Posted by: Laura Hartstone | 29 January, 2009

The Roof of Africa

While people in Australia were sleeping, others in London were finishing dinner and those  in the USA were enjoying their day, but 13 women in Africa were about to embark on the toughest challenge yet of 3 Peaks 3 Weeks. 

At 11pm Tanzanian time last night Save the Rhino Event Manager Fiona MacLeod and 12 women from the 2009 3 Peaks 3 Weeks team were pulling on layers of thermals, gortex and down jackets and preparing for the final push to the 5,895m summit of Mt Kilimanjaro – the highest freestanding mountain in the world. 

It is very difficult “waking” up at 11pm (after no sleep) to climb for over 7 hours to reach the roof of Africa and watch the sunrise over the plains below.   Even harder still is the fact this is the third time the women have had to do this task.  Over 50 percent of climbers do not have the opportunity to stand on the highest point, due to high altitude and the demanding last push to the summit, but after an exhausting two and a half week led in, these girls have an even tougher challenge and this is where the  past 12 months of tough physical and mental preparation will come into play.

The Summits Africa team make the final summit attempt as pleasant as possible – the girls are escorted by numerous guides who are monitoring the girls very closely and in a position to make a quick turn-around if anyone suffers from the effects of high altitude.  The guides will often sing for the first few hours – incredble African voices carry across the night as the team climb upwards.  So many thoughts will be running through the girls minds – friends and family who who have supported them, donated money to the cause and encouraged them to come this far.  They will also be thinking about each other and supporting each other to reach their goal, but most importantly they will be thinking about the cause in which they are climbing.  Over the past three weeks, these women have visited many communities in Africa and seen first hand the quality of life for those who earn less than $2 a day, often much less!  (At a time like this it puts the economic condition into perspective).  They have met women infected with HIV and seen the impact of human-elephant conflict in Kenya.  They have witnessed the impact education can have on disadvantaged children and seen the passion and dedication behind the organistions 3 Peaks supports. 

All of these thoughts will be racing through their minds as they push for the summit.  Freezing cold, windy and dark, literally one heavy foot in front of the other and thoughts racing..  It is a tough mental challenge.

Kilimanjaro is not to be taken lightly and this morning 11 members of the group (Fiona, Brooke, Luc, Ali, Toni, Leah, Gretchen, Sam, Rachel, Mara and Katherine) stood on the summit on behalf of the 13 who set out and on behalf of all those who support 3 Peaks 3 Weeks.  They also stand on the summit on behalf of the 07 team who are so inspired by their passion to see this event continue and for team 2010 who will be in this position in 12 months time.

Backpack on the Summit of Kilimanjaro

Backpack on the Summit of Kilimanjaro

Our thoughts are with Yvette and Nicole, but they can be very proud of their effort and determination and the dedication they too have shown to 3 Peaks 3 Weeks and the causes that it stands by – it isn’t the destination that is important, it is the journey.

The girls are expected back in Arusha tomorrow (Friday January 30) and are no doubt looking forward to your support and some rest and relaxation. 

Again, we thank everyone for their continued support of 3 Peaks and donations to the causes in which we strive so hard to support.



  1. CONGRATULATIONS! Well done to the entire team for their efforts on everything: fundraising, the charities, and conquering three mountains in three weeks. Absolutely amazing stuff!

    Luce, so glad all your hard work and intensity to achieving this goal has paid off.I hope the summit was incredible, but more importantly the journey that got you there.

    Well done to everyone in achieving such amazing heights

  2. Girls, YOU ROCK! Or rather, YOU MOUNTAIN! I am so pleased for all of you; those that made the summit and those that tried their hardest. Turning back must have been a tough decision but I am sure it was the right one. The important thing is that the 3 Peaks 3 Weeks team made it! Enjoy the moment, and looking forward to hearing all about it. Lots of love, Cathy and all at Rhino HQ. PS: Fi, we always knew you’d do it

  3. Well done Team and well done Fiona ,we knew that you would do it.Nothing keeps the Macleod/Garidis family from doing what they want.Congratulations from all of us,lots of love Auntie Kirsten Uncle Costas and gang xxxx

  4. Congratulations to you all.Your courage and determination in order to support the 3 peak issues in Africa,makes you all unique valuable and very special human beings.
    Lots of love and best wishes.

    Well well well – you made it. Bloomin hard isnt it. Fabulous achievement and well done to all, you must be very proud. Now – youve just got to walk all the way back down 🙂 Just think of the warm shower at the end of it……..

  6. Hey hey hooray!!! Well done all of you – big cheers from the rhino office, and lots of love xxx

  7. Congratulations to the whole group for a wonderful effort. And grateful thanks to the wonderful guides who helped you along the way.

