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.
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. http://www.3peaks3weeks.org/donate.htm