Alpine Ascents Kilimanjaro 2001 Cybercast
Trip #4 Cybercast: (Trips #1 - 3 below)
8/31/01 2:53pm, Tarangire National Park, Tanzania
Well today on the last day of August, I'm going to give you the final dispatch from this fourth Alpine Ascents Kilimanjaro Climb and Safari of this season, and for this group who is still savoring it's success. We've already split up, Don and Tracy and Hynek and Vernon fly out of Nairobi tonight, which is a long ways away, so with Sebastian, the safari guide and Tobias, they left after breakfast this morning to enjoy viewing some more wildlife on the way out of Tarangire Park and then begin their journey back to Nairobi. The rest of us are fortunate enough to have a little more relaxed schedule, I just finished having a nice lunch with the entire group, we had a barbeque out by the pool as we traditionally do here at the Tarangire Sopa Lodge, after the group did a game drive through this fabulous park this morning.
I sat next to Keith Wilson, my good friend who, he and I dreamed up this trip for him to come back to Kilimanjaro more than a year and a half ago while we were on Kili, and he told me way back then, and he told me way back then that it had to fall, if we were going to do it this summer, it had to fall between Erin and Bryn's birthdays. His daughter Bryn is going to have a birthday on September 3rd and Erin's is back in July, so he misses those girls, but they're watching the internet to see how the trip's going and he's on his way home soon.
The rest of us, Erin, David, Britton, Martin, who's going back to England, Ryan, Leila, Mike, Steve, Derek and myself are just kind of savoring it all. It's warm out here, we watched these beautiful multi-colored pale birds called Lilac-Breasted Rollers, we also watched this small bird called Superb Starling, flicking around the pool as we had our lunch. Soon we we're going to be driving back through the expanses of Tarangire Park, on our way back to Arusha. There's sweet time of course, everybody will be out of Africa soon, but the accomplishment of climbing up on to those glaciers and standing at the top of Africa at 19,340 feet is going with us all. So everyone's heading home, I think proud, I think exhausted and I think full of memories that it will be hard to even begin to know how to share when they get back to the states.
8/30/01 9:16am, Ngorongoro, Tanzania
Okay its the 30th of August, a long ways from Kilimanjaro where I last talked to you from, after our successful climb. This call is from the floor of the Ngorongoro Crater. It's about 9:15 in the morning, kind of cool I'd say, we're all wearing our jackets, having a little picnic breakfast, we dropped down into the crater just past 6am this morning, so about the first two hours we were down here, we no other vehicles except the Serengeti Lion Research Project vehicles. We also saw a rhino a little after we got down here, and saw some lions and before long we saw the other Land Rovers begin to show up, of course Ngorongoro is popular place. Now we're relaxing taking a little breakfast. I sitting here with Usea, the safari guide, Adam, Sebastian, and you won't believe this, probably, I'm also sitting here with Tobias, who has been as you well know, the Alpine Ascents chief guide on Kili for years now, and Tobias is on Safari with us. Probably the highlight of yesterday's trip was the visit to the Masai Village, I getting some nods of approval. We had a really interesting hour and a half at the end of our day visiting a Boma, or Masai village. Adam, one of our guides is Masai, we also had a fellow named Edward from the village we visited, who showed us around, we went into the huts and learned a lot about how Masai people live. We gave Adam, we kidded him about being a city Masai, next to Edward and his red blanket who lives out here, and is the local Masai as we say.
So today we're going to continue, Leila was just commenting, "Well, I've seen plenty already" but the only problem is it's about 9 o'clock in the morning and we've got a few more hours down here in the crater and then we've got a long drive back across the Rift Valley and into Tarangire National Park, where we'll be this afternoon, the home of some of the best elephant families in all of Africa to see and learn about how the elephants live. And of course what we've go waiting for us down there in Tarangire finally, is some hot weather. So we're looking forward to today, it's going to be a long one, but we've got comfortable vehicles, experienced drivers and really only one more full day of safari on this Alpine Ascents climb and safari adventure. So we're going to make the most of it and we'll call you when we get to Tarangire.
8/27/01 8:46am, Uhuru Point, Tanzania
Okay I think I should follow up with one last summit phone call because I left you hanging with the phone calls and the radio calls coming fast and furious a while ago. I can report to you that we did in fact as a team have complete success on Kili this year. At about 10 minutes till 8, Tracy reached Stella Point, I found that out on the radio. And then I started back, the others as you know had already begun descending, and I started back, and Don and Leila found out what Wally Berg gets like when he's agitated and worried about people, I was a little surprised to see them still coming towards the summit. But I saw a lot of strength in Don's legs, and I saw a lot of will and determination in Leila's face, so I just turned around and followed them back up here. And this is the latest I've been on Uhuru in a while, but that's okay because we've got brilliant sunshine and Don's laid out on his back, but he's plenty strong, and Leila's laid out on her back too, but I'm sure she's going to do fine.
Mark, my fellow guide is looking at me like "Okay Bwano, when are we going to get going, we've got to get off this mountain." and he's right we should probably go now. But I'm happy to report that we all made it to the crater rim and above on this trip, it was a long morning, I'm exhausted myself, don't think that when do this thing over and over it gets much easier. But when you head down it's still a long ways to go, but we've all got the satisfaction of knowing we stood on the top of Africa, we did it as a team, we've got a long slow descent, we're going to do it safely, and remember when we get out in those safari parks, which are a long ways from here, our trip is far from over. We're going to continue to report to you about the adventures that we find, but I'm happy to say that it will all be in the context of all of us climbing to 19,000 feet and enjoying a beautiful summit on Kilimanjaro today.
8/27/01 7:18am, Uhuru Point, Tanzania
Okay it's Wally Berg calling you on the 27th with a really good report. I am calling you from the top of Kilimanjaro, from Uhuru. And I'm really happy to tell you that at 6:20 this morning if you can believe it, Erin, Britton, Derek, Vernon, Keith, Martin, Mike, David, Steve, Ryan, Hynek, myself and James the Chagga guide all stepped onto the summit of Uhuru, that was at 6:20 this morning, and some moments after we stepped onto Uhuru, we saw that big golden globe pop up on the eastern horizon, we actually saw the sun rise from the summit. So that was 11 of the climbing members, plus myself and James, John, my Chagga guide, came up a little behind, having shot ahead from our rear group today, which consists of Tracy, Don and Leila, and they're back there as I speak right now, and there still continuing towards Uhuru, I hope, with Tobias and Mark, that's a group of five still coming towards the summit. I'm going to try and get radio contact with them and report to you on their progress, but it's a beautiful morning, I hope you can hear me for the wind, we got good photographs up here, the others have started down and I'm watching and waiting for the others.
Okay it's Wally again, I just want to keep you updated, it's about 7:20 right now, and I have been in radio contact with my guide Mark, and he's on Stella Point, I can look across some distance and see him. And he said please stand by ten minutes and "Mama," (I'm sure by that he meant Leila and/or Tracy) "Mama will be here" So I'm going to stand by for radio contact, I'm going to call to those folks for getting to Stella Point, Who knows maybe they'll push on to the summit. I'm going to clear now on the satellite phone, so I can stay in touch with them and I'll keep you posted on their progress towards the summit. Once again, 11 of those members are descending with two guides, John and James, and I'm waiting on Uhuru to see what Don and Leila and Tracy are going to do.
8/26/01 2:23pm, Cosolo Camp, Tanzania
Well it's the 26th of August and here we are. We are at high camp. Cosolo, 16,700 feet. Leila, Erin, Tracy, Don, Vernon, Hynek with his borrowed gear, Martin from the UK, Keith who first came up with this plan with me over a year and a half ago on an Everest Base Camp Trek, Eric, Mike, David, Steve, Britton, and Ryan. All of us are up here. I have to say that the entire list of people I just read off, look quite acclimatized, I'm not saying there's not a headache or two and a kind of spacy feeling that we all experience when we go to the higher altitudes, is sometimes present, but this group looks very healthy.
The group has been talking through our trek across the mountain, about adventure, about the journey, the way adventure is something you take on with a spirit and your imagination leads you there and then it becomes bigger and you have to see it through. In particular, Tracy was just talking to me moments ago about how it really does seem a journey, it already seems long and huge, the trip we've undertaken across Kilimanjaro. Each day has been a big challenge, bigger really than we tonight. We've overcome obstacles, challenges along the way and then there's just more awaiting you, certainly tomorrow's our big one. It's going to be really rewarding to finally start up with these people about 12:45am tomorrow, I'll call you on the way up.
