Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Presentation to BUC

On Sunday, March 29, Chris and I had the opportunity to make our presentation to the Barrhaven United Church senior youth group and congregation. There was a great turnout and we had a number of interesting questions. Not quite as interesting as the week before, however, when I presented to the Sunday School kids. Questions like, "how did the mountain get there?" and "what's inside the mountain?" were a challenge to answer to say the least.
We raised $280 towards our project on Sunday night and we are very appreciative of the opportunity and the contributions.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Recap of the climb

For those of you who didn't have a chance to follow along, here is the day-by-day description of our climb of Mount Kilimanjaro that was posted on www.BarrhavenLive.ca.

January 10, 2009
Barry and Chris began their first day of climbing by riding in an 8 wheel vehicle for 6.5 hours to the Londorossi Gate where they began their climb to the first camp. The first camp is Mti. Mkubwa at 9170 feet and was about a 3 hour climb up quite a steep grade from the gate through a rainforest. The day began at 26 degrees and was up to 31 degrees. This evening it was 14 degrees after reaching their camp for the night. There is a mess tent where they serve dinner and a pre-dinner snack consisted of popcorn and tea. There are 2 guides, 18 porters and the 3 climbers. Tomorrow will be a much more difficult day. They begin early and will be climbing to about 11,500 feet. They will pass through the remaining rainforest and into the moorland then desert plateau.

January 11, 2008
Barry and Chris Finlay along with Peter Yates walked 20 km today on Kilimanjaro escorted by their 2 guides and 18 porters. This walk took 6 hours mostly uphill through the last of the rainforest then into mooreland. It was a tough day. They spent the first 1.5 to 2 hours walking thru the rest of the rainforest then into moorland where there was still lots of vegetation but it got steadily less as they went to higher elevations. At 11,500 feet the vegetation is now short grass growing in clumps along the way. They are relaxing now and will spend the night at the Shira Camp where they get their first look at the peak of Kilimanjaro in the morning. The sun will come up over the peak and usually the clouds stay away until a few hours after sun up. Twice a day the guides check Oxygen level in the blood and take the pulse of the climbers. All is well and tomorrow they will climb to 13,650 feet. They are encouraged to eat well and drink lots of water daily. The guides and porters do not let anyone forget nor do they let anyone hurry along. "Pole, Pole" (Slowly, Slowly) can be heard frequently. The guides and porters are very friendly and they are teaching the climbers a song about Kilimanjaro which sometimes causes laughter to be shared along the way.

January 12, 2009
Barry, Chris Finlay and Peter Yates have made it to the Moira Camp at 13,650 feet after walking over 6 hours and going over 20 km. The air is much thinner there now but everyone is doing well. Calling while sitting in the dining tent after their dinner time, they do not notice the thinner air but hiking tomorrow they will notice it more. It doesn't seem to be a problem for any of them. Everyone is feeling fine. Dinner tonight was spaghetti with a curry meat sauce. They saw the peak they are heading toward early this morning as the sun came up and they said the views from where they are now are absolutely spectacular too. They had an almost flat walk through some of today as they walked over lava rocks in a moon like setting. There are caves caused by lava flow and the rocks in some areas have a obsidian or shiny black appearance. They will get some sleep now (8 hours ahead of us) and get ready for the next portion of the trip. They are all enjoying the experience very much and are looking forward to the views and experiences tomorrow will bring.

January 13, 2009
The climbers are at the Barranco Wall Camp tonight which is at 13,200 feet. They climbed thru the Lava Tower today during the 7 hour climb. The Lava tower was majestic and clouds over every 10 minutes but then clears and they could see Mehru peak on one side and Kibo on the other. The sights were fantastic. They had to pick their way through rocks on the climb up and again on the climb down to the Barranco Wall Camp where they are spending the night. It was a really tough day of climbing. The sights and the panoramic views are really and truly outstanding.At 15,200 feet in the Lava Tower they noticed really much lower oxygen supplies but that is part of the acclimatization they are going through where they climb high and sleep lower which will assist them on making it to the summit.You will note that they are not taking the routing that was on their itinerary now. They are doing very well and all oxygen and blood pressure tests are very positive thus the slight change in itinerary. Tomorrow their plan will be to go to the Karanga Camp which is again around 13,000 feet.They are feeling like they can touch the clouds as they are in them but every 10 minutes or so they can see the night sky and the stars are bright and absolutely amazing to see.

