Posted by: Laura Hartstone | 28 January, 2011

Day 19 – The Last Sleep


It’s a sunny day, not unlike any other, but it somehow seems still. Perhaps it is just the Peaks Foundation team holding their breath as we await word from the 3 Peaks team. I have only received one message from the guides, and thankfully, it stated that the whole team is doing well and pushing on.

Louise, Sarah and Laura

But I think I know how they are feeling. My guess is that they have all arrived at Barafu Camp (4600m – 15091ft) by now, perched ever so carefully on a ridgeline below the trail to the summit (5896m – 19343ft). They are likely standing around in down jackets and beanies, sipping cups of hot chocolate and snacking on popcorn, sharing jokes and taking in the views of Mount Meru off in the distance. I imagine they are reminiscing and at the same time making memories.

Tara, Charlotte and Holly

I had an email from 2010 team member, Belinda “Boo” Lees today that said:

The past few weeks have been incredibly nostalgic, so many flashbacks, and memories, but for me not only of the 3 weeks in Africa, but of the 18 month journey beforehand – that really changed my life in a way that I never imagined.

I couldn’t have said it better. I mean, after all, I never believed I would be sitting here writing a blog for the FOURTH annual climb!!! I am trembling. I know for the team, this next 24 hours is one they will remember forever, and I hope they, too, look back at the past year and feel that sense of accomplishment.

Val and Lynne

Many had never raised a dollar and in such a short time raised thousands.

Many had never sat on a conference call and now they can lead one.

Many had never trained for a single event and now they are fitter than ever.

Many had never climbed a hill and now they have climbed mountains!

Chris, Kaitlyn and Kelly

For me the summit of Kilimanjaro doesn’t seem like four years ago. It is something that will always linger as a reminder that I can push myself to limits I never thought I could. Through my exhaustion, every rock looked like a pillow. Every step seemed like eternity. Every breath a struggle. With 40% less oxygen on top of Kilimanjaro, it is no wonder why altitude affects nearly everyone who climbs its slopes.

3P3W Team 2007

Even more than the altitude, I remember my team. Prue “Peru Peru” leading us to the summit after having not felt well before. Brie and Anna attached at the hip –and willing to give up anything to get each other to the summit. Oh, and then, Jane running (yes, running) to greet them once they came over the final ridge. I remember hugging Chloe for what seemed like an hour at Stella Point, until we realized we had better stop hugging and hike the final hour to the summit. We weren’t quite there yet! Once there she handed me a Mars bar – a gift she had been promising since the 3 Peaks inception in 2004.

So today, I sent the team a bag full of Mars Bars. It is a small token of gratitude and tradition to congratulate them for all of their hard work. They have made an incredible impact on the people and places of East Africa that will not just be seen today, but in many many years to come.

3P3W Team 2009

The entire 3 Peaks team is on my mind…44 women, amazing women. Had we all ran a marathon, we might have each raised $1000 – which would have totaled to $44,000, not bad. But instead we all took on a challenge far greater and as an entire team have raised over $680,000. It’s more than impressive. I am blown away. Every individual from 2007, 2009, 2010 and now 2011 has given part of themselves to make this happen. And they have continued giving to ensure that more women join these climbs and make this happen. Thank you to all of our alumni who have been cheering these teams on and showing them we aren’t just 44 women. We are an incredible team.

3P3W Team 2010

Together with you, I will wait here anxiously for their text. With all energy being sent in their direction, let us take a moment to congratulate the 2011 team for their extraordinary efforts and massive achievements – both personal achievements and achievements for the communities here in East Africa.

3P3W Team 2011

Charlotte, Chris, Holly, Kaitlyn, Kelly, Laura, Louise, Lynne, Sarah, Tara and Val – You are amazing women and together, an amazing team.


Climb on.

P.S. – Yes, we are on Day 19. I messed up the count on Day 5 & 6. But we are back on track. Blame it on low altitude – too much oxygen!



