Posted at 12:15 pm EST, 8:15 pm on Mount Kilimanjaro
by Sarah Bradfield
(special thanks to John Gash for his photos and captions)
Itinerary for Today:
The women began their ascent in the four teams, at 40 minute intervals, at 4 pm EST, 12:00 am on Mount Kilimanjaro. After about 9 hours or so of hiking straight up in the dark with flashlights on their heads, some of the women were able to reach the summit. We have recieved word that many of the women chose not to summit because of the conditions they were experiencing. Other women did summit, and some even said they had to be pushed up the last bit of the way. At the top, it was surely an incredible, emotional thrill to stand on the summit and have accomplished so much after so many months of planning, training, preparing, and then climbing. Many cried tears of joy.
After experiencing the summit, the women are faced with the haunting reality that they are really only half way into their climb. Although they will only spend about two days going down the mountain, they will still need to re-trek every bit of land they went up. Although climbing up is a lot harder on one’s lungs and aerobically, climbing down is hard on the knees and feet. After the giddiness and euphoria of the summit, the distance, the tiredness, the reality of the altitude, and the nausea hits hard.
On the way down, the same switchbacks they went up in the dark, they were able to see as they headed on a long chute headed down, down, down. They have been hiking/sliding down for hours. They are sliding because it is very slippery and rocky, and it has also been raining.
The climbing saying goes…”Going up is optional, going down is mandatory”… Some of the women have been exclaiming that this was absolutely the most difficult thing they have ever done, and especially trekking down for hours in the rain after the long climb up to the summit. However, the women are back safely at the camps now, where a food tent has been set up for them. Their legs are like jello, and they have been challenged mentally, emotionally, and of course physically. Tomorrow begins the 7 hour trek back down to the bottom of the mountain, and we know that the women will be more grateful than ever to get off the mountain, and take hot showers!
Quotes from the Climbers:
“We’re off to the summit!!!” – Cheryl Weber, 4:00 pm EST, 12:00 am on Mount Kilimanjaro
“We made it to the summit…just now. It’s a glorious day, we’re all doing great, I mean, it’s been very, very difficult, but it really has been symbolic of all those who suffer and have no voice. And the Lord just told me to be the rear guard and bring the glory of the Lord from the rear of the pink team, but then at the end, Ellie, one of the porters, ended up having to push me up. It was extremely difficult, and he is a believer. It was a glorious time, and we made it! We are on our way down, we want to get off this mountain. We need to as soon as possible, and we don’t want to have any problems with altitude sickness.” – Nancy Byrne, 1:30 am EST, 9:30 am on Mount Kilimanjaro
“Guess what?? Made it!!! Took 9 hours up… and 2.5 sliding down the scree on our boots…a short break…then another 3 hour walk in the rain. Just arrived at a rough campground and can barely walk. Sunburned by the glacier and no sleep for 48 hours. The toughest physical and mental challenge of my life. Feeling really really rough, but the experience of making it through to Uhuru (Freedom) Peak was absolutely indescribable! Wow! I know I will always treasure the experience once I recover! Pretty sick when I got down too… dehydrated, super nauseous, headache ‘n shakey from head to toe. Pretty daunted by the three hour hike at the end through the rain. A 7 hour hike down tomorrow to wrap it all up. Right now I don’t know how I’ll do it. We were the first of the teams to attempt the summit – All 12 of my team made it to the top of Gilbert’s Peak, but only 7 were able to summit thru to Uhuru around the crater rim. Out of all the women, Denise and I had the privilege of arriving at the top of Africa, 2nd and 3rd. Thank you, my friends, for your cheering and prayers. Please continue to journey with us…and all the women and children who daily go through much more than we have had to endure!” – Cheryl Weber, 11:37 am EST, 7:37 pm on Mount Kilimanjaro
- Pray that the women would have a much better night of sleep tonight, and that they’d be rested and refreshed and have continued stamina for their last day of trekking tomorrow.
- Pray that emotionally the women would be lifted up by the Lord and that their souls would not be weary but completely restored!
- Pray that the glory of the Lord would be radiantly shining through the efforts of these women!
Scripture for the Day:
“…but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” – Isaiah 40:31