Britton in particular, I think on this trip, his journey has been long. The youngest member of our group, but I think about him, because this will be, if he is successful tomorrow, the fourth of his seven summits this year, having climbed Aconcagua, Denali, and just a few weeks ago, Elbrus, with Alpine Ascents. It's interesting, the most experienced guy in terms of mountaineering on the trip as well as the youngest, he's also the guy who seems to have the most modest attitude about acclimatization, he keeps saying "I hope I do well," I think he knows how to give the mountain it's due. And that experience is going to pay well for him tomorrow and if we can all learn from his experience, be humble, push yourself hard, and hope the mountain thinks it's your day, and take all you have in terms of effort up there with you, and you'll come away happy, satisfied with yourself and perhaps you'll reach the summit. That's the spirit we're all going to undertake this with and the Chagga guides, Mark and James, John, Tobias and myself are going to be there to support the folks every step of the way, we've got a really strong team, we're going to have a great time, we're going to push hard, and we'll call you from Uhuru, the top of Africa
8/25/01 11:03am, Barranco Camp, Tanzania
Today on the 25th of August, I'm calling you from the top of the Barranco Wall and this exceptionally mild clear weather that I have been describing, that this group has had, is continuing. If anything the weather is more back to normal in terms of the thick clouds below us, which you've heard me describe always on the Kili cybercasts. The floor of clouds reaching across to Mt. Meru, over 15,000 feet, off to the southwest of where we are now. It was David just a few moments ago, who said, "I must have about 30 or 40 pictures of Mt. Meru." It is a very constant sight to us, the floor of clouds stretching across to Mt. Meru. Below those clouds are of course the farms where all that wonderful produce that I sometimes describe that we have for our meals are. I know when you think of Kilimanjaro, you think of the giraffes and the elephants kind of loping along and there's a barren slope reaching up to the summit. Actually it's not that way at all, below us, beneath those clouds, the clouds lifted last night briefly, and someone said "There's a sea of lights out there." I described when we went in looking for gear for Hynek in the big city of Moshi, the big agricultural city, the slopes of Kilimanjaro are actually one of the most populous areas in all of Tanzania. These Chagga men who work for us, live on the farms in this region, and surprisingly to most people, they've never been out to those great safari parks, that we're going to visit later, Ngorongoro Crater, Tarangire, and of course some people get to go all the way out to the Serengeti. These places are a long ways are a long ways from here, and transportation is very expensive. The type of vehicles that we use to get out there are not really accessible to these men who live on the slopes of Kilimanjaro, these Chagga men.
This entire group looks really strong, continues to look strong, good weather helps of course, I just turned around and now I am looking away from Mt. Meru and that floor of clouds, I'm looking up at the shimmering glaciers above, of course, they're reaching more than 6,000 feet directly above me, up to the crater rim, and of course Uhuru, our goal, looms just behind. This entire group looks ready for this, I'm sure they're all able, going to do fine, we always approach a climb like this with humility. It has to be our day, and the mountain has to say it's right for us, but with luck, we're going to continue our acclimatization a couple more days and we're going to be at high camp and be in position to climb to the rooftop of Africa.
8/24/01 12:18pm, between Shira and Barranco, Tanzania
It's the 24th of August and I'm calling you from that lunch spot that I often give you a cybercast from above 14,000 feet on our traverse between the Shira Camp and the camp at the Base of the Great Barranco Wall. The first thing I have to mention in this cybercast is how very different this scene is at this spot, than it was two weeks ago when I was here with the last group. You may remember the last time, it was snowing hard, people had been hiking all day in pretty much full battle gear, in the wind and snow, the gloves big hats, parkas, the whole thing, and I was squatting here giving the cybercast with the Chagga guides James and Mark holding a poncho over me to keep snow from falling on the phone. Today, much in contrast to that it has been very sunny and warm all day. This group seems to be blessed with very warm weather, and much clearer weather than the last group had, we watched those big glaciers moving above us as we walked up closer to Kibo throughout the morning.
We have a good time walking, we spread out and take our time, In particular, Leila, Tracy, Don and Vernon always hang to the rear and take lots of photos, they're not slower than the rest of us, they just take their time. I checked in with them once this morning and I know that one thing that is on her mind is that today is her son Sean's 15th birthday. A lot of other folks have been commenting about their families, especially I noticed Erin, who has that perpetual smile that I described that Todd Bailey had on the last trip, she grins more than anybody. She was talking about how she hadn't felt like she had been away from work like this in ten years. And she and all the others are talking about the training and time and preparation the dreaming that went into this trip and here's the payoff. But at the same time, thoughts about family and friends, workmates back home, these conversations come up all the time with everybody. And here we are right in the middle of this traverse across one of the great mountains in the world, Kilimanjaro. I couldn't tell you how great everyone feels with this clear blue sky above, everyone seems to be quite well acclimatized and we're right in the middle of our adventure. Hoping for the best on summit day, but as we keep mentioning day to day when we have conversations, the main point being just savoring each one of these days for all its worth. This is a great mountain.
8/23/01 12:42pm, Picnic Rock, Tanzania
On the 23rd of August, I'm calling you from what you may remember we call Picnic Rock. It's midway between the Machame Camp and the Shira Camp, where we'll be tonight, the Shira Camp of course is at 12,300 feet. We have had unusually warm weather, I didn't' even bother to put on a jacket over my t-shirt when we stopped up here for lunch a while ago. We've enjoyed continuing views of Kibo all day, and especially a view across the top of the clouds to Mt. Meru, it's been spectacular all day. We're up here eating avocado, tomato and cheese and cucumber sandwiches and other delicacies at our little picnic table here. Everyone's looking really healthy and motivated, I'd say. The sunscreen is being lathered on as I speak, so if weather is any indication, this group's off to a great start. We're going to be at the Shira Camp probably by 2:30 this afternoon. It's a big difference to start out from a camp at 9:00 in the morning after you've had a nice breakfast and looked at some maps in the sun. And leaving a hotel like we did yesterday, and riding in Land Rovers, and checking in with the Park Service and all of that. So the first full day on the mountain with this group of 15 of us, on this last Alpine Ascents climb of the season. We're off to a great start on the first full day and we're going to keep you posted as the days tick along.
8/22/01 11:31am, Machame Gate, Tanzania
I'm calling you on the 22nd of August from the Machame Gate at 5,600 feet, the entrance to Kilimanjaro National Park and the Machame Trail That we're going to use. And here we go, with Alpine Ascents' Fourth Kilimanjaro climb and safari of this summer season in the US, but of course here just south of the equator in Tanzania, it's what we call winter. Although it's still the long days that you always have with a consistent sunrise throughout the year here on Kilimanjaro and this region.
Not the smoothest start in the world, especially for Hynek, who had, what has turned out to be over the years, a fairly frequent occurrence, the airlines did lose his bag. As is almost always the case, we can figure it out, and in this particular case, we had contributions of gear from the other 13 members of Hynek's group. And Hynek and I and Mike and one of the safari drivers named Edward, a Masai guide named Edward, drove into the village of Moshi today and we hired or rented some equipment to sort of round out Hynek's supplies. So we're not going to worry about when the airline gets his bags here, by the time he gets back and starts the safari, they'll be here, so we got what we need as a team to climb this mountain. Hynek's attitude and spirit of adventure, just sort of making the best of it, will serve him well, he's had a few things to worry about. So that's just a little glitch, and here we go.
That trip into Moshi, for the four of us I mentioned, was interesting. We won't see Moshi, the rest of the group, until we come off the mountain, as we traverse to the east around Kilimanjaro we'll get to a point where we will have to drive back through Moshi. It was fun driving in there today, much bigger city than a lot of people imagine. About 180,00 people live in the area, it's and agricultural community so there is no big developed city center. But you can pretty much get anything you need in Moshi. We are of course in the clouds, no view of Kilimanjaro, kind of the normal situation down in the rich agricultural land. We'll begin hiking today up through that misty cloud forest that you know well, that you've heard about in cybercasts over the years from Kilimanjaro. And then by tomorrow with luck we'll be up at the Shira level, and we'll be above those clouds for the rest of the trip. So we'll keep reporting to you daily, once again, all 15 members of this Alpine Ascents climb, including myself, are excited to be going, stretch our legs after the international travel, and we'll report every day about how our progress is going.
Trip #3 Cybercast: (Trips #1 & #2 below)
8/17/01 5:00pm, Arusha, Tanzania
Well as I told you yesterday I wanted to call you one more time, now it's the 17th of August and the last full day in Tanzania for this entire group of 16 Alpine Ascents Climbers. As you know, incredibly successful trip. Sometimes I call this safari that we do at the end of our climb, "The best five-day safari in the world," I mean that. It's hard to imagine a better thing to do after a climb and a better set of parks to visit throughout Northern Tanzania. I call it a five-day safari, because even though we do it in three days, the pace we go to keep up to make all these parks in three days, it's pretty rough, it's pretty dusty, but it's an adventure as we say. Yesterday I saw some very weary folks arrive in Tanzania, but today I think what I've mainly seen is sort of a poignant bittersweet mood as people realize that they are about to leave Africa. This morning's safari, one of the highlights was a lioness that each of the three Land Rovers got to watch for a while. JoAnn in particular had a beam on her face as she talked about watching the beautiful female lion and taking a lot of photographs. We took off after lunch to return to Arusha.