  1. Fabulous update, Laura! I’m anxiously awaiting for word that we’ve successfully done it again! You girls have so much to be proud of and we look forward to welcoming you as the newest Peaks alumni in just 24 hours!! CLIMB ON.

  2. Today 11 of Peaks Alumni are on Mt. Kilimanjaro. The highest mountain in Africa, hiking for a huge health issue on planet Earth; HIV/AIDS. For me that experience was one of the biggest rushes I’ve ever had! Let’s each send them strength, health and positive energy as they get closer to the summit each hour! We have all been there, we know what it’s like to walk that trail in the dark, and then see the light as the sun rises at Stella Point. Enjoy this week’s quote and meditation.

    “Individual commitment to a group effort — that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work.” ~ Vince Lombardi

    Lots of times in life, people say… well what can “I” do, I am just one. Does one vote really matter? Can just me showing up make a difference? Can one voice really be heard? I am a huge believer that yes, one vote, one person’s actions, one voice can change the world.

    It’s like the parable of the starfish. When once upon a beach thousands of starfish had been washed up during a terrible storm. When a little child came to each starfish, she would pick it up, and throw it back into the ocean. People watched her with amusement.

    She had been doing this for some time when a man approached her and said, “Little girl, why are you doing this? Look at this beach! You can’t save all these starfish. You can’t begin to make a difference!”

    The girl seemed crushed, suddenly deflated. But after a few moments, she bent down, picked up another starfish, and hurled it as far as she could into the ocean. Then she looked up at the man and replied,

    “Well, I made a difference to that one!

    Ordinary people can change the world with a little commitment and purpose. You all know this, you’ve all been thru 3 Peaks! The change we have each made in people’s lives thru the charities The Peaks Foundations supports. All the farmers and pastoralists at Laikipia, little 11 year old Pascal at the School of St. Jude, 20 year old Frieda and her 2 year old Son Noah at SIC… Continue to make a difference every day thru random acts of kindness, awareness, education and daring to be different. Break the mold, be the best you can be and do not ever let anyone tell you that YOU CAN NOT!

    One CAN make a difference!

    Go Team 2011 Go! Enjoy the summit and can’t wait to hear about it on the flip side!

    Sending All my support,
    Sarah Winters Papsun, 2010: 3 peaks team member
    IB-lieve Ambassador

  3. Team 2011, I sit here and imagine your bodies laboring to breath deeply, trying to fill your lungs with enough air to quench your thirst for oxygen, as each of you expends energy to make the final accent of Kili. At the same time I know that each of you understands that the pain, the anxiety and fear that comes with altitude pails in comparison to that which comes with being diagnosed with HIV/AIDs, or returning home to a life where the bare necessities of existance are a luxury. All of you have sacrificed for great humanitarian causes and this will never be forgotten, especially by those who’s lives you have made better through your hard work. I anxiously await the note that says the summit has been reached!! Love and God Bless all of you!!! 🙂 Sarah Kaczor’s dad

  4. Awesome update Laura – so nostalgic for this time last year (and the triple A after party :)) Best of luck for the final push, you guys rock xx

  5. Laura, thank you for this post. The photos really help to put a face to the name as we wait for “the word”. Wish I could be there waiting with you. All our cyber friends are there with you in spirit. We will cry and celebrate with you once our girls have reached the top of Kilimanjaro.
    Hope to hear from you soon. XXOOMOM

  6. Lovely to get the update, thank you Laura. Well, the final push – we have no doubt you will succeed, you’ve been a star team. If I wake up at 3am, as I often do, rather than cursing insomnia, I’ll lie there and think of you all reaching the summit, and all the elation you’ll feel after such a long build up to this success. Can’t wait for the update tomorrow. Lots of love to you all, Cathy and the team at Save the Rhino

  7. Well done 3 Peaks 3 Weeks 2011. We are thinking of you tonight. Enjoy the views from the top and give yourselves a well deserved pat on the back.

