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August 15, 2006

Britten and Chris return from the mountain

Jonathan and Carrie,

We are home safe and sound (even with all the London Terror that held us up). Thanks for your info on the hiking poles. We found some that we rented and were very thankful for them (especially on the way down, my knees were killing me and we were sliding everywhere in the mud in the rainforest). We were sooo sore for a few days afterwards too! We did make it to the summit just at sunrise and it was absolutely breathtaking. We took about 600 photos and video too. Actually we took more photos but somehow managed to lose one of our digital cameras on the mountain :( We had pretty good weather although we did see rain, snow and hail. We both loved to see the clouds roll into camp! It all just seemed like a whole different world (besides the coca cola that was everywhere!) We took the Rongai route (known as the Coca Cola route) up and came down the Marangu route. Thanks again for all your help! We were very prepared and thankful for your packing tips!

Britten and Chris =)

Britten and Chris,

Congratulations on making it safely down the mountain and more importantly, on reaching the summit! VERY sorry to hear about your camera. There must be a bunch of cameras somewhere on that mountain... Someone in our group lost one too. Do you have a picture of you both at the summit that we could post here?

August 14, 2006

Kilimanjaro Climb Questions

Jonathan and Carrie - we leave in 3 weeks for Kilimanjaro! We are overwhelmed, and my crew has a few questions we'd like to ask of the experts from Colorado:

1) at night, in the tents, how cold did it get for you and Carrie? We're going a month or two after you did, so it may be warmer, but 'just how cold was it'? We have great sleeping bags for the cold, and plan to rent the mats when we get there.

2) I'm carrying water bottles, but my wife is taking a 'camelback' to sip the water from. Which would you recommend for the others?

3) Is it better to take big duffle bags for the porters to carry your stuff in, or use the ones they have there? Same for walking poles ....... ?

4) Was tipping your guides and porters an issue? I mean, did you just hand over cash to the guides at the end to distribute, or did you separate it out for them?

5) Do they have open fires at the campsites at night??

6) Of course we all plan to summit Uhuru peak - nothing less. You two made it. Any advice on that? (open ended question ....!)

7) What do you wish you had done differently (or not done) - in retrospect?

Hi Scot! Thanks for your questions! Here are our responses:

1) at night, in the tents, how cold did it get for you and Carrie? We're going a month or two after you did, so it may be warmer, but 'just how cold was it'? We have great sleeping bags for the cold, and plan to rent the mats when we get there.

The first night we camped, at about 9,000 feet, it was about 50/55 degrees. We slept (clothed) on top of our sleeping bags, inside of the tent. From there, it got significantly cooler. The second night was probably 40 degrees, the third night was definitely below freezing (a layer of frost formed outside of our tent), the forth night was definitely frigid (I got up in the middle of the night and the stars were beautiful, but the mountain has turned to a crunchy layer of frost (probably 20-25 degrees, maybe cooler). Summit night, we went to bed around 8 PM, and got up at midnight. At 1 AM, when we left, it was 17 degrees, and the temperatures dropped from there. We figure that right before the sun came up, it was likely below zero (and definitely below zero with wind chill). We would not have been without our sleeping mats. We LOVED them! And our sleeping bags were rated to 0 degrees. We didn't really notice how cold it was on the mountain once inside of the tent and inside of the sleeping bags.


2) I'm carrying water bottles, but my wife is taking a 'camelback' to sip the water from. Which would you recommend for the others?

People on our trip seemed to like whatever they had. We were told not to take Camelback backpacks, because the water freezes in the line on summit day. So we took thermal carriers for our water bottles, which turned out to be most used with the hot water we put in the bottles (and inside the thermal packs) at night to keep our feet warm inside our sleeping bags. So I guess it depends on personal preference, but I would recommend water bottles instead. We really appreciated our Nalgene bottles.


3) Is it better to take big duffle bags for the porters to carry your stuff in, or use the ones they have there? Same for walking poles ....... ?

We just had a couple come back from the mountain and tell us the poles they rented were great. We took our poles with us. As far as bags go, we don't really know. The crew that carried our bags up the mountain had these really nice waterproof bags which kept our stuff dry the entire time we were on Kilimanjaro (except the stuff we wore the first day, which never did quite dry out). So we don't really know. But we liked having the heavy-duty REI bags to carry our stuff in through all the airports we traveled through.


4) Was tipping your guides and porters an issue? I mean, did you just hand over cash to the guides at the end to distribute, or did you separate it out for them?

We each gave $100 to the head of the company, and he distributed it out for us. So we might not be the best to ask on this one. But after people lug your stuff up the mountain for four-eight days, it is a good idea to give them some sort of a good tip. We had this question before we left as well... and $100 each wasn't a lot to pay by the end of the trip. Good for you for recognizing the need to tip your porters well (you'd be surprised how many people don't).

5) Do they have open fires at the campsites at night??

We never saw any. So we don't think so.


6) Of course we all plan to summit Uhuru peak - nothing less. You two made it. Any advice on that? (open ended question ....!)

Ummm... Keep going.

There will be points along the way on summit day when you may think, "Why am I here? What am I doing?" But Carrie and I never allowed ourselves the option of going back down. It just wasn't in our frame of reference and wasn't something we thought about. So, think only about making it to the top, and realize that it's really not that much farther. It's six days of your life which you can live to treasure forever. And plus, you spent all the time planning, and all the money to get there, and what a disappointment it would be if you didn't make it to the summit. Just decide you're all going to the top together, and then keep each other motivated to get there. Oh yah, and start doing more deep breathing. Lots of deep breathing all the way up the mountain.


7) What do you wish you had done differently (or not done) - in retrospect?

This we will answer in another post, but there's really not a lot we wish we had done differently.