    Yvette: You’ve been inspirational and achieved so much over the past three weeks. I’m so proud of you! As we discussed before you left, the main challenge was fundraising to help the communities sponsored by the program.
    I hope you aren’t too disappointed that you didn’t drag your aching legs to the final summit. I was half fearful that you’d be so b…. determined that you’d push on regardless.
    I’ll be pleased to see you back in Canberra safe & well. Travel safely. Lots of love, Mum

  8. Congratulations Sam, well done!
    Have just had a drink with Dee and Bill at Beckom (42 degrees celius) and wanted to let you know how fantastic we think you all are. Really admire what you have achieved – Beckom is proud of you.

  9. Noodle & Yvette – You did great girls!

    Keep your spirits high – altitude is something you cant train for no matter how much time you put into it. Dont be too deflated. I trust the rest of the team will bear it in mind. You both should be extremely proud of yourselves as we are of you!

  10. FANTASTIC! Congratulations to the entire Team for their outstanding achievements over the past three weeks, the culmination of a year of preparation and fundraising efforts for the causes you support. Brooke, we are all extremely proud of you and all you accomplished this year! What’s next, what will you do for an encore? Many thanks again to Laura, the guides and porters. Congrats also to your “Founding Mother ” Chloe!
    Love Always,
    (PS. Kelly say to stop by when you get down (and bring food this time)).

  11. Fi Fantastic news! We are so proud of you! Well done!
    Congratulations to the entire team for all the effort you have all put in. You have all achieved so much!!… Looking forward, I’m sure, to some nice relaxing hot showers to ease those aching muscles!
    Sent text to Rich, Fi, but he’s also miles in the air, on his flight to NZ.
    Love Mum and Dad XXXXXX

  12. What a great group of women you all are! What a journey you undertook and experienced. So many will benefit from your hard work and sincere efforts. CONGRATULATIONS TO EACH AND EVERYONE. Rachel lots of love to you and have a safe trip home. Momma and Papa

  13. WOW–Congratulations to all of the team and yes to the wonderful guides how helped to get you there safely! Gretchen I am so proud of you and your teammates for this great accomplishment and all that you have done for the people of Africa! This is a life changine experience and I just can’t wait to hear you tell about it. Thanks so much to the person who did this update so that we could all share this with your team!

    I am so proud of you!
    Aunt Judee

  14. Congratulations to an awesome Team, guides and porters. Chills, tears and relief here reading this early this morning. Thanks to Laura for updating an anxious group of family and loved ones. Brooke, so proud of your achievement, and somewhat relieved it is finished. Still trying to figure out what drives some to challenges like this, while others like myself, only watch it in the movies!?!?!?! Wish I could be at the bottom to greet you!! LOVE U! mom

  15. Congratulations, 2009 Team! What an amazing accomplishment!
    To the members that did not make the summit: I commend your courage and discipline to make the decision to NOT go on. It takes great self-control to put your safety and the safety of the team above a summit goal. I applaud you.
    Congrats Brooke! Have a Tusker for me!

  16. OMG-Congratulations Katherine and to the guides and everyone on the team. The summit must have been incredible. I hope the trip down now goes smoothly. I am so relieved and happy for you.
    Kak, you’re amazing! love, Mom

  17. Congrats to Luce and all the team! We’re so excited and proud to hear that you’ve done it! Three peaks in three weeks, raising mountains of funds to help move mountainous problems … what you have done is truly inspirational. love Hugh, Meg, Isabella and Madeleine

  18. Brooke and the team – I know I am a day late here, but IF you get this before you get back… WOW!! I am so so proud of you and I have been reading EVERY day as pormised and I can see exactly why you got involved in the first place. Its been inspirational just to have quick snipits every morning so I cant even imagine the emotions running through the entire team. And I second Laird’s comments to the two that didnt make it. It is no doubt MUCH harder to overcome that mental battle to not continue then the physical one that led the rest of the girls onward, and it will be one that you and your families will be grateful for forever (and btw, the same thing happened to my boyfriend when he was climbing Denali and he has written about 4 grad school essays on the “courage of the decision not to continue” so you trust me, it will come in VERY handy -ha! ;).

    SAFE TRAVELS HOME TO THE ENTIRE TEAM!!! If there is a celebration up in NY let me know bc I am on the train and there in a second!!


  19. I am sitting at my desk seconding Mrs. Vaughan’s question about what makes some of us so courageous, compassionate, and adventurous all at the same time – what an incredible group of women! I am overwhelmingly happy for you all and feel so fortunate to have been connected to this amazing challenge. You all have a fierceness of spirit that has left a permanant mark on Africa.

    Beevo, I am especially thrilled for you. Big kudos and a cherry on the pudding! I can’t wait to toast your accomplishments in person!!