  8. love and light….thoughts and prayers….hugs and smiles….all with you as you make your final climb….what an amazing accomplishment for you all… from nj and chris’ family….love the russells

  9. Laura, Just when I think your posts cannot get any better, you outdo yourself!

    This quote is not about motivation, “going for it”, or perseverance, as Team 2011, individually, and as a group, seems to have everything related absolutely nailed.

    Based on text updates from Lynne, and Laura’s enlightening and inspiring posts, this quote is about friendship, both for each other, and for Africa.

    “We cannot tell the precise moment when friendship is formed. As in filling a vessel drop by drop, there is at last a drop which makes it run over. So in a series of kindness there is, at last, one which makes the heart run over.” James Boswell

  10. Lots of love to you girls!! et petit message pour ma Sis’: les Experts sont en finale de la coupe du monde de Handball, woot, woot!!! Les français sur le toit du monde peu-être dimanche et toi et tes co-équipières sur le toit de l’Afrique dans quelques heures… Moi j’dis : Champagne!!!
    Des bisous!

  11. Laura, Since a mountain the size of Kili makes its own weather, especially near the top, good forecasts are tricky. But do you have some kind of a feel about how favorable (or not) conditions might be?

  12. I’m biting my nails and cheering! Love you Aunt Lynne! Go Team 2011! What a breath taking journey you have taken us on.


  14. Congratulations to the women of 3P3W!! ..and much love to Valerie R. from all your friends and peeps here in SF!! -I cant even begin to fathom the tremendous effort and energy put forth into this mission. Last night I attended a closing reception for a group art exhibition here in San Francisco that some friends were involved with.

    The show was a tribute to the music and life of Fela Kuti. As I walked through the show admiring the brightly colored canvases and listening to the pulse of the drum circle, I thought of the 3P3W team & everything they got to see. The land, the people, the colors, the music. Quick glimpses of life through a bus window, as well as tremendous and life altering views from the top of mountains.

    I thought of them reaching the top of the last mountain Kili with the sun rising and everyone smiling maybe even weeping with joy? Much love and respect to all the women involved and a big tip of the hat for your goal toward humanity. Hope your ready Val cause we are poppin’ some bottles when you get back to the Bay!!

    -Charlie Mirador San Francisco Ca

  15. Enjoyed the pictures…thank you for the post..anxious to hear the final wishes to you all!!

  16. Congratulations to all for a climb well done,with all its trials and tribulations.I am sure you all have bonded for life.i am sure you will live the next chapter of your lives,with a whole new philosophy,strength,motivatation.
    Anxious to see you and hear your story.Loveya,Kaitlyn


  17. Congrats girls!!! You’re almost there!! Can’t wait to see the pictures from the top and all your smiles. You have accomplished sooo much, you should be proud!

  18. Can not wait any longer. I be needing to sleep @___. Know you are close to the top and wish you a grand celebration!!! XXOOMOM

  19. Sunrise in Arusha was at 6:38 AM (9:38 PM CST), so hopefully, they have already made it. We are now likely just waiting for the Sat Phone msg from Summit to Laura, and for Laura to get something up as a Post.

    PS Laura, I bet I speak for others in saying that first post can be a straight msg relay with no other text or photos.

  20. Have been breathing hard and deep for you all. Heart is thumping and I’m try to imagine minus degrees while I sit here in blazing heat just 60kms away! So thrilled for you all. See you tomorrow evening! Kim

  21. To Val (and all your companions),
    Congratulations on reaching the summit of Kilimanjaro! We have been following every day’s activities with delight and anticipation. We can only imagine what climbing to the “roof of Africa” must be like. You and the other women of 3Peaks3Weeks have not just accomplished your physical goals in an amazing way, you have made the world a better place. Of all your amazing accomplishments in meeting all these challenges, that is the one of which we are most proud. We can’t wait to hear from you directly.
    Dad and Mom


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