Outside Online: Climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro

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February 20
On the Shira Plateau

Day 2. The group reached the Shira camp today, at 11,300 feet.

"It's a windy and beautiful and cool site. Right now we can look out from our tents and see Kilimanjaro bathed in moonlight," said Peter Blomquist.

Guides described Shira camp as "the world capital of stars," a place where you can "reach out and put a star in your pocket."

At 7:30 p.m. their time, a heavy dew is settling on the tents, and because of the altitude, Blomquist expects to find frost in the morning. The camp is exposed, with winds further lowering the temperature. People are sleeping fitfully, not deeply.

Aside from some mild headaches caused by the altitude, and some personal plumbing problems, everyone is doing well and remains in good spirits.

This morning the "Kahowa Mamas"--Christi Masengill and Catherine Allen--got up early to make Starbucks coffee and deliver it to the climbers' tents. Everyone hopes this will be a ritual for the rest of the climb.

After breakfast and breaking camp, the group headed out of the lush high-tropical forest, passing through what Blomquist described as a grove of old cedar.

They spent most of the six to seven hours hiking through a heather forest, with the trees starting out at 15 to 20 feet tall, gradually becoming smaller the higher they climbed. Blomquist said the heather zone looks somewhat like Scotland. Karen Fries commented that as the heather trees shrank to chest-high level they reminded her of blueberry bushes in the Cascades.

The group had lunch at 10,500 feet, a place the guides called Kili Beach, where a porter discovered a tiny week-old chameleon.

Tomorrow, they head to Fischer Camp, where they will have a small ceremony to honor Scott Fischer, who led last year's CARE climb, but who died on Mount Everest several months later.

Some in the expedition passed along quick messages to loved ones:

  • Jay and Jay II, not affected by the altitude.
  • To Scott: Thinking about you from the mountain. Love you, Christi.
  • (Garbled) and Kate: All well. Higher than I've ever been. Coming back Sunday rather than Friday. Richard
  • To Muriel Diamond: Happy Birthday, Mom, Terry, and Marilyn
  • To Valerie and Megan: The weather's great. Wish you were here. Kevin
  • Dougie and Liz: Congrats on the new baby. Terry and Marilyn
  • Mom and Dad: Hit altitude threshold at 10,000. Doing fine. Laurel.
  • Caitlin, (Garbled), and Anne: All's well. Love you, Peter.

And Mel Gee had some time to work on a poem about the Climb for CARE:

"Kilimanjaro 2, a Climb for CARE, began on the 19th day of February
Eighteen participants were asked to share
with the poor by climbing Kili, if they so dare
It was no easy task you see, to be part of the team
You had to be physically fit, committed and have a heart of gold
Not to mention, asking your friends for $10,000 was yes, oh so bold
The money would go to help CARE's causes
There was no time to spare
Already each day brought losses
Across the world, the less fortunate begging to be free from poverty
Or at least be told, yes, there are those who care
And will do all they can
Even if it means under the roof of Africa
With Philiman (their guide) the Kili-man
So that's how, you see, 18 people and a zillion porters came to be
Huddled around the fire in the jungles of Africa with only one goal in mind
Uhuru in Swahili freedom speaks, freedom from hunger and from pain
With that word so apropos, on to the top of Kili we will go."

©2000, Mariah Media Inc.

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