Caren Ware's Blog

April 5, 2014

The world awakens

Filed under: Uncategorized — Caren Ware @ 11:32 pm

Was it worth it to part weeks of precious schedule to tackle a mountain smack in middle of the equator? One which makes you have to bring wool, down, and gortez? Absolutely. Kilimanjaro is one of a kind Where else can any Joe Smo experience elevation and a 19,000 summit experience? The sun rising over Africa is exquisite,the 360 view tantalizing, brimming with pride to have accomplished something arduous, but so breathtakingly gorgeous. That is why ‘peaks’ are so engulfing and a life goal. I heard about Kilimanjaro from some medical students that were climbing THE GRAND in Jackson with myself and two Exum Mountain Guides. We stayed in ‘the hut’ together, a tent erected on a plywood platform the park service air dropped every year at the 12,000 saddle. The Grand was climbed at night also. It was done so to get the climbers off the mountain before afternoon thunderheads were most likely to strike the mountain with lightning. Climbing the GRAND meant climbing. You had to use ropes, know how to belay, repel, and suck up any fear of heights. There were 2,000 to 3,000 foot drop offs on the GRAND in the Tetons of Wyoming. I stepped out of the hut into a 90mh wind store. Either gender had pee flying in all directions though discreetly hovering behind rocks. We were tackling the treacherous terrain with EXUM MOUNTAIN GUIDES that know the proper route. As we left, you could not see the hand in front of you. We would climb on belay and with ropes for six hours until sunrise. On the four pitch, we were moving in rapid alpine style, coiling the ropes and throwing the line behind us to belay. I caught the rope on my headlamp and it sent it flinging through the air like a released rubber band. The precious beam of light landed one full pitch below on a tiny ledge. Picture the feeling of being on a ledge over 13,000 feet with NO LIGHT. I belayed my climber up on braille hands feeling the rope and he was luckily able to traverse over and get my headlamp. Those were dark moments! We finally all tumbled onto a ledge and still having half a day’s climb left, watched soft hues open up the precipice we were preciously above. I enjoyed being sandwiched between the guide’s expertise and easy going professionalism. This was my first encounter with guides. I liked being with people that lived and loved their mountains. They made the experience as would the guides in Tanzania.
In the Tetons, we were awakened at midnight and given boiled water to pour into instant meals. Sooooo….. understand why I was so taken by the African porter’s bringing fresh vegetables and the cooks conjuring up crepes and sautéed potatoes. Yes, yum, but I did not need to be told to eat with caution our accent meal. My body had lost its appetite. So I drank hot water, not daring coffee or tea. And I nibbled on a tea cookie and resorted to by clip gels like I would in a triathlon or marathon. We had eaten WELL all the way up the mountain. That would survive this next 38 hours.
So we summited. Words cannot describe the 360 degree feeling of being on the top of a place to its own. It was everything I envisioned it to be, and even more goal branding that I expected. It etched erasable sketches of experience that bake character. We were punchy, our words slurring, but triumphant. We had done it. It was so solely personal that it was as if we each were alone up there. And yet…IMG_5026

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