Two of the three vehicles made some comments about being non-photography vehicles, meaning 'we've had enough of this business, let's just get out of here.' My vehicle, with Kevin and David and Peter and some of the more die-hard camera fans were looking for a giraffe. Actually everyone commented, "We didn't get any good photos of a giraffe" And then of course, just as we drove out of the Tarangire Sopa Lodge, there was a giraffe right in the middle of the road. Then we watched a troop of baboons for a long time, elephants everywhere as always, in Tarangire, burned up the last of our film. And this group I'm pleased to report, finally, after for myself, almost 6 weeks in Tanzania, it finally got hot in Africa. You know from previous dispatches I've talked mostly about the surprisingly cool weather, it's always like that in July/August, but this time of year it's starting to warm up a bit. And finally down in Tarangire in the lowlands, we had not warm, but honest to God hot weather and I think everybody enjoyed it. Ken's going back home to Florida and I saw him standing out in this hot weather today in his shorts finally, acting like he was where he belonged. And certainly Africa has offered us a lot of surprises and a lot of challenges and now as everyone goes home, they will savor their accomplishments.
8/16/01 6:57pm, Tarangire National Park, Tanzania
Well it's rough it's dusty, but it's an adventure, that's our theme as we take off on these safaris after a climb. And I would have to say that rough and dusty part has been one of those Kilimanjaro understatements for the last couple of days, as we beat around these roads, eating a lot of dust. Now we're at another beautiful safari lodge at Tarangire and I have to make a statement that I know last year I made a couple of comments on these cybercasts from Africa, that Tarangire has to be the home of some of the most beautiful sunsets in the world. This group split up rather road weary and exhausted. I saw a number of blank stares as I handed out keys in the lobby and they all wandered off to their rooms, but I know that the view that we all had as you looked out across these plains of Tarangire and the beautiful Baobab trees, there was this brilliant orange ball setting in the soft light and it was beautiful.
Today after I reported to you from the floor of Ngorongoro Crater which seems a long ways away from right here at Tarangire, although it was just this morning, probably the highlight of that game drive was two beautiful male lions that were perched up on the hill. We watched these fellows for a long time and obviously we burned a lot of film on them. We'll be going out on a game drive tomorrow, and I'd like to report to you one more time, probably from Tarangire, as our trip winds down. What I'm seeing is a group that is extremely pleased with their success on the climb, pretty awed as well as a little bit exhausted by the safari experience in all the road miles on the dusty bumpy roads and I'm seeing a group who's conversations slowly begin to turn to home, family loved ones and even work, we know that this experience will be winding down soon and folks will be flying home and they're starting to think in those directions, and I'm already starting to think about the group of folks I'll meet next Tuesday to do this adventure one more time.
But I'd like to report to you once more from Tarangire tomorrow and let you know what's been seen, when we go back out in the bush. And I know that Peter will be out there with that big enthusiastic grin I've seen on his face these last two days of safari. This is a fellow that has found a passion that he is going to get to again, I can tell, he's really into this safari business, and we all are. Peter with his big smile and his long limbs out the top of the land rovers.
8/16/01 9:24am, Ngorongoro Crater, Tanzania
Well I think this is always my favorite dispatch on these Alpine Ascents Kili trips. We are now on the 16th of August on the floor of Ngorongoro Crater in the mid-morning. We did our normal program: we got the keys from the Park Warden and let ourselves in in the darkness this morning, just past 6am, let ourselves through the road and down into the crater and we've had a beautiful morning driving around down here, it's been very peaceful.
We ran into one of the rangers on patrol on foot, and it's interesting because the rangers always patrol with one Masai. It is believed that the lion respects the Masai and will leave him alone and also the Masai have contact with everything that's going on out in the bush around the park, so they're aware of when there's poachers or strangers in the area. It's pretty interesting to watch a guy with a big automatic rifle who's using a skinny figure in a red blanket with a spear for protection, but that is in fact the case, the Masai is the protection for the warden with the big gun. Anyway these two told us that they had seen the rhinos leaving the forest so we all raced over to watch and see if we could spot the rhino, that's one of the unique things that can happen in Ngorongoro Crater, it's a great place to see Black Rhino. We finally did find two female black rhinos off in the distance in the pretty high grass, we didn't get good photos they were too far away, but we really enjoyed watching them. Now we are taking a little break and soon we will head out of the crater and on to our next adventure.
8/15/01 5:47pm, Ngorongoro Crater, Tanzania
This is Wally Berg, I'm calling you from the rim of Ngorongoro Crater at 8,000 feet. I believe you last heard from we when I reported the good success we had on our summit day two days ago. The trip off the mountain went well, although long as usual, as normal, Theresa I believe got finally into the forest camp at Mweka at about 6:30 in the evening, many hours after she had started at 1am. She was with James, one of the best guides in the business, they had been together throughout her ascent and descent of the mountain. The rest of us were sitting down there exhausted but proud and our walk back through that muddy forest the next day, which was yesterday, went really well.
Now we're out on safari, It's rough it's dusty, but it's an adventure, as we say. This lodge is really beautiful. The group is down at a Masai village near here right now and they will return soon. Kevin Duncan's family owns the Silver Oak winery in Napa Valley, and Kevin brought four nice bottles of Cabernet to share with the group tonight. I've already delivered those bottles to the head waiter and tonight we're going to sit around and look out these big glass windows at the beautiful night sky above the Ngorongoro Crater and enjoy a few moments to relax, savor our accomplishments and of course the excitement still to come as we continue on our safari adventures. We'll keep reporting about how it goes, what we find, what we see, what adventures we run across out here in these great parks of Northern Tanzania.
8/13/01 11:09am, Cosolo Camp, Tanzania
Real quickly, back at high camp, I want to give you a wrap up account of today's climb. I have to say it's the most successful climb for a group of this size I've ever had. Remember JoAnn had agreed with her physicians before she left that she was not going above 16,000 feet, she in fact went to 15,700 feet. And other than her, after I last talked to you, I realized we had complete success. Sirisha, did continue with James on out to Uhuru, she's still on her way down now, but through her persistence and determination she reached Uhuru, and shortly after I last talked to you I was on the radio with Cindy and Mark her guide and they were pretty exuberant about being at Stella Point, the crater rim at 19,000 feet. And Cindy had satisfaction and confidence in her voice as she told me that that was her high point for the day. I don't believe I've ever gotten a group nearly this large, 100% to the crater rim and above. With a humility that is due, being the mountaineers we are, knowing that this is a big place and you can't take much for granted. We're walking back down to the forest now, really grateful for the good fortune we've had. And I've got to tell you looking around, I'm looking at a group of very exhausted people, but people who I have the utmost admiration for for the effort they put out today.
8/13/01 7:11am, Uhuru Point, Tanzania
Okay at 6:45 this morning, we reached Uhuru, the very top of Kilimanjaro. Kevin and David walked right up on the summit behind me, as a matter of fact, David's videotaping this cybercast, as I speak. Also, right behind me were Bill and Noodles from Incline Village. Doug, Paula and Todd were with us. Bob, who I promised he could make it back down, he and I had a talk about how much it was taking out of him, I said you get to the top and you can get back down, and he made it and looked good up here. Peter was up here, Doctor Ken came up and this time rather than asking Dr. Ken "Are you a mountaineer?', I looked at Ken and I told him, "Ken, you are a mountaineer!" He made it and he looked good. Ram was here, Jen and Karin, two of the Ohio girls contingent was here. And most especially from Uhuru right now, as I watch the sun come up, I should give special recognition to Gerry Rizzo, who came up here, having come back after his attempt one year ago with me, you should have seen the look in this guy's eyes at the accomplishment, it's more than words can express. He tried it last year, came home, had a dream to come back and make it and he stood on the top with us.
One of the greatest things that happened was right after I got to the summit, I talked on the radio with Sirisha, who was back all the way at Stella Point, she's reached the crater rim, and her and James are continuing along on their traverse to Uhuru, I expect that they are going to make it. Mark and Cindy are still on the way, perhaps they'll make Stella Point for a high point and we'll certainly check in with them on the way back down. I'm sitting up here enjoying a little bit of sun, and it's still a little breezy.
I have a message for the next group, and you can check with Paula and Bob, who just ran back down because they couldn't keep warm, towards Stella Point. If you are in my next group, bring big down jackets so you can sit up on this beautiful summit with me and enjoy, and Ram is looking at me and I think he agrees. Okay we're going to close this thing now, we're going to call you from down in the forest and let you know how our descent went, we've got a long ways to go, but spirits are good and we're definitely feeling on top of the world right now.
8/13/01 5:26am, Stella Point, Tanzania
Okay it's still dark, and I've got a progress report for you, only things are pretty different now than when we started out hours ago. It's about 5:30 in the morning and within an hour we are going to see that golden ball pop up on the east horizon and the sun will be up, and we're all still moving, all 16 of us that started out from high camp. And we are, the first group of us, are at Stella Point, the crater rim, 19,000 feet. I'll tell you abut what's going on further back the line. Sirisha and James have been moving along at quite a nice pace for hours now on their own, and somewhat ahead of them is Mark and Cindy. Now last time I saw them, they were all moving great, when I talked to Sirisha last on the radio, she was still moving very well and said "I'm still comfortable" And I reminded her on behalf of all those people who summitted Kili with me in the past, there's probably no way to get to Stella Point and stay comfortable. So she picked up her pace, and I last talked to her on the radio and she and James were progressing nicely. I think the comfort may have dropped aside, but I believe they are going to make it, we'll report that to you later.
