Outside Online: Climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro

May 5, 2004
Outside Magazine
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February 27
A few post-summit thoughts

A few days after the climb, after showers and oxygen-rich air, some of the climbers jotted down some of their thoughts on a rare and rich experience.

"Kilimanjaro II was not so much about the conquest of one of the world's seven summits as much as it was about the human connection that occurred between 19 people brought together by one common cause: To assist CARE in its global efforts to alleviate poverty and hunger in developing countries.

"CARE was the vehicle that brought us to a distant land; and the CARE spirit of loving your fellow man prevailed throughout the long and arduous climb.

"In the end, those of us who came from so far to help are returning far richer in love and spirit for having done so. Thank you, CARE."

-- Mel Gee

"What a trip! What a high! I expect it will sink in over the next few weeks. It has been a wonderful two weeks. I feel privileged to have seen CARE's work as well as the bonding between our 19 participants. It's been an unusual time, where people from diverse backgrounds got together in a new environment. Alan was very special as a guide transcending two cultures.

"Nineteen out of 19 summited! How great is that? The spirit of Africa and Kilimanjaro will live on for all of us! Cheers!"

-- Dan Levitan

"Coming to East Africa was so foreign to me that I really did not know what to expect. I arrived full of energy and anticipation of conquering this mountain. The CARE days really touched a part of me that I should have been focused on all along--giving! From those days forward I kept picturing the childrens' faces as I would take the next step up the mountain. Now with my body fatigued, my mind cleared , and my spirituality renewed, I can go back to San Francisco and give a little part of what I experienced here to each and every person I encounter."

-- Charysse Wiley

"Carpe diem.

"P.S. I love Tanzania."

-- Jim Losi and Jim Losi Jr.

"One night Mel Gee asked me to give her one word that summarizes the Climb for CARE trip. With such a range of emotions during that last 11 days, I asked if hyphenated words count. I went through several words and ended with 'bonding.'

"The trip was about bonding with people in Kenyan villages through CARE projects, bonding with other members of the Climb for CARE team, bonding with the mountain--being physically in touch with the challenge--and last of all, bonding with yourself.

"I always find being in the mountains is a time to reflect and get in touch with oneself."

-- Robert Levitan

"Planning for Kili four months ago, I hunkered down, stepped up my exercise program, and began putting my to-do list together. I did the footwork I needed to do to get me to Kili.

"At some point--Day 3--I realized that all the planning and preparation was not going to get me to the summit. What got me to the top was the support and concern of this group. Kathryn taught me the rest stop. She broke down the day into short, achievable goals. Marilyn Diamond made sure I stayed hydrated. Doc Levitan kept me healthy enough to recommit each day to make it to the next camp.

"So in a nutshell, I pushed hard, came close to realizing my own limitations, and the power of the group pulled me through."

-- Laurel Johnston

"I've climbed many mountains, some small, some big, some very difficult technical routes, some easy hikes. I've climbed with world-class alpinists, with novices, with friends, and with strangers who became friends. But I've never climbed with such a large group of warm-hearted, generous people.

"The route was simple and the people were new to high-altitude mountaineering, yet their hearts overcame all the hardships of thin air. Everyone summited. The warmth of the group made the incredible hardships of high-altitude mountaineering melt away. We came together, only tangentially for the mountain; rather we came together to make a difference in world hardship, not high-altitude hardship.

"I believe now that the common ideals that brought us together are so powerful and the warmth so great, that it can melt all glaciers and lessen global hardship.

"Thanks to CARE for simply organizing us to make a very real difference. This has been the best mountaineering experience of my life."

-- Kevin Grant

©2000, Mariah Media Inc.

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