Last week I shared some highlights from my once in a lifetime adventure climbing Kilimanjaro. Here’s a bit more from behind the scenes.
We were blessed to have an amazing 20-person crew accompany and assist us in summiting Kilimanjaro. They are as memorable as the mountain and the reason we happily reached our goal.
Charles Teete; Lead Guide:
We all shed tears when we had to say goodbye to our lead guide, Charles. He is a humble, natural leader that made each and every one of us feel so taken care of. He emanates goodness and made our day on the second morning when he proudly shared pictures of his wife, kids and the house that he had built himself. His stories of previous climbs, his Chaga Village and traditions, and the songs we coaxed him into singing, kept us going and smiling. He charismatically managed us and the small army of 20 that accompanied us. If he saw one of us struggling he would very calmly and thoughtfully start asking questions, carry our pack and always encouraged us not to “feel shame” sharing our ailments.
Atilio; Assistant Guide:
Our assistant guide, Atilio, also dazzled us with his charming personality and was the perfect compliment to Charles, as his nature is slightly louder and more playful. We were grateful to both of them for how safe and happy they made our experience. While so many people climb the mountain, it is nothing to be taken lightly as we found out a man had died the day before we summited. Our guides smartly kept this from us until we were safely back at base camp.
Dennis, Cook and Senene, Waiter:
Our seven days and six nights were hard and uncomfortable even with a team of people supporting us. Dennis, the cook, kept us going with an assortment of amazing soups and meals that we were pleasantly surprised anyone could create in a camping scenario. Senene, our spirited waiter, could be a singer or movie star – we were lucky he was with us to insist we “eat more” and keep us smiling by singing the Kilimanjaro song.
Evans and the other Porters:
In addition to the 4 people mentioned, 16 porters accompanied us. We were incredibly grateful for how insanely hard they all worked to help us reach our goal of summiting Uhuru Point. Evans, is the name of the porter who carried my bag and I can’t express how happy I was to see him every time I reached camp.
One of the most special moments of the entire trip occurred on the last morning when the entire crew sang us several native songs. We came to genuinely love our team and know that our trip would not have been the same without them.
Stella, Our Goddess Of Inspiration:
Stella is the one woman we met that was working on the mountain. To clarify, her job as a porter was to carry up to 55 lbs on her head and back as quickly as possible so all of the goods could be set up before clients arrive at camp. Stella effortlessly sauntered up the wall we had just struggled with and managed to smell good despite the elements as hand. She apparently has four children and is the strongest woman I have ever hugged. She was an inspiration on the climb and continues to be one now that I am home!
Alix, Renee, Heather; my fellow climbers!
I couldn’t have asked for three more perfect people to have shared this experience with! Traveling in the elements can be trying and I can’t imagine a better group of strong, supportive and adventurous women to have “mastered” myself and the mountain with.