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Amputee Team Climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro UPDATE! 

Kirk Bauer


From left to rightReed Hoffman, photographer, Nickson Moshi (Massai Giraffe Safari Guide), Guide (name unknown), Neil Duncan, Denver, Kirk Bauer, Ellicott City, N.Y., Scott Kelly, volunteer, Dan Nevins, Jacksonville


Day 5 at 16,500 on our way to 18,500 this afternoon. Toughest climb yet. Battery failed and knee froze up so its slow going. Dan’s right residual limb is irritated and inflamed, but is better today.
Will camp high tonight and reach summit before 8am tomorrow (noon DC time Saturday).
Sent from Zain, Tanzania

August 4, 2010

Kilimanjaro Challenge day 3 update: The weather is getting colder. They are in the alpine zone with much less vegetation. Spectacular views of Kilimanjaro and Mt. Mwenzi to the Southwest. Last night was below freezing and colder than expected but mostly warm during hikes. Tonight they will be camping at around 14,000 feet.

The team is feeling strong and enjoying the camping as much as the hiking!

August 2. Day One.
It was a great success on all counts. Nickson (Massai Giraffe Safari guide) wanted to keep the climb short to break us in slowly to the altitude and climate. We are climbing from the Rongai Route on the northeast side of the mountain. He estimated it would take us about four hours to do that first day. In fact, we reached the 8,500 foot elevation Simba Camp in three hours. Neil and Dan were smooth and swift except in very steep rocky parts, which was only for short distances. Rain threatened all day but held out so we are dry so far. We are working hard at staying dry especially for the high altitudes. We all feel strong and cannot wait to take on the mountain tomorrow (Wednesday), but we are mindful that this is only the first day.

This morning we got up, ate a big breakfast at the hotel and were on the road by about 8:30. It is a full four hour trip to our start point. All along the road there are small villages with strips of one story concrete block shops all connected like a small strip mall. There is everything from grocery stores, bars, restaurants, auto repair, barber and beauty shops, butchers etc. Suddenly, our driver veered off the road (I am glad our driver was good, otherwise I would be scared to death on these road) into one of these malls and proceeded to by our water and our beef off the rack from a local butcher. Something like I have never seen with a half carcass just hanging there in the open air and the butcher cutting it up for us. This is our dinner tonight!

We also stopped in the large town at the base of the mountain, Moshi, to get some more cell phone cards.
When we arrived at the ranger station (this is a national park) to register, we certainly got a lot of stares from the other hiking groups and the porters crowded around the site. Many gave us the thumbs up in encouragement, which really pumped us to get on with the climb!!

The first part of the trail was a narrow logging road leading to forests of pines that had been planted to provide lumber for the surrounding villages. Once a section is clear cut, the local farmers plant corn. When that is harvested they plant potatoes between the corn rows and harvest them later in the season. They use the land to its fullest.

At about 7,500 feet elevation, we pasted a village where the kids were just gapping at Dan and Neil. So, these two (Neil and Dan) started acting and walking like robots passing the kids. Probably the best entertainment the kids had had in a while.

Unlike high elevation in, say Colorado, there is lots of vegetation here at 7,500-8,500 feet. Trees, shrubs, etc. Leafy trees that keep their leaves year round, unlike the East Coast flora. We were near a corn field when suddenly we heard some screaming coming from the trees to our right. There were blue monkeys and Colobus Monkeys with long white manes hanging from their heads. They were jumping from tree to tree. It was absolutely spectacular.
When hiking at high altitudes in Colorado, we do not often see much wildlife, so this was a real treat. Trees included Silkwood, African Yellow Wood, Juniper Procera and Erika.

In the words of Neil: “We had a great day. Great pace and even trail. Always a lot of work for me, but it was a good day.” By some estimates, Neil and Dan are expending 200% or more energy than the two legged animals on this mountain on the climb.
Tomorrow (Wednesday) is another short climb day with about 2,500 vertical. Again, Nickson (Massai Giraffe Safari guide)and his crew want to break us in slowly.

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