It’s a sunny day, not unlike any other, but it somehow seems still. Perhaps it is just the Peaks Foundation team holding their breath as we await word from the 3 Peaks team. I have only received one message from the guides, and thankfully, it stated that the whole team is doing well and pushing on.
But I think I know how they are feeling. My guess is that they have all arrived at Barafu Camp (4600m – 15091ft) by now, perched ever so carefully on a ridgeline below the trail to the summit (5896m – 19343ft). They are likely standing around in down jackets and beanies, sipping cups of hot chocolate and snacking on popcorn, sharing jokes and taking in the views of Mount Meru off in the distance. I imagine they are reminiscing and at the same time making memories.
I had an email from 2010 team member, Belinda “Boo” Lees today that said:
The past few weeks have been incredibly nostalgic, so many flashbacks, and memories, but for me not only of the 3 weeks in Africa, but of the 18 month journey beforehand – that really changed my life in a way that I never imagined.
I couldn’t have said it better. I mean, after all, I never believed I would be sitting here writing a blog for the FOURTH annual climb!!! I am trembling. I know for the team, this next 24 hours is one they will remember forever, and I hope they, too, look back at the past year and feel that sense of accomplishment.
Many had never raised a dollar and in such a short time raised thousands.
Many had never sat on a conference call and now they can lead one.
Many had never trained for a single event and now they are fitter than ever.
Many had never climbed a hill and now they have climbed mountains!
For me the summit of Kilimanjaro doesn’t seem like four years ago. It is something that will always linger as a reminder that I can push myself to limits I never thought I could. Through my exhaustion, every rock looked like a pillow. Every step seemed like eternity. Every breath a struggle. With 40% less oxygen on top of Kilimanjaro, it is no wonder why altitude affects nearly everyone who climbs its slopes.
Even more than the altitude, I remember my team. Prue “Peru Peru” leading us to the summit after having not felt well before. Brie and Anna attached at the hip –and willing to give up anything to get each other to the summit. Oh, and then, Jane running (yes, running) to greet them once they came over the final ridge. I remember hugging Chloe for what seemed like an hour at Stella Point, until we realized we had better stop hugging and hike the final hour to the summit. We weren’t quite there yet! Once there she handed me a Mars bar – a gift she had been promising since the 3 Peaks inception in 2004.
So today, I sent the team a bag full of Mars Bars. It is a small token of gratitude and tradition to congratulate them for all of their hard work. They have made an incredible impact on the people and places of East Africa that will not just be seen today, but in many many years to come.
The entire 3 Peaks team is on my mind…44 women, amazing women. Had we all ran a marathon, we might have each raised $1000 – which would have totaled to $44,000, not bad. But instead we all took on a challenge far greater and as an entire team have raised over $680,000. It’s more than impressive. I am blown away. Every individual from 2007, 2009, 2010 and now 2011 has given part of themselves to make this happen. And they have continued giving to ensure that more women join these climbs and make this happen. Thank you to all of our alumni who have been cheering these teams on and showing them we aren’t just 44 women. We are an incredible team.
Together with you, I will wait here anxiously for their text. With all energy being sent in their direction, let us take a moment to congratulate the 2011 team for their extraordinary efforts and massive achievements – both personal achievements and achievements for the communities here in East Africa.
Charlotte, Chris, Holly, Kaitlyn, Kelly, Laura, Louise, Lynne, Sarah, Tara and Val – You are amazing women and together, an amazing team.
P.S. – Yes, we are on Day 19. I messed up the count on Day 5 & 6. But we are back on track. Blame it on low altitude – too much oxygen!