January 14, 2009
Today was the most satisfying part of the climb so far. They spent almost 2 hours climbing an 800 foot vertical wall called the Barranco Wall. There is a trail but in one place you have to "kiss the wall" and swing around it. Peter said he was "scared sh__less". Barry and Peter both have a fear of heights but decided it had to be done so managed to do it even though they were scared. Christopher was doing the whole wall with a smile on his face really enjoying himself. He said his legs were a bit rubbery once but he loved it. The temperature was about 16 degrees when they were climbing the wall today.

They then spent about 5 hours climbing down into a valley, up the other side, down into another valley and up the other side then into the valley where they were to spend the night at Karanga Valley (13,600 feet). They are all tremendously proud of themselves to have done it.

Apparently the porters start a while after the climbers begin their climb up the wall but pass the climbers carrying 20 kg on their heads. Barry said it was interesting to watch the 20 kg bags being dropped and end up down at the bottom of the wall in the river. The porters then go back and get the bags and begin the climb all over again. I guess it happened a couple of times along the way. May be their way of taking the climbers minds off the 800 foot vertical climb they are doing for a bit. (My thoughts not from Barry)

Right now the temperature is about 2 degrees and when they come out of the mess tent and can see the mountain, no clouds tonight, then look the other way and can see the city of Moshi with all the lights. Spectacular views. All in all the most satisfying day for all of them.

An interesting thing they mentioned is that the porters always go ahead and set up the next camp and every 3 days porters come up the mountain bringing fresh food then carry the garbage back down the mountain.

January 15, 2009
Barry, Chris and Peter have reached the Barafu Camp (16,019 ft) where they will spend the night. The air is thinner but everyone can breath okay and no headaches. They walked over shale uphill about 2000 feet today and it was rough going but they did the walk in 3 hours. Once they got to camp they were given tea and lunch then the guides decided they needed an acclimatization hike and they went up the mountain further then down again. They had some sleet while doing the acclimatization hike. This lasted a couple of hours. They are now sitting in camp visiting. Eddie Frank one of the founding members of Tuskers Trails was bringing a group from Montreal down the mountain and stopped in to visit with Barry, Chris and Peter. Eddie was aware of the school project in Tanzania they are working on and stopped off to see how things were going on their climb and to wish them well.

They have passed streams and rivers on their climb but at the altitude they are now there is no vegetation or water. Peter saw a very large osprey with about a 4 feet wing span and as we were talking Barry mentioned a giant raven flying toward them. This Raven is about 3 times as big as crows here and they are scavengers looking for food. They have also seen "four striped mice" which is a loosely translated version of the Swahili name for them.

Where they are in camp they can see the mountain clearly as well as Mount Mawenzi which is another peak (1 or 3) of Kilimanjaro. They can also see Kibo clearly today. The clouds roll in then veer off as they come in contact with a rock wall near the peak. At the beginning of the climb they had been fed lots of carbs they are now being fed lots of carbs and starchy foods. They say the food is fantastic and Christopher is very happy with the curry dishes.

January 16, 2009
At 5:06 this morning, I received a call from the Summitt of Kilimanjaro! THEY MADE IT!THEY REACHED THE SUMMIT OF KILIMANJARO AT APPROX. 1 PM TANZANIA TIME! The last hike up to the summit was brutal. They were up and hiking at 6:15 am their time, it was snowing a bit and there was a dusting of snow on the ground. The wind was strong but was behind them so they kept thinking that everyone whose name (200+) is on the flag, including family and friends were pushing them to the top. They made the Uhuru Peak which is the highest point on Kibo at about (19,340 feet) arriving about 1 pm Tanzania time. They spent about 15 minutes taking pictures and just being in the moment before they began their descent again. Everyone takes oxygen at the top of the mountain just to replenish their oxygen in the blood somewhat before they begin their descent. They hiked to the glacier which is disappearing and were saddened by that fact. They hiked to the ash pit which is where the active Volcano is located on Kilimanjaro. The descent began and they ended up surfing down about 200 feet in loose rock before they continued on to the Crater Camp at 18,802 feet where they will spend the night. They had planned to go further down the mountain but the weather dictated they were spending the night at the Crater Camp. Tomorrow they will hike down the mountain to another camp in lower altitudes where there will be more oxygen. Tonight they will be sleeping at 18,802 feet.