  20. Emotions deeply felt here to read of your summit climb…of all you have accomplished. I applaud each one of you for all you have done that has impacted so many people. Amazing.
    I send my heartfelt gratitude to you all for accomplishing what many would not/could not even try. Thank you.
    Oh if only I could beam myself there at this moment to be there when you complete your descent…
    Know I am there in spirit.
    I love you Leah.

  21. congratulations and good job everyone. love you much and knew you would do it.

  22. Wow, whew and amazing!! Congratulations and blessings to each and every one of you for your team and personal accomplishments. You are in all our hearts this day!!!! Feeling this deeply for you – Way to GO!!!! Skies the limit!!! Much love and light from here in AZ.

  23. WOW, CONGRATULATIONS BROOKE!!!! I’ve been so nervous thinking about you guys these past few days so I have to confess that I’m relieved it’s over and that you are safe and sound – and you did it, what an accomplishment 🙂 Reed and I wish we could be there to greet you at the bottom, that would have been so fun, shame on us for not putting a trip together. Next year, you’re going to join the 2010 team and do it all again, right? 🙂
    Sarah & Reed

  24. I just read through some of the other comments and I wanted to chime in on Jessie’s comment regarding a NYC celebration – if there is one, we’ll be there!! We are truly so proud of you and would be honored to toast you, your team and all your success!!!


  25. Gretchen!!!!! congrats cupcake!!!!!!! Hurry back, Yard House across the office is finally open and waiting with a fresh yarder to enjoy with yah…Congrats again!

    your pal

  26. CONGRATULATIONS to the entire team… Well done girls and I can’t wait to see some pictures of your awesome trip.
    Yvette, my thoughts are with you and I can’t wait to see you soon again (hope you’ll get my email once back in Arusha)… I am so proud of you!!!!
    Nicole, I don’t know you but I am also really proud of your achievements. You, and the entire team, have inspired me so much…

    Charlotte xxx

  27. Congratulations Kak!
    I’m going to miss following this, but can’t wait to get you home so we can hear all the stories.

  28. I’m crying and at a loss for words.
    To Brooke and the Team: All I can say is WOW!!!

  29. What a grand, expansive, joyful, satisfying moment that must have been for you all. You have been inspirational to so many. Congratulations to you all for your personal acheivments. The results of your efforts will live on in the hearts and lives of all you have come in contact with. Thanks for the journey…Peace and Love Jody

  30. CONGRATS TO ALL OF YOU!! Awesome job Toni!

  31. Congratulations to ALL of you. Toni, YOU did it !!! Hope to see you soon.

  32. Dear Gretchen, I can’t imagine how you ladies must feel because I am sitting here in a public
    library crying for all you’ve accomplished. I couldn’t be prouder of you and your teamates.
    Lots of Love, give yourselves lots of hugs you deserve it!

  33. Hi Luce and all the team. What can we say – we are breathless – and we didn’t even do the climb! What a magnificent and symbolic achievement. I tried but I couldn’t see you from the plane at 35,000 feet because the rest of the world got in the way between Chicago and Kili… not to mention the ice and snowstorms yesterday we had here as you were making the climb, but we were all still thinking of you. Love, J, V & A.

  34. Gretchen, congratulations. The feeling of accomplshment you had most people may never have an oppourtunity to have in a life time. Wish you the best! and your team!

  35. Brooke,

    CONGRATS!!! I could not be more proud of you, and of course, like Eri, I am in tears!!! To everyone else, you all amaze us all!!! We can’t wait to hear all of the details!!!!

    Love, Ali

  36. Dear Rachel and Team Mates, Congratulations to all!! What a marvelous journey you embarked on, and what a beautiful achievement for all of you to have given so much of yourselves in this endeavor. It will definitely have a “forever” impact on all of your lives. We are in awe just thinking about the parts of your trip that we are privileged to know about through the updates on the blog, and can hardly wait to hear “the rest of the story”. Love, Aunt JoAnne

  37. Kaki!!! Holy MOLY!! I am so impressed by you and the whole team! Wow. CONGRATS!!

    The view from the top there looks just stunning – and that’s on my tiny Blackberry screen, so I can’t even begin to imagine it in real life. You must be in awe. I am so incredibly proud of you. I’ve literally been bragging about you to anyone who will listen! You should be very proud.
    Amazing job everyone! Get home safe!

    Love, Marg
    P.S. Did mom seriously say OMG?? Haha

  38. CONGRATULATIONS to Ali and all the girls. Absolutely amazing, I am in awe!
    Ali, enjoy the rest of your holiday with mum, dad and your big sister and I look forward to catching up with you and hearing all your stories when you get back to Sydney.

    Love from Julie, Paul, Nick, Marisa & Jake

  39. Great work Rachel and team! I’m so impressed by what you’ve all accomplished in 3 short weeks. Looking forward to hearing about the adventure when you’re safely back in the States’ Rachel.


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