The rest of us are doing great, comfort is not the total report here, we've got some cold feet. Peter reported to me awhile ago, that kind of spacy, dizzy, ataxic feeling that some of us get up here, a little bit stumbly, but I'll tell you what, we've had a beautiful clear morning. I'm looking up at brilliant stars and a moon that's somewhat less than half-full, but it's still so bright you can read by it up here in the darkness. So indications are that we are going to have a beautiful traverse out along the crater rim to Uhuru, and I plan to call you when we get out there.
8/13/01 12:21am, Cosolo Camp, Tanzania
It's the middle of the night, here we are at about 12:20 in the very early morning hours of the 13th, about to take off on our summit attempt from our high camp at Cosolo, 15,700 feet. There will be 16 of the 17 of us starting. Bill and JoAnn from Incline Village Nevada, are two of probably, technically, the most experienced travelers and climbers and trekkers of this group. I've sort of lost track of the account of various adventures they've shared in the mountains and rivers around the world, as we've been on this trip. And JoAnn, as she was training for this trip, ran into a medical situation, and did exactly what I did a few years ago when I had some questions about returning to altitude. Her doctor, I think it was Doctor Peterson, back home, found Peter Hackett, a good friend of mine. Hackett gave the advice that Joann not climb above 16,000 feet on this trip, and being the mountaineer she is, she took that advice to heart to not stay home, came on this fantastic trip and stayed below 16,000 feet. She got up to wish us all well this morning, she'll be going down to the forest camp, that was actually established by a group of porters for us yesterday and of course that's the camp where we will all end up almost countless hours from now, after the rest of us besides JoAnn, with the four Chagga guides, Tobias, John, James, and Mark, we're going to start up as you know towards Stella Point.
The longest part of our day will be the next 5 and a half hours I would say, as we climb through the darkness trying to reach the crater rim before sunrise. The weather report is, I'm looking at stars, I fell asleep listening to a hard snow against my tent last night, that did dissipate through the night, it's not an entirely clear sky, there's no wind this morning, and it's much warmer than normal for this elevation. So I think we've got a lot going for us, you can count on some reports as we climb higher and higher towards 19,339 feet, the rooftop of Africa.
8/12/01 1:23pm, Cosolo Camp, Tanzania
It's only about 1:20 in the afternoon on the 12th, and we are already in position at high camp, to stage our summit assault beginning later tonight. Each of the last two days have been characterized by us moving up to the higher camps that we have begun to use in the past two years. Back at the Karanga River, I got tired of the dusty scene right down at the River, we moved up higher to a new camp, no trail leading up there. As we moved in to that camp yesterday, it was Peter, we couldn't really see anything because of the mist we were climbing in (I don't want to fool you folks: we are in the snow and in the clouds virtually perpetually now on this trip.) and as we were climbing up through the clouds yesterday, it was Peter who said "I smell camp" and what he was referring to was that he smelled the mushroom soup and grilled cheese sandwiches that the guys were fixing for us and we followed our noses into camp.
Today as we approached the traditional high camp at Barafu, at 15.1, our noses could tell us once again when we were nearing that camp but I will leave it to your imagination without any more detail, it was a different sort of smell. So we moved right through Barafu and now we are at our high camp of Cosolo at 15,700 feet. I just watched the Toledo contingent, the three good friends from Toledo, Karin, Jen and Cindy all come into camp. Cindy has been less than enthusiastic about what she considers some of the steeper trails so far on the trek across Kili, but she has caught her breath and steeled her will, and continued to move across them and is doing very well. I also saw Todd Bailey come in, and this guy, I told him earlier today, he's had probably the most perpetual smile I've ever seen of anyone climbing Kilimanjaro, whenever I run across Todd anytime during the day on the climb, he's got this big grin on his face, he's definitely right where he wants to be, and this trip has not let him down at all.
I also checked in with Dr. Ken again today and asked what has now become my routine question to Dr. Ken, "Are you still a mountaineer?" I may have reported to you that he was slipping a little bit too into reminiscing about scuba diving vacations and I was getting a worried about his commitment to being here, but now I see the big flashing grin from Ken and the thumbs up as he says I'm still a mountaineer. So here we are in position, as I said. As many of you know at 11pm tonight, we will roust after a few hours of rest and begin our summit attempt.
8/11/01 10:54am, Barranco Wall, Tanzania
Okay it's the 11th of August and the entire group of 17 of us Alpine Ascents climbers are on top of the Great Barranco Wall at something like 15,600 feet. If you wanted a weather report this is what it comes down to: the three questions I was asked about weather yesterday, Is it going to rain? Is it going to snow? is the sun going to shine? The answer to all three of those questions was "yes" and I suppose it'll be the same today. We had beautiful views of the big glaciers above our camp this morning and some sun and a few clouds again. I knew this morning before I came out of my tent, that it was going to be mostly a cloudy day again, just from the temperatures, we've had unusually warm temperatures, but it's a pretty moist weather system we have in here right now.
The climb up the Great Barranco Wall was interesting as always. I looked back down the ledges below and saw some of the group at various times stop and kind of wonder, "Well which way do I go now? And then before long a porter with a big load balanced on his head would come by and you could see the flash of recognition on the person's face and say "Oh yeah, I go that way." This climb up the Barranco Wall is the steepest part of our climb so far, the report from most people when they got to the top, is that is was really enjoyable. Even Ron, who this morning was telling stories about scuba diving vacations announced when he got back up here, "I'm a mountaineer again." So Ron is a mountaineer again. The rest of us, whether we're mountaineers or not, we're well on our traverse to the Karanga River today and having a good time, things look really good in terms of acclimatization.
Right now what I call the anxiety meter has come out for the first time on the trip, we are taking our O2 sats, (Oxygen saturation levels) to see how oxygenated our blood is, just an interesting little gauge right now and the reports that are coming in from people in the 80's, and the high 80's even, are indicating to me that our acclimatization is going really well. This afternoon, we'll be sitting around making our preparations to move to high camp and our summit attempt and we'll keep reporting as we traverse around the mountain and get ready for our summit attempt in the very early morning hours on Monday.
8/10/01 12:03pm, en route to Barranco Camp, Tanzania
Okay after I talked to you yesterday, we were blessed with the clouds moving aside, and we did see a view of Kibo and the glaciers in the early evening yesterday. And this morning it was particularly beautiful as we looked up in that direction, you could see the entire summit area. But the clouds were above Kibo and the sky appeared very wet and moist with air moving in from the Indian Ocean, and sure enough at this report from about 14,100 feet, as we traverse toward the Barranco Camp, it's beginning to look white on Kilimanjaro. We have had grapple falling for some time, in fact Mark is holding a poncho over myself and the satellite phone right now, Gerry and Doug are sitting over there eating their sandwiches, watching me as we all huddle here try to have a little lunch before we move on to the Barranco Camp.
This morning before we woke up and were treated with those beautiful views of Kili that were brief, we were treated to hear Sirisha sing beautiful Indian songs from her tent, her voice is really lovely. Later when she got up, (she had been singing to her husband Ram) we learned that she wasn't quite aware of how close the tents were probably, and she unselfconsciously serenaded us all, but we really enjoyed that. The hike up this morning, I got talked into doing probably a few too many Everest stories, and when that got old, myself and Doug, and Paula, Todd Bailey walked along and talked about friends and acquaintances from back in Summit County. Doug told me about his semi-truck driving experiences over the last year and a half, his new found skill, and how he earned some of the money to come on this Kili trip, he'd been dreaming about coming on for a couple of years.
So we're still psyched, the mountain still calls all the shots and makes it's own weather, but our spirits are good, and I'm going to go get a sandwich now and try to keep warm for lunch while we replenish ourselves and move on across the mountain this afternoon. Tomorrow is the Great Barranco Wall, and if we're lucky we'll be able to sit up atop of that in good weather and give you a call. If we're up there in bad weather we'll give you a call anyway, so we'll report from the top of Great Barranco tomorrow.
8/9/01 5:07pm, Shira Camp, Tanzania
Now on the afternoon of the 9th of August, I'm calling you from the Shira level, the Shira Camp on the side of Mt Kilimanjaro, 12,300 feet. I suppose for this group that amazing good fortune of actually seeing good views of the mountain from way down in the forest yesterday, a very unusual occurrence, I suppose that had to be balanced out by today's weather which is for this time of year, at these elevations that we've reached now on the mountain, unusually cloudy. We've been in the mist and the cloud all day as we walked up to this level and we certainly are sitting in the clouds right now. That's not above the clouds as Gerry dreamed about returning to all year in his plans to come back here, but that is right in the clouds. So here we sit.
It's certainly lent to the mystery and the aura of Kilimanjaro. This group commented to me several times, they don't even remember in which direction they saw those glaciers, and the summit area of Kibo yesterday, but that's mountain weather, always changing, you never know what's going to happen next. We have a lovely camp here as usual, at the Shira Camp, very spacious and comfortable to hang out. We actually arrived at camp today in 1:30 in the afternoon, so we've enjoyed relaxing. There have been some altitude headaches reported, not a surprise, but in general this group seems to be doing very well and tomorrow as we approach the Breach Wall and a close-up view of those glaciers, we certainly kind of hope that these clouds have moved out and we have a clear view, we'll let you know from the Barranco Camp, or en route, whether we were lucky enough to have that happen.
8/8/01 5:49pm, Machame Camp, Tanzania
I'm calling you from the Machame Camp 9,800 feet at the top of the forest. This entire group of 17 of us had a good hike up here today, and unusually good weather for the zone we just walked through, it was really dry. There was still plenty of mud, but there was no rain falling and we were even blessed with a very unusual happening down in the forest, as we neared the top of the forest you could look through the trees and actually see those big glaciers up on Kibo. So we've already had our first sighting of Kilimanjaro, some distance away yet and as is usually the case, the group did not see it on the way down from Nairobi and did not see it driving out from Arusha today. And now in the very early part of the trek up the mountain we've had a Kili sighting and you can imagine what that does for our spirits. We're psyched, inspired by looking at that big beautiful mountain and of course very happy to be stretching our legs and off the airplanes after all the international travel that this group has been through this week.
So we'll continue to report to you, tomorrow we're climbing up to 12,300 feet at Shira level and we'll give you a report from up there and let you know how we do as we approach the higher elevations.
8/7/01 5:16pm, Arusha, Tanzania
Wally Berg here, I'm calling you on a beautiful afternoon on the 7th of August from Arusha. I'm looking across the way at Mt. Meru, something like 15,500 feet, right across from the hotel here in Arusha, it's a beautiful afternoon and clear view of Mt. Meru. Of course the mountain we have in mind is a bit different and some distance from here yet, but I'm happy to report that all 16 members of this third Alpine Ascents group have arrived down from Nairobi, we spent the afternoon briefing and preparing for our trip.
It's going to be a really special group, these folks, some of them are alumni of various adventures around the world with Alpine Ascents, and with others. Mongolia, the Volcanoes of Ecuador, and I could go on and on and on. A lot of my old friends and friends of friends are here from various circles. In particular, I'm looking across the way at Todd Bailey over there, he and I first started talking about doing this trip at Copper Mountain probably two years ago. Also a big Summit County contingent from Summit County, Colorado here, several folks. Kevin Duncan is here, I've known Kevin's family from Southwestern Colorado for years and years and in particular I remember well when Mike Duncan and I, (Kevin's brother Mike) and I were in Nepal together in 1989. And I've got to also mention that Gerald Rizzo is here, Gerry Rizzo. You may recall that he was here one year ago with me on this mountain, made a lot of good friends and he described today as we had our group briefing, that feeling of solitude and how peaceful and serene and satisfied he was above the clouds on the upper reaches of Kilimanjaro last year. I can tell he is very anxious to get back up there and give it another try. So the entire group of 16 seems very calm and relaxed, yet happy to be here and of course tomorrow morning at 8 o'clock you know where we're going, we're off to the Machame Gate and that infamous day through the mud as we walk up through the forest zone and begin our climb of Kilimanjaro.
Trip #2 Cybercast: (Trip #1 below)
8/4/01 8:34am, Arusha, Tanzania
Okay I'm calling you now on the fourth of August, and this second Alpine Ascents Kili climb of the season. I suppose we should say it's over, it was certainly very successful. I say it's over because Gayle and Mike, the brothers Mike and Jim, Julie, Corey, Andrew, Dan, Scott and Amy from New Jersey and of course Rick Keller on his third big climb of this year, all just got on a bus and headed back to Nairobi to begin their travel back to begin their travel back through Europe to North America.
Since I last talked to you we had a really incredible safari. I called you on that cold morning in Ngorongoro Crater when we were just getting started. Later that morning we had a great time, it stayed very cool , but we saw all together, 11 different lions, including one female that had apparently just been in a fight with a Cape Buffalo because she had a wounded shoulder, you could see where the horn had torn into her shoulder. As the day went on, I thought the coolest thing we saw was a Golden Jackal family, the mother and probably the father or someone was feeding bits of meat to these small pups, that Eric our guide said were probably only three days old. So it was a great safari, we went on out to Tarangire, it never did get really warm, in fact I saw Dan O'Keefe this morning finally with his new pressed shorts getting ready to load onto the bus and head to Nairobi, I think that was good for him, probably all of his other clothes are so dirty, he had to finally wear his shorts. But as is often the case this time of year in East Africa we are pleasantly surprised by the cold temperatures. People leave a hot North America and come to a much cooler climate here, not only on the mountain but down here in Nairobi and Arusha and on safari as well.
Great effort on everyone's part here, great success on the mountain, and as usual a great if rough and dusty adventure out on the safari. It's bittersweet today as we send these folks back off to the United States, and of course probably today or tomorrow, one more group, the third group of the season, is going to be on their international flights and I'll meet them all on Tuesday and beginning at that time I'll give you reports on how their adventure goes.
8/2/01 8:20am, Ngorongoro Crater, Tanzania
It's about 8:20 in the morning on the 2nd of August, I'm calling you from the floor of the Ngorongoro Crater. Eric and Paul got the keys from the Park Wardens, and we came through the gate about 6am in the dark this morning and we had the whole crater pretty much to ourselves as we've driven around this morning. We're looking for the rhino, this will be our only opportunity to see the rhino, but interestingly enough, this time several of us have already seen a rhino from the rooms up on the rim of the crater at the Sopa Lodge last night. I heard a lot of crashing around, I knew something big was outside, didn't bother to look beacause I though it was an elephant, but Scott and Corey and several others were looking and realized that it was in fact a big rhino, it was kind of charging through the bush right outside our rooms.
We're down here looking for some more rhinos this morning, it's really cloudy. It was Julie who said yesterday that "those Land Cruisers have heaters in them don't they?" and Paul said "Yeah sure they do." And we stopped for breakfast here at a safe zone where we often get out and stretch our legs. The group all made sure that the drivers kept the motors running, and I'm the only one outside now, everyone's sitting inside the vehicles to keep warm. We will have a little bit of breakfast and see if the rhinos get warm enough to move around, and certainly if the rhinos don't show I think we might find some more interesting things down here in the crater today, we'll be down here all morning.
8/1/01 4:47pm, Ngorongoro Crater, Tanzania
It's Wally Berg calling you from the rim of Ngorongoro Crater on August the 1st. It's rough, it's dusty, but it's an adventure, that's our motto for the safari. I'll have to say today it's rough, dusty and quite cool and an adventure. Cloudy weather we had driving southwest from Arusha today, away from the mountain of course. We had quite cool weather and as always on the rim of Ngorongoro Crater, it's quite cool.
This morning Jim and Tom and Mara all headed north to Nairobi on their shuttle bus to begin their journeys home back to the United States, and Lisa and Larry went out on their own out here in Ngorongoro Crater. So there are twelve of us remaining in the group with two of my oldest and most experienced drivers, two good friends of mine, safari guides Paul and Derek. We headed out to Lake Manyara Park first and now the entire group except for myself is down visiting a Masai village or a Boma that is near where we stay here at at the rim of the Crater.
One interesting wildlife adventure, as we took out of Arusha today we stopped at a village called Meserani for a break and this little common house cat, just a normal cat like you'd see anywhere happened to crawl up underneath the bumper of one of the Land Cruisers and fortunately when we got in to drive off, we heard the cat crying. It was Dan who got down on the ground and very carefully extracted this very frightened little creature. And I had to think how lucky it was we found this little fellow, because if we had given him a ride out to Manyara he very likely would have become a very small little snack for one of his very large cousins. But he was reunited with his mother in Meserani, and we later had a really interesting game drive in Manyara Park. We didn't see any of the little fellow's big cousins, we haven't seen any cats, but it was a world of baboons at Manayara, we saw several different baboon troops each of which was comprised of forty or so apes, and we also had a great time watching the very graceful giraffes and saw a number of elephants and enjoyed driving through the groundwater forest at Lake Manyara before we went up to the top of the Great Rift escarpment and had a nice lunch at the Serena Lodge there. I'll report to you tomorrow.
7/30/01 7:27pm, Uhuru Peak, Tanzania
Okay it's about 20 minutes later, and I've caught my breath and contained my excitement a bit and I'm going to give you a more thorough report of our summit success here. I mentioned the people that came up right behind Tobias and I. Back at Stella Point an hour or so earlier, we had reorganized, and Scott and guide James had come along a bit behind us. And then with guide John, he had our two couples Mike and Gayle and Corey and Julie and Tom came along in that group as well. The folks I've just now listed are all standing together at Uhuru, 19,339 feet the very top of Kilimanjaro. Somewhere earlier in the morning, back down during the climb up to the crater rim, Jim Love first decided that it wasn't his day and he needed to turn back, and he and James went down together pretty early in the morning from about 16,500 feet. Then as we pushed on through the morning, Joe and Amy and Mark were making good progress but really feeling the altitude and feeling some of that nausea that a lot folks do as they try to adapt to this high in the atmosphere and push themselves, the exertion, the altitude, everything else. We kept in touch via the radio, at one point about an hour and a half before light I talked to Joe and Amy, they agreed to push on a little bit further but then sometime after that they decided along with Mark that their summit bid was good at that point, I think that was at about 17,500 feet and they began to descend.
