For some it was a bit of an emotional day. The past two weeks have gone by fast and it is hard to believe that in just a week they will have completed the challenge. The morning began very early with a 6am wake up call, followed by last minute packing, and a hefty breakfast at the lodge. The Summits crew hasn’t been very concerned with the food intake on the team, as many even pocketed peanut butter and jelly sandwhiches or cheese rolls for a late morning snack. Soon after, they loaded up into the minibus and headed for the Machame gate.
At the gate, the team did last minute shopping – purchasing anything from backpack rain covers to handkerchiefs. They signed in and had a cup of tea before it was time to send them off. It is quite difficult to say good bye to the team and watch them head off for the climb ahead. They have an incredible amount of energy and enthusiasm that is felt by all who have met them in the last few weeks.
Other climbers at the gate paused to take photos of the team and photos of the porters, who all proudly donned their bright white 3 Peaks t-shirts. The porters have pleaded with the head guides to allow them to climb without their shirts as they are now a prized possession. A compromise was made that they can climb in what they like, but must wear the 3 Peaks shirts at camp, which they are happy to do anyhow. Though the 3 Peaks team itself feels like a large group, it is truly a movement up the mountains and felt by all they pass by or meet.
The challenge itself is not easy. The team has made it through massive struggles over the past year. They have held events that have created losses rather than gains. They have managed to maintain communication across over six time zones. It isn’t easy to unite a group of women and hope that they will form a cohesive unit. But they have indeed done just that. And though many begin to get cranky on the mountains when hunger sets in or when the days feel endless, they walked through the gate this morning as a team. Luce’s camelback needed a last minute duct tape repair and the team waited.
They have all reached their minimum fundraising target and many have far surpassed it. They have gained attention on television programs, radio announcements, newspaper articles, and magazines. And perhaps even more admirable, they are using these 3 weeks to not only face their final challenge, the 3 peaks, but to visit the organizations that they are supporting. Though many have felt sick between the climbs and had to visit the hospital or physiotherapist, all have made the extra effort to spend time in villages across East Africa, travel through various conservancies and reserves, schools, national parks, and most importantly, visit first hand with the communties and the people that they are directly and indirectly helping.
The first day is quite long and our thoughts are with them as they head through the dense lower slopes of Kili. Stay strong, Ali, Brooke, Gretchen, Katherine, Leah, Luce, Mara, Nicole, Rachel, Sam, Toni, Yvette…..& Fiona! Go girls! Nail that last one!
And a massive last wave of encouragement from the 2007 3 Peaks team. You are all in our thoughts and we are behind you cheering!!!
Lastly, an update has just come in from the team stating they had torrential rain all day, even though they attempted to start in shorts and sunglasses. Gretchen looked like a hermit in her poncho and raised the fashion stakes to a new level. Good one Gretchen – taking one for the team!
The team says to stay posted for a document on the public toilets, or what they have termed the “hell boxes”. Sam and Brooke will be reporting back on those. However, they are reveling in the excitement of the “plush” camping accommodations as Summits Africa takes porta-potties up Kili on all luxury & VIP climbs…as well as thick mattresses! The team says they were the envy of all other climbing parties as they dined in a large mess tent on the trail for lunch. And having mastered the variety of paces in order to arrive at camp as a team…they all arrived with smiles as well. Keep on!