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.