Posted by: Laura Hartstone | 30 January, 2009

Kilimanjaro – Day 7


After Kenya and Meru, the guides met together to discuss the strategy for Kilimanjaro.  One apsect that would change would be splitting the group into two as they did for the summit attempt.  The other change in plans would be to cancel the school assembly at St Judes that was scheduled for 2pm.  In order to make it, the team would have to wake up incredibly early, hike 8.5km at a quick pace, celebrate shortly, drive over an hour to the hotel to change and shower, get back in the vehicles, drive a half an hour to the school…and do all of this by 2pm. The celebration is not one to miss, but unfortunately after the evaluation, the guides did not see it feasible. Instead, the assembly was canceled and the afternoon celebratory BBQ at the school would be the end finale.

However, while the girls were hiking down from the summit, a different decision was made.  They found it important to be there for the assembly, and told the guides they would be willing to do whatever it would take.  Though the typical start time on the trail is around 9am, the guides informed the girls they would need to be awake and hiking no later than 5am to make it in time.  Without hesitation all agreed.

A text was sent down the mountain to base camp – and St Judes quickly emailed all of their head teachers to let them know the assmebly would be on! In order to make this happen, all 13 girls would have had to agree … meaning we have quite the dedicated team!

A message came in around 7:30pm from the girls, again a bit jumbled, but in brief stating:

– Freezing snow until 10:30pm on summit night

– Half left at 11:30pm, the other half left at 12:30am

– The guides sang all the way to the summit helping to push on the team and keep them putting one foot in front of the other

– Overwhelming views

– All are impacted by altitude

– Staggered Summits (likely meaning they were able to see many of East Africa’s mountains from the roof of Africa

-Many tears and emotions!

– Made the summit for an unbelievable sunrise

– The hike up took 6-7 hours

– Fun, fast, descent down slopes of scree

– Muddy, slippery descent into camp

– Playing hacky sack with the porters

– Will be looking into a spa sponsorship for next years team (anyone with connections there would be greatly appreciated)

-…And lastly…will be on the trail no later than 5am.

The Summits crew has left town early to meet the girls at the bottom of the mountain.  The team has made a monumental accomplishment and all of us watching from below are living vicariously through them. It is time to celebrate and have a look back over the past year of hard work, and the past 3 weeks of challenge, after challenge, after challenge. Congratulations team 2009 – you have not only completed the challenge, but you have impacted the lives of thousands of people – and inspired millions more.

An update from the team will come in the next day or so along with photos from the Kilimanjaro.


  1. Heavens team: I’m feeling quite tearful reading these blogs. You will get such a reception at St Jude’s and it’ll make your triiumph all the sweeter. Seeing the work of the Laikipia Wildlife Forum, St Jude’s and SIC firsthand has obviously inspired you all – and the rest of us following your progress – and you deserve to feel absolutely great about what you’ve accomplished. xxCathy and team at Rhino HQ

  2. Team 3P3W’s: You are all so dedicated and awesome! We hope you have an idea of how proud your family’s are of each of you. You are each a special person on this big beautiful earth and time and again you show your families and now you have shown the world. We love you and wish you all safe journeys. Rachel, we can hardly wait to hear your voice and hear your stories.
    dad and mom

  3. To 2009 team: Well done. Can you even imagine all the tears of joy across the globe from all that read this blog? I am so impressed but not at all surprised by your decision to attend the assembly. I am sure all of us on the blog wish we were at the base camp for your return. Brooke, you are amazing. Wish you could bring the entire team home with you! Love, mom

  4. to nicole and yvette,
    well done girls, your families are so proud of you, it is not the summit that counts, it is the journey there and the heart that you put into it.
    congrats to the remainder of the team, now to rest and celebrate!
    nicoles mum.

  5. Awesome & Inspiring!
    I can’t wait to see Toni’s photos…

  6. To the whole team from Rhino HQ: We’ve just done an update on all the money raised in the US, UK and Australia, and it looks as if, by the time all the money is in, you shall have raised an awesome £79,000 for the three causes. This is almost double what we originally predicted and is a quite astonishing achievement. On behalf of the LWF, St Jude’s, SIC and Save the Rhino, thank you all for putting such a tremendous effort into this challenge. Have a wonderful celebration tonight!

  7. It moves me so to read of your experiences.
    I congratulate each one of you thirteen incredible women for what you have completed…for your dedication and determination, for your generosity and selflessness.
    I look forward to seeing pics when they post.
    Again, to Laura, thank you so much for this. Hug for you from me.
    Rest, celebrate, and know that what you’ve accomplished here is monumental!
    To Leah-tight squeeze and outpouring of love.

  8. What an inspiration you all are. This has been an incredible journey for me, living vicariously, through your blogs. This accomplishment will follow you throughout your lives, YOU CAN DO ANYTHING!!
    Congratulations and now have some more fun, rest, and recoup! Love and Blessings, Cathy O’Connell

  9. I’m tearful and overjoyed at the same time – you are all awesome!!! How incredible you are as a team and with such a strong vision and commitment!! The children of St Jude’s, LWF and SIC will be singing your praises and won’t forget what you have done!! We won’t either – hugs around to everyone and enjoy a much deserved R&R. To Leah and Toni, you know you are in our hearts in a special way for bringing us all there with you!!!! Onward…….wiith love and blessings, Cindy
    p.s. Lolo – you rock as the blogster translator!!!!

  10. Hi Rachel, What a fantastic acheviement , I no how proud you all are. No you have made some very special friends and memories that will allways be with you. Were so proud Love Grandma and Grandpa Burwell.

  11. WoW!! I just can not say enough times how impressed I am with this accomplishment by all of you but especially Gretchen! You have always gone after what you want in life but this is amazing! God will bless you all for what you have done to help these people…that help and those memories will go on forever.

    through my proud tears….
    Aunt Judee

  12. Fantastic effort Sam, and congratulations to the whole team, you are a fabulous group of girls. Cant wait to see the photos and listen to all your stories Sam(may take a day or two!!) Lots of love Mum and Dad

  13. Sam Im waiting for you to come home and pick me up to take me back to Sydney, its to hot here! love LLoyde (the cat)

  14. Reed and I wish you a big congrats we are having a drink and toasting to you now! While we have been slaves to our jobs these past few weeks you have accomplished so much more we are so proud to call you our friend 🙂
    Lots of love and another big congrats!
    Sarah and Reed

  15. Dear Nicole,

    Thought and worried about you constantly, we are so proud and pleased you are ok, you have achieved so much, well done to everyone, enjoy the celebrations, you’re mum and dad can rest easy now,
    lotsa luv from everyone in Newcastle, xxxx

  16. Hey Yvette

    Well done honey, very proud of you. You have made such an extraordinary effort. Happy Birthday one to remember hey. ZoZo an me have been checking on you regularly. Take a big breath and rest well, you deserve it. See you soon when you come home.

    lots of love Lou Rocket kids an others oxoxoxoxo

  17. Girls, well done!!!! What an example you are to all in Africa as well as to us here in the US and Australia. These types of challenges and victories should be in every newspaper in the world!!! rather than the criminal exploits… What a blessing and an inspiration you have been!!! Thank you for the incredible journey you have given to all of us.

  18. Hi Yvette,
    Belated Happy Birthday wishes from us all here! Hoping you enjoy the next stage of your travels, thinking of you, congratulations, your achievements are awesome, take care and safe trip home,
    love Anna and co.

  19. I love your site!

    Experiencing a slow PC recently? Fix it now!


%d bloggers like this: