Thursday, September 27, 2007

Kili Dispatches

Listed here is the dispatch I posted regarding our summit night from my most recent Kilimanjaro Expedition...

To The Top and Back Down Safely
19 Sep, 07 - 22:03

What a night! We were treated to a crystal clear night and relatively steady 15*F temps. We felt blessed that the first clear weather night in 7 days happened to coincidence with our summit attempt.

We had two different start times depending on expected pace. Bill, Jim, Josh and Jeff set out at 1:30am. Magdalena, Craig, Scott, Michael, Ryan, Emeka and Thayer took off at 2am. In a perfect world we would all meet on the summit at the same moment and share a group hug. Well... summit night on Kili is not a perfect world.

Bill had a few curve balls thrown at him with regards to the electronic hearing and night vision equipment. So we spent a bit of time problem solving alternative methods of communication. In the end, the equipment worked as expected and was a huge part of Bill's summit success.

Jim decided at 16,800ft that he was completely exhausted and wished to head down. After some deliberating it was clear that he was satisfied with his effort and had a smile on his face as he headed down with Nickson. Jim should be commended for putting in a great effort to reach his high point and overcoming his fear of heights on Breakfast Wall. This was a big deal and I am very proud of his effort.

Emeka had been having some stomach issues the past several days and in spite of medical intervention was unable to hold much food and fluid down. As a result he was quite fatigued which significantly slowed his pace. In what was a Herculean effort, Emeka knuckled down for hours and finally reached the summit around 11am. His tenacity has inspired all of us. He received a standing ovation as he entered the meal tent last night.

Thayer also showed his strength and resilience. He was clearly pulled down by the affects of altitude just prior to sunrise but rallied hard and not only summitted with the 2nd wave of us, he actually found new strength and returned to the summit an hour later for a 2nd time to accompany Emeka and document his success. A fantastic effort and wonderful personality to have around.

Josh was amazing. This guy flew from Manhattan a week ago never having done anything similar to climbing a mountain. He fought through extreme fatigue for hours and stood on top with us overwhelmed with emotion. A very proud effort.

Magdalena, Craig and Scott were, quite possibly the fastest crew on the mountain last night. They blew the doors off of every other team to summit around 7am. Magdalena, who we have all designated a saint for tolerating us for a week, lead the charge and the Wyoming boys were close behind. My only regret with their speedy ascent is that we all didn't get to summit together...they were just too fast. Amazing job.

Ryan was a true stud and as expected with him, was throwing out his wonderful humor even in spite of significant exhaustion. He summited with us at 7:30am. He is one of the true characters in life. A joy to have around.

And of course Michael was typical mountain Michael, sprinting up and down the hill to help and assist the film students. He is consistently a powerhouse in the mountains and one of my best friends. An honor for me to share another big summit with him.

Back to Bill... This guy is made of steel. As noted before, we did run into some technical challenges with his equipment, but through it all he kept his head on straight with a solid look of determination. Guiding Erik Weihenmayer for 14 years has obviously been very inspiring...but I feel that watching Bill tackle this project, create momentum behind his effort and then physically and emotionally summit this mountain has given me a new sense of inspiration. He has blown me away with the pureness in his heart and determination in his soul. He is a true man of conviction and I am honored that he gave me the opportunity to guide him on this climb. We summited arm and arm at 7:30am.

Thanks so much for the support and kindness,

Jeff and company

To read all of the dispatches from this trip, go to MV Dispatches