January 17, 2009
Our Climbers wanted us to know that it was about 16 degrees at the top of Kilimanjaro but with the wind chill it was about 3 degrees in actuality
Last night at 18,800 feetthey had 3 doses of medication for headaches. The guides made sure they had the medication every 4 hours until about 10 am this morning when they took the blood oxygen readings and blood pressure again. Everyone passed the testing very well. The headaches disappear as they get into lower elevations.
Tonight they are camping at the Mweka Camp which is about 10,000 feet just at the edge of the rainforest. They have sore feet tonight and it is well below 0 in camp tonight.
They came down the mountain in about 5 hours and the first 2500 feet in about 45 minutes. They slid most of the way in loose volcanic ash with their toes mashed against the front of their boots.
They were told by the guides to cut their toenails before they started out this morning and it became apparent why as they spent all 5 hours with their toescrushed against the front of their boots. Needless to say it would have been a painful descent andthey will have sore feet tonight.
After the first 2500 feet they spent the next 4+ hours picking their way thru rocks and then a rocky river bed which was fairly steep. They were glad it had not rained much lately as the riverbed was dry. They are not sure how this route could be used in wetter weather. They spent all that time watching the back of each others boots picking their way along to their camp for tonight
At this point in the telephone conversation the reception started breaking up. The connection was lost and although they tried to call again 2 times we were unable to establish a connection to complete the report. I will update the report the next time I hear from them. As I understand it they will walk thru the rainforest tomorrow to the nearest gate and be picked up to be taken back to Moshi for a well deserved hot shower and a cold beer!

January 18, 2009
THEY ARE BACK IN MOSHI! They left Mweka Camp at 7:40 am and to to the gate to Kilimanjaro at 10:40, downhill all the way. This was tougher on the legs than climbing up hill. They had to check out of Kilimanjaro at the Gate. Once they reached the gate, they were presented with Certificates saying they had climbed Kilimanjaro and 45 minutes later they were back in Moshi. They hiked over 100 km from the Londorossi Gate at the West side of Kilimanjaro to the east side, up and down all the way around the mountain. They are back in Moshi and have had a hot (and cold) shower as well as a cold beverage. They are packed and ready for their trip to Mwanza and the three climbers (Barry, Chris and Peter) are going to go out for a celebratory dinner together tonight. Everyone is great and very proud of themselves and their accomplishment. It was not easy but very satisfying for each of them. WAY TO GO GUYS!!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

1st entry - March 24, 2009

Hi everyone,

As you know, Chris and I successfully summited Mount Kilimanjaro at 1:00 pm Tanzania time on January 16, 2009. It was an exciting and emotional time. I felt like the entire 200 plus people who donated to our classroom project were behind us, pushing us to the top on summit day. There was a very descriptive article recently in the Kanata, Barrhaven, Perth, Stittsville and Manotick newspapers. You can read the article at http://www.perthcourier.com/StittsvilleNews/news/article/10936

We then visited Sabasaba School in Mwanza, Tanzania where we presented the flag to the school administrators. What an eye opener that was! The school has 200 Grade 2 students and 325 Grade 3 students housed in two classrooms and they are still registering! The kids have to be educated in shifts so that they can all get some education.

Chris and I have managed to raise close to $15,000 so far through the generosity of the 200 plus people I mentioned earlier. About $8,000 will go towards a third classroom, supplies and training a teacher and the remaining $7,000 will go towards drilling a well. But there is much more to be done. The school needs 12 classrooms and about $13,000 more is needed for the well project.

We want to keep this going. Plan Canada is providing every cent we raise to our projects and we have seen what the money can do. In my next blog I will announce details of the 1st Annual Kilimanjaro Golf Fore Kids Tournament that is scheduled for August 29, 2009 in Smiths Falls, Ontario. Tournament Director and Founder, Debbie Harbridge, has that well in hand.

We will also be presenting some slides of our adventure on Sunday, August 29 at Barrhaven United Church, 3013 Jockvale Ave at 7:15 pm. It is open to the public so come out and join us!

There are more events planned. Check back often for further announcements!