, the efforts of adventurers and their supporters has been overwhelming. There's still a way to go so get involved and make a donation today - Team Fundraising Page.
- Meet the adventurers: Team Special Olympics
- Support the team: make a donation
- Inspired Adventures image gallery: Kilimanjaro Challenge Album
- Special Olympics Australia gallery: Kilimanjaro Challenge 2013
- Heather's blog
- Video: Mark Streeting and Kim Bryan "We are Ready!"
TEAM SPECIAL OLYMPICS AUSTRALIA IN THE MEDIA!
What a Team! Before heading for Mt Kilimanjaro, Team Special Olympics Australia generated a fair bit of media attention about their epic journey to the rooftop of Africa. Visit Special Olympics Australia's website to see links to all the articles.
- Climb for Community 2013
Wed. 13 Feb: Uhuru Peak – summit of Mt Kilimanjaro!
Tue. 12 Feb: Mawenzi Tarn to Kibo (4,730m) – GETTING HIGHER!
Last night we received a message from the team. Many spent the day resting at the campsite at Mawenzi Tarn while a few trekked further up the mountain to test the altitude and stretch their legs. We’ve posted the message on this GoogleMap image of where the team triggered the GPS point on their rest-day walk. We have a couple of team members suffering from the altitude but they are in excellent hands with our Team Doctor and expert ground crew.
Be sure to tune into the TrekTraka map and follow the team as they head from Mawenzi Tarn to Kibo later today then head for the summit tomorrow.
Mon. 11 Feb: Mawenzi Tarn (4,330m)
Way to go Team Wayside! Today the team are rewarded with a day off. Tomorrow they have a hard day of trekking as they cross the saddle between Mawenzi and Kibo. Be sure to follow the team tomorrow as they set off. TrekTraka map.
Sun. 10 Feb: Kikelewa Caves to Mawenzi Tarn (4,330m)
At around midnight last night, we received a text message from Team Wayside:
“3,676m!! Team doing well… we’re just 1 hour from camp!!”
Given the time difference (and altitude), Team Wayside would have been one hour from arriving at Kikelewa Caves. After sleeping there for the night they are off to climb Mawenzi Tarn, the only permanent mountain lake on Kilimanjaro. To arrive at their campsite for tonight, they will have had to overcome a number of steep section which will offer Team Wayside amazing views in all directions. Upon arriving in Mawenzi Tarn (10:04pm on Sunday night, Sydney time), Team Wayside will be able to sit back and rest so that they can acclimatise for their summit attempt.
Sat. 9 Feb: Simba Camp (2,600m) to Kikelewa Caves (3,800m)
This morning Team Wayside have woken up after their first night on the mountain. They have a steep climb ahead of them as they clive to ‘Second Cave’ at 3,450m where they will be rewarded by stunning views of the eastern icefields of the crater rim. They will also have incredible views of Kibo (if the weather is right!). After lunch, Team Wayside will continue up through the moorland until they reach Kikelewa Caves after a long day of trekking and climbing.
Fri. 8 Feb: Team Wayside meet Mt Kilimanjaro
Today the trek begins. Our 22 trekkers will make their way from the village of Nale Moru (1,950m) to their first campsite, Simba Camp at 2,600m above sea level. Here’s a message from Nat, our Tour Escort:
“After 2 moving days on the community project Team Wayside are gearing up for the challenge of their lives! We’re heading off this morning towards Kilimanjaro and will start trekking after a hearty lunch!!”
Thu. 7 Feb: Arusha City, Tanzania
Incredible images coming in from Team Wayside as they spend time on the ground in Tanzania before they commence their trek. They have had a wonderful opportunity to spend 2-days in “disadvantaged areas of Arusha, at the base of Kilimanjaro, to give something back to the local community. They’ve been busy building toilets and buildings and learning about the challenges facing marginalised people in Africa. A big thank you to the Centre for Community Initiatives for giving us the opportunity to support the local people.” Wayside Chapel Climb for Community photo album
Wed. 6 Feb: Community Project
Here are some images from the project visit (from the Wayside Chapel’s album ‘Climb for Community – Part 1′).
You can view all the images on the Wayside Chapel Facebook album.
Tue. 5 Feb: Arrival in Moshi, Tanzania
After a long flight, Team Wayside will have a well-deserved rest in their hotel in Arusha. Tomorrow they will spend time with disadvantaged communities around Arusha and work alongside the Centre for Community Initiatives, an organisation that helps poor communities to develop their quality of life through sustainable solutions.
Mon. 4 Feb: Team Wayside Depart for Tanzania
“Here they are! Our dear Kilimanjaro Trekkers are moments away from getting on their flight to Africa. Go you good things!” Wayside Chapel, message from Facebook page.
Wed. 29 Jan: Team Wayside hit $150,000!
More from the Wayside Chapel Climb for Community 2013
About the Wayside Chapel
The Wayside Chapel has been providing unconditional love, care and support to people on and around the streets of Kings Cross since it first opened its doors in 1964. Each year, thousands of people visit Wayside for assistance in gaining equitable access to essential health, welfare and related services.
Meet Team Wayside
Here’s a wonderful video put together by Peter Fayers. Watch it and be inspired about the work of Wayside and by Peter’s commitment to the cause.