Right now I am proud of the entire team, I'm looking out across the floor of clouds, now of warm sun that has begun to rise up high enough in the sky to actually offer some warmth here on the summit. I'm looking back at a group of rather spaced-out, but happy-looking climbers who have put out an amazing amount of exertion today. They know all about what 19,339 feet is about right now. They can tell you when they get home that it's no joke, it's a serious endeavor. They all have a good sense right now that they need to get down to thicker air, but we're going to hang out in this beautiful sunlight and get some photographs and savor the moment before we start down.
7/30/01 6:57am, Uhuru Peak, Tanzania
Okay it's five minutes before 7 and the sun is up and here we are on Uhuru Peak. I want to give a report from a group of us who just reached the summit. Myself and Tobias, Team Pirano (?) Larry and Lisa are here, Mara's here, let's see who else is here...Dan is here. And I've got to give special recognition to Rick, who just reached his third ascent with Alpine Ascents this year. Rick climbed Aconcagua a few months ago, Elbrus just a couple of weeks ago and now he is on the summit of Kilimanjaro. Mike is here and Scott's on his way up with James and then we've got a second summit wave coming across from Uhuru right now, the folks on that summit team are with John and I'm going to report to you when they get a little bit closer. Now I'm going to close, get some photographs of this beautiful summit and I am going to call you back in a few minutes.
7/29/01 1:17pm, Cosolo Camp, Tanzania
Okay I'll ask you to bear with me, I'm doing two dispatches today after you heard nothing from me for three days. That's because I finally have good satellite coverage, but mainly it's because a lot's going on with us, a lot's happening. Now at 1:30 in the afternoon, same day I called you a little while ago, we're all the way up at our high camp at Cosolo, 15,700 feet. Amazing weather today, the last group had amazing weather throughout their trip, but this group is blessed with an exceptionally clear day as they go to high camp. They had to bear with me as I stopped and took a lot of photographs of Mawenzi, the 17,000 foot peak out to the East, and of our entire route up to Stella Point, because normally that's not visible as we approach thigh camp.
Also, as usual, we have that floor of clouds that I keep talking about, lends to the mystery of the area. Down beneath those clouds is a rich farmland that encircles Kilimanjaro, That is the reason why in just a few moments, when we have our afternoon meal, before we go to bed at 4:00, (we'll be eating at 3:00, going to bed about 4:00 for our 11:00 wake up) we'll be having, you wouldn't believe the array of fresh vegetables and fruits we have here that come directly up from the valley below down in those clouds. Fresh oranges, mangoes, bananas, all kinds of sliced vegetables, sliced tomato and avocado. With this group I have to say that the grilled cheese sandwiches and the fried potatoes are a little more popular than all the vegetables, but I like the vegetables, and I am going to have plenty as I get ready to settle down here and take a few hours rest before our 11:00 wake up.
One of the members asked me a we trekked up towards high camp, just in passing, just in conversation, as we walked up here, what the next big climb I had planned was. And I had to give the honest answer to that person: at 11:00 tonight I plan to wake up, and with this group, get myself ready to try to go all the way to Uhuru Peak, 19,339 feet tomorrow morning. As a mountaineer, I never underestimate climbing above 5,000 meters, especially at the speed we ascend on this climb here at Kili. That altitude is not mitigated by it's proximity to the equator, or anything else. These folks are going to well know after they do this climb tomorrow, what I know as a mountaineer: It's a big mountain and it gives you all the same humility and respect that any big mountain does. I've climbed it over and over the past few years with a total now of a few hundred people, \those people all know what a (transmission ends)
7/29/01 9:32am, Karanga Camp, Tanzania
Okay it's the fifth day of our trip, it's Sunday the 29th of July. I haven't called you for a few days because I haven't been able to get satellite coverage. Right now on this beautiful clear Sunday morning, I'm on a ridge above the Karanga River, the entire group of 17 of us are sitting up here looking out across at the perpetual view we have, of what you would have to call a ceiling of clouds, that's always below us, it's always what we see when we look off the mountain it's been a constant sight and will continue to be while we're on Kili. We look straight across this ceiling of clouds and we see what is now a familiar sight, this big dark pyramid which is Mt Meru, off to the Southwest.
The Karanga River was not much of a river. Sometimes people find pools to take showers and wash hair there, but sometimes, as like it was with our group yesterday, a little too cool in the clouds in the afternoon when you arrive to actually think about getting very wet. The Karanga River is also our last water. We're moving up now to our high camp at Cosolo, 15,800 feet, and amongst all the other loads those Chagga porters are carrying, in jugs on their heads they have 200 liters of water, that we're going to support our summit attempt with. If you're familiar with the flow of this climb from previous dispatches you know our game plan from here. We are going to arrive at our high camp this afternoon, hopefully early afternoon, take a big hot meal about 3:00, go to bed about 4:00. 11:00 tonight is when our summit attempt begins.
So yesterday afternoon we sat and talked about strategy and how psyched we were, and kind of made our plan, as Mara said, we put on our game faces. But at this point we still have a few more hours of traversing to go and enjoying the beautiful views on this mountain. We'll call and report as we get higher on the summit ridge.
7/26/01 3:52pm, Shira Camp, Tanzania
I'm calling you on day two of this second Alpine Ascents Kili climb of the season. Yesterday's walk through that infamous mud zone, the cloud forest, went really well. Always good to stretch the legs after international travel. This group moved really well. In particular I enjoyed walking for a good bit of the way with Tobias, our chief Chagga guide of course who you know well, and Jim Love and Andrew Novak, and someone commented, here we were walking along with Jim Love our oldest member at 55 I believe, and Andrew our youngest member at 19.
Enjoyed talking with various members of the group as we walked through the forest. Tight spaces in there, you don't really have big room to stretch out and rest much so you just keep moving through the mud. We stopped at one of the wide spots and had some lunch, and then of course we get all the way up at 9,800 feet at the end of the day.
Those bush pigs, one of them, that I mentioned yesterday, followed us for a way up the trail. I think somebody in the group must have been feeding it, although of course nobody would fess up or own up to that. Regardless we're above the bush pigs now, we're up in the arid zone above the forest of Kilimanjaro, 12,300 feet at the Shira Camp. It's beautiful up here I'm watching misty clouds as they swirl around the towers over the old collapsed volcano of Shira, one of the three volcanoes that comprise Kilimanjaro. Shira to the West, Mawenzi to the East and of course the famous profile of Kibo, with the big glaciers on it the summit we'll climb to, in the middle.
We're relaxing, we got into camp quite early today, actually about 2 to 2:30 this afternoon we were all here in camp, so here at 12,300 feet we're monitoring how we do as we approach higher altitude and we're relaxing getting ready to start our trek across the higher portions of this mountain. It's going to be a beautiful walk and I'll try to report to you each day.
7/25/01 11:29am, Machame Gate, Tanzania
Okay it's Wally Berg and I'm calling you from Machame Gate at the entrance to Kilimanjaro National Park, 5,600 feet and it's July 25th. Here we go, we're off on the second Kili climb of the season. There's 16 folks here with me who have traveled from different parts of the US and Canada, met up in Nairobi a couple of days ago, and of course took the private bus ride down to Arusha together, had the rather intense information and packing session, final preparations yesterday afternoon, went out and had a nice Chinese dinner together in Arusha last night. And here we are, very excited. I can see a lot of pent up energy from the airplanes in these folks as they kind of stretch out in the Land Rovers here and they get ready to go. Of course there is this amazing conglomeration of people around here that aren't from the US or Canada: the Chagga porters and guides who come up here to meet us. We're getting organized and are about to be under way.
It's a cool, misty morning here as it frequently is in the forest. We had a nice drive out from Arusha, were treated to an unusual sight as we came up the road, a lot of bush pigs were out on the road, this morning. Normally these are nocturnal creatures but they were out for some reason in the morning light today and we got to see them scampering along the road. Now we'll be looking for Colobus monkeys, these kind of stately old gray and white long-haired monkeys that sometimes sit in the tress in the lower part of the forest here as we walk up to the Machame Camp at 9,800 feet. We hope to be there after five or six hours maybe seven hours of walking, this afternoon. And like I said this group's going to be happy to stretch its legs after all of the international travel to get here. We're happy to be under way and we'll keep you posted as we trek across Kilimanjaro and ultimately make our summit attempt in a few days.
Trip #1 Cybercast:
7/20/01 9:13am, Arusha, Tanzania
On the 20th of July I'm going to give you a final dispatch from this very successful first Kili climb of our season here in Tanzania, this time of year. All of the 13 members who finished the safari with me are now on airplanes journeying to California, North Carolina and New York. I'll describe to you our last day of safari in Tarangire since I last gave you a dispatch, It was really a successful safari day, with Carols Paul and Solomon our safari drivers on this trip. in particular Paul's car found a pair of Puff Adders mating, amazingly enough, out in the middle of the road somewhere out in Tarangire. And this scene was watched for more than a half an hour, videotaped by the entire group with a great deal of fascination, all wanting to notify the rest of our team about what was going on in the other two Land Rovers. The frequencies were wrong for the direct radio contact, and he relayed a message through our safari operator in Arusha, called them and then they called back to Carlos and Solomon, so as it was everyone got to show up at the right spot to watch this amazing scene. The Discovery Channel as we always say, here we are on the Discovery Channel or National Geographic.
Also Steve commented to me a couple of times at the end of that last day, that this is the most amazing place on Earth just to watch elephant life. It's true, I agree with Steve, you wouldn't believe how you look into the fascinating world, social world, family world, of elephants, really undisturbed and unaltered in Tarangire Park in Northern Tanzania. I think it may well be the best place in the world to look at elephants, and we got to do a lot of that in the two days we were there.
So now we had a final dinner at our favorite Italian restaurant and hugged goodbye yesterday morning before everyone started the flights back through Europe to go home. There were not entirely dry eyes at our final dinner. A great sense of accomplishment and pride and warmth among our entire group. Lessons were learned, limits were pushed and we had an amazingly successful trip, everyone is very close and leaves Africa with wonderful memories. Africa is always different than you think it's going to be and I could go on and on about that.
Those gaiters are extremely are extremely important, they don't have to go up to your knee and they don't have to be Gore-Tex, but they need to close off the top of your boots, because all of that mud the first and last day, you wouldn't believe the amounts of mud we tromp through down in the cloud forest.
And then there's the whole issue of the fact that East Africa doesn't really get hot at this time of year. Surprisingly enough to most visitors from North America. We kept looking for a place where we needed our shorts and bug repellent and it never really happened. I'm standing here now in the mid-morning mist in Arusha, where we stage our trips from, it's about 45 degrees Fahrenheit, really pleasant. If the sun burns through the clouds later it'll be maybe up in the seventies, but this is very temperate enjoyable weather, not the stifling heat that a lot of people prepare themselves when they come to Tanzania this time of year.
And the bug repellent, no one ever really figured out what that was for either. I'll have to admit that we had some Tsetse fly issues down in the Tarangire, there were a few about, and Paul, in particular hates these things our driver, Paul. If you've ever been bitten by a Tsetse fly, and many of our Kili climbers have when they go to Tarangire, then you will never feel that this animal should be classified as an inset, as no insect repellent has any effect on these things at all. They don't hurt you for long, as a matter of fact they don't even cause a bite that swells, no health issues really. These are animals that can inflict a pretty great deal of pain on you at one time so we watch out for these Tsetse flies, and when we get one in the open Land Rover as we drive around Tarangire, it's usually several minutes of excitement.
So great deal of success once again, this group will have fond memories and a great sense of accomplishment for a long time to come. Tobias and John have already been into Arusha from their village of Marangu to help me begin buying food and preparing for the next group and we're going to spend a few days relaxing in East Africa while we wait for the next group to arrive from North America.
7/17/01 6:54pm, Tarangire National Park, Tanzania
Okay, I'm going to give you another update, later in the day on the 17th. I last talked to you what seems like a long time ago, several hours ago, from the floor of the Ngorongoro Crater. We've had a spectacular day since that time. The luck has changed a lot in terms of seeing animals. We were enjoying a beautiful, peaceful, but cold morning in the floor of the crater when I gave the last dispatch. Since that time we've been successful not only having fun and laughs and great adventures along the way, but we have seen what is referred to as "The Big Five." We saw elephants and buffalos down in the crater, of course here, down the road in Tarangire, we've seen countless elephants. Also this morning we saw a number of lions in Ngorongoro Crater and we followed this particular one young proud looking male around for some time and that was really nice.
Just before we went up to the rim of the crater for lunch, we finally found a Rhino in Ngorongoro. He was sort of sitting down out in the dust, some distance away, but probably the rarest and most difficult creature to see of the big five in this part of Tanzania. We were successful in seeing a rhino. And now down here in Tarangire Park, just a little while ago, we saw a leopard up in a tree. We've seen a lot of other wildlife as well as the 'big five', we speculate a lot as to what the 'little five' might be, we certainly enjoyed seeing countless numbers of warthogs, all of the antelope of course. Never did see that bush pig that Kristen and Beth have been so big on, the bush pig being a nocturnal forest creature and us spending all of our time out here in the open spaces and sleeping at night rather than going out in the woods looking for bush pigs, but we've had a great safari.
Amazing differences in the climate, I was talking about how cold it was this morning in Ngorongoro, and it was, our pile jackets seemed rather inadequate, anyone of us would have traded the pile jackets for a down jacket this morning it was so cold in the crater. But as Charles said to me as we got into Tarangire this afternoon, he said "you know you're right, it does get a lot warmer down here." Finally Africa seems pretty warm to us, after having been on Kilimanjaro and down in Ngorongoro Crater, although here as the evening comes on and by the way I just watched the most spectacular big golden globe or ball set off to the West, the best sunsets in the world are here in Tarangire. (transmission ends)
7/17/01 8:15am, Ngorongoro Crater, Tanzania
Okay it's rough it's dusty, but it's an adventure. I'll have to say that this morning, the morning of the 17th, we're here at the bottom of Ngorongoro Crater, it's pretty cold, too. We drove through the gate and down into the crater at just past 6am this morning, we enjoyed a beautiful sunrise through the mist up at the crater rim. We haven't had a lot of luck seeing cats or rhinos or anything very big, but it's still a very beautiful morning. Now we've stopped drank some warm tea, and coffee, and a little bit of a boxed breakfast here in a safe zone in the park where we can get out of the Land Cruisers. We miss Lynn and Elliot who by now are probably on a plane back to North Carolina, perhaps even already there.
We're enjoying relaxing on safari and the unknown adventure every day of what we are going to find. We're out here with Carlos, Paul and Solomon, three of the safari drivers that have gone with Alpine Ascents for years now, old friends of mine. We're going to be down here in the bottom of Ngorongoro Crater the rest of the morning, and then later today we'll be off to Tarangire Park, and see what we can find over there.
I want to tell you now what that last great understatement about a Kilimanjaro trip with Alpine Ascents is, and that is: the safari lodges are really nice. I can tell you that anyone from this group will vouch for that. We sat last night and enjoyed a really nice meal in a large rather elegant dining room, and enjoyed some wine compliment of the manager of the Ngorongoro Sopa, James Drysdale. We just kind of relaxed and savored the accomplishment of the Kilimanjaro climb and anticipated the sights we will see and the adventures we will have as we continue on the safari for a couple more days.
We're having a great time together, still feeling a strong team bond from that climb we shared. Of course we miss Lynn and Elliot but we're having a great time out here. I'll give you a report as we move on to Tarangire Park later today.
7/16/01 8:47am, Arusha, Tanzania
Well it's the morning of the 16th and I'm down in Arusha now. It's a cool, fresh feeling morning I'd say, cool because of the clouds and the high altitude air even here in Arusha which is affected by the 5,000 feet above sea level situation here and fresh because we're off after the successful climb on a new adventure on safari. You last heard from me in that rather garbled call probably, up in the wind from the summit, the second one when I reported that Elliott and Lynn and Beth has also reached Uhuru Peak. We were proud of the success that day when we were reunited with Leslie and Charles, they felt very good about their accomplishment as well, everyone on this trip did very well in going up on Kilimanjaro. The trip down was long and grueling as always, a long fifteen hour day round trip from our high camp back to high camp and then down to the forest of course.
Now I would say here at the Novotel Hotel in Arusha, discomfort is not really on anyone's mind. We're all feeling pretty well scrubbed from the showers and baths, and we had a wonderful Italian meal last night. It's rough, it's dusty but it's an adventure, that's what our safari company says about their trips. And we're off in these Land Rovers real soon now on a rough and dusty, no doubt big adventure. We'll report to you from out in the parks specifically we'll be in Ngorongoro, at the rim of Ngorongoro Crater tonight. We'll be tired and weary from a long road trip, but we're going to see a lot along the way. We'll report to you on safari about what we see and how we are doing as we continue the adventure in Northern Tanzania.
7/14/01 8:38am, Uhuru Peak, Tanzania
Okay an update at 8:30 in the morning. Elliot and Lynn and Beth all reached Uhuru summit at about 8:30. So 13 out of 15 made it and Charles and Leslie feel good about their decision down lower we've been in touch with them on the radio. Everybody's doing great, we're starting down now.
7/14/01 7:20am, Uhuru Peak, Tanzania
Okay this is Wally Berg calling in a little after 7:15am on the 14th from Uhuru Peak, the very top of Africa. It's a little windy up here so I'll try to make this clear and be brief. We've had excellent success and it's a beautiful morning. Just a few moments ago I walked up to the top of Uhuru peak with Dania Maxwell right behind me our youngest member at 16, and just behind her was Alex Willis, at 64 our oldest member. A whole lot of the crew was right behind me there. Alex Maxwell was there as well, John, Jack the old man, I've already mentioned Dania and Alex Jr. Matt our birthday boy who came up here on his 30th birthday believe it or not, with his wife Sue. Steve and Kristen also walked up here at the same time with me and David was right behind us. At the same time we got here I got on the radio with Mark one of my Chagga guides, and back at Stella Point, right at the Crater Rim, some distance behind us but only 300 feet lower at 19,000 feet Mark was back there with our North Carolina couple Elliot and Lynn was well as with Beth Steinberg, one of our two soulful sisters here along with Kristen, the soulful sisters split up on summit day, there always together anyway.
So those are our summit folks for today. Mark told me that Elliot, Lynn and Beth are in fact going to come on out along the crater rim to Uhuru, we'll cross paths with them as we go back. And I'm sorry to say that Leslie came to me early this morning before we departed and just reported to me that she was confident that her body did not have it to come up on the summit attempt today. It's a hard decision but a tough one mountaineers may have to make sometimes. So Leslie waited in camp for awhile and then began the descent down t the forest with Simon, one of our porters. Then Charles, who started up with us, he and I talked several times throughout the morning down in the darkness about whether he had it to come all the way. He pushed hard, but he also thought before the whole thing was over that a climb up to the crater rim, that it probably wasn't going to be his day to go all the way. We talked about it several times and finally James, a guide who stayed specifically with Charles, Charles and James and I talked on the radio a few hours ago at about 3 o'clock in the morning, and Charles turned back with James from 17,000 feet. He made the right decision, he's going to be fine.
7/13/01 3:40pm, Cosolo Camp, Tanzania
Okay it's about 3:30 in the afternoon on the 13th of July and I'm calling you from the mist, I'm kind of settled in here with clouds all about me, from 15,700 feet at Cosolo, the high camp we use for our climb of Kilimanjaro. The entire group of 16 is up here and now at 3:30 in the afternoon believe it or not we just finished our dinner, our hot meal, and the group is settled down in their tents for a few hours rest. At 11 pm tonight we'll be waking up and getting ready to begin our climb up to the crater rim. I mentioned one of the understatements about climbing Kilimanjaro the other day, when I referred to the walk through the mud in the rain forest. The second understatement about a Kilimanjaro climb is definitely about tomorrow, and that is: it's a very very long day. And that will be an understatement.
This group seems up for it, it's really a group that's really gelled well. Good friends on this group. Groups of friends came, the Maxwell/Willis contingent from North Carolina and California, who knew one another from heli-skiing adventures in Canada over the years. The Kaylor-Yetto group of friends who use to work at GE together in California. A few individuals from here or there about the country, Leslie's from New York, a few others are from around the country, but basically, even though we came from various backgrounds and walks of life and as groups of friends prior to the trip, this is a really solid team right now, this team has pulled together to support one another very selflessly throughout this trip. Everyone has up days and down days, but tomorrow everybody is going to need to have an up day to get up this mountain. We'll be taking off at about 1 am and hopefully at the crater rim for sunrise tomorrow and we'll give you a report once we get up there. Spirits are good right now, people are settling down right now. We'll give you a report with some luck from Uhuru, 19,339 feet sometime very early tomorrow morning.
7/12/01 11:06am, Barranco Wall, Tanzania
Okay this report is coming to you at about 11 o'clock on the 12th of July, we are sitting on top of the Great Barranco Wall. I'm looking down at this ceiling, well you gotta call it a floor really, of clouds that stretches out across Africa from the top of the rain forest that we look at every day. Above, we got clear skies looking up to the glacier. And I'm also looking around at a pretty perky and healthy group, everybody's showing the benefits of having spent two nights above 12,000 feet now. The Cipro contingent, those folks who needed some gastrointestinal reinforcement or fortitude are showing the good effects of that. And I'm happy to say that everybody is looking really healthy and psyched for our summit attempt which will of course begin tomorrow. We just came up the steepest part of the whole traverse around the mountain here, the climb up the Great Barranco Wall. Leslie in particular was a little nervous about this this morning, but she looked exuberant and very accomplished as she walked up to the top, gave me a big high five and said "that was great!" I think most of the group found it really enjoyable.
Now we are going to continue our traverse, we'll be stopping of course at the Karanga River, which will be our third night at between 12 and 13 thousand feet. One more night of acclimatization and tomorrow we're going to start for high camp. We'll carry up 220 liters of water with us, when I say 'we' of course, I don't mean anybody from North Carolina or California. I mean those Chagga Porters who are accompanying us on this trip. Those guys have been impressing everybody here, so far I think probably one of the most memorable scenes that anyone has seen is these men walking through these steep rock with those giant river bags or boundary bags that hold our gear, balanced on their heads. Really strong skilled companions to have on a trip like this. So we are going to continue on to the Karanga River, take an afternoon of rest in preparation, maybe change some clothes before we go to bed one more night at lower elevations and move up to high camp.
7/11/01 6:02pm, Barranco Camp, Tanzania
Okay I'm calling you now from the early evening on the 11th at the base of the great Barranco Wall, we're at the Barranco Camp at 12,800 feet. Today was really amazing for me, because I've made at least twenty or more times in the past, I've done the traverse from the Shira Camp which is the second night we spend on the mountain across to this Great Barranco Wall and the camp we have here. One of my favorite mountain walks in the world because you get right up against the Breach Wall, the big massive glaciers that come off the summit of Kibo, and it's really an aesthetic and amazing walk for a mountaineer to do over and over and over, I love it. But today something happened that I've never seen: I saw absolutely clear skies all through the afternoon, all day long. This group seems to be very blessed with good luck, they told me all throughout that they are a good luck type group. But we had an amazing walk today, I had my cameras out, even though I've done this walk many times, taking pictures, I couldn't believe how clear it was.
We're doing great, were feeling the altitude of course. Our Ciprofloxin, which we take for traveler's upset stomach and ailments like that, has been a very popular item on this group. We all have a great time, the good humor which I mentioned the other day is definitely a big factor with this group. We don't get to see any wildlife on Kilimanjaro, you may know that from past dispatches, that all comes out in the safari, this group seems to be very interested in one animal I hope we see on the safari, it's a pretty constant topic here, that way back down in the rain forest, Kristin and Beth passed a porter with a giant machete and they asked him if that was what he used to slay Bush Pigs. We haven't seen any bush pigs yet on this mountain but we are very much anticipating what it's going to be like when we get out on the safari and see the bush pig and we will probably be finding other topics of bush pig lore along the way to talk about.
This group laughs a lot which is always good in the mountains. I'm not sure if that's caused by the giddy nature that comes up with exposure to high altitude or if it's just because it's a trait of this group, at any rate laughter, some rumbling stomachs, but we're sitting around looking at the most beautiful clear skiers against the beautiful huge glaciers on this mountain and we're going to watch the sunset now and have some dinner. I'll call you tomorrow.
7/10/01 7:58am, Machame Camp, Tanzania
Good morning I'm calling you now from Machame camp at 9,600 feet on the 10th of July. I lost the satellite coverage before I finished that transmission from the Machame gate yesterday but I can report now that we've got the usual blessed early morning sun with our view of Kibo or Kilimanjaro off in the distance at this camp, after yesterday's tromp through the mud. That cloud forest below us, that 4,000 feet that we climbed yesterday, is a unique feature on Kilimanjaro. This mountain is ringed by a cloud forest, an area of virtually perpetual clouds. This area is the scene of one of the three great understatements about a Kilimanjaro climb. What I mean by that, is no matter how much you try to describe this situation and the other's I'll mention later on this trip, it always comes up seeming an understatement when you really experience it. The first great understatement about a Kilimanjaro climb is that the trail the first and last day through the cloud forest is really muddy. Each group will tell you in a minute that really muddy doesn't even describe it. Today as we climb above the forest up into the much more arid zones of the mountain, they'll be wearing their very muddy and heavy boots and gaiters which are caked with an almost unimaginable amount of mud and as I told them earlier as they climb up through the more arid regions this mud will dry off become dust and fall off the boot and that's going to be a nice experience.
This group is really psyched and happy about being up here, everyone slept well last night, I can tell it's a group with a good sense of humor. One of the points that I drove home in our briefing in Arusha a couple of days ago is that mountaineers like contained packs that don't have things hanging off the side of them, because mountaineers have their packs hauled and handed over obstacles, sometimes they roll down slopes, and I as a guide really am annoyed seeing a lot of trinkets and things hanging and dangling off of packs. And of course in the confusion of getting the porters organized yesterday, I lost sight of my pack for a while and just before we started up the trail I was looking for my pack but I couldn't find it. And then I managed to locate it with a bunch of water bottles and other paraphernalia and other things hanging off of it and we had a pretty good laugh, especially the group had a good laugh at seeing my pack with a very non-mountaineering appearance with all of those things "conveniently" hanging from it. We're going to have some good laughs and some good adventures on this trip. I'll call you tomorrow.
7/9/01 11:15am, Machame Gate, Tanzania
This is Wally Berg at about 11:15am calling you from the Machame Gate Entrance to Kilimanjaro National Park in Tanzania, and this first Alpine Ascents Kilimanjaro Climb of this season is underway. I haven't been here since February as you probably know, it's great to be back. We left the Novotel Mt Meru Hotel in Arusha this morning, the group of all 16 of us. Drove out here up through the muddy roads to meet Tobias, the other guides, and of course that conglomeration of 45 porters, all of them from the village of Marangu who showed up here yesterday waiting to go to work for us.
As always, a bit of a chaotic and hectic scene, there's bureaucratic chores to take care of with the Park Service, which Tobias and I do and of course, there's a lot of loads to organize with these porters and all of our provisions for the next week on the mountain. This group is going to be a fun one I can tell, after hurriedly briefing them and getting out a little more information today, one thing I told them that as a mountaineer, I like things to be fun. I'll give you a call soon. Take care, bye.