Live From Kili: The Summit!

Writer Nick Heil reports from Kilimanjaro, where all 25 members of the Love, Hope, Strength team reach the summit

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A concert on the roof of Africa.

Writer Nick Heil is on assignment for BACKPACKER in Tanzania, where he’s climbing Kilimanjaro with the cancer-fighting Love Hope Strength Foundation. Keep checking back for updates on the climb, and to learn more about the expedition, visit

Oct. 5: Crater Camp and Mweka Camp

We’re back on the air! It’s been a tough 48 hours, and this is one pooped blogger. After back-to-back alpine starts (that’s 3:30 a.m., folks, in single-digit temps) we kicked, grunted, and clawed our way to the top. I have to confess, I am humbled. Kili is a very big mountain. Two days ago took us from Arrow Glacier Camp a whopping 2800 vertical feet through the Western Breach, where three American climbers were killed in a rock slide in 2006. Nearly half the team was blitzed with AMS that night, since we were all beat and trying to sleep at 18,500 feet.

That left a short ascent the next day, but since hardly anyone slept (given illness, cold, and our looming second early start) it wasn’t exactly a cake walk. Somewhat amazingly—I would have bet at least two team members weren’t going to make it—we put all 25 up on the clear, windy, bitter cold summit at 19,341 feet.

Spent most of the day stumbling 9,000 quad-filleting feet down to our last camp on the mountain, Mweka Camp. I was hoping it would be a pleasant sight, but it’s dusty and overcrowded and I’ll be pleased to get down to the town of Arusha tomorrow for my first shower in 8 days. I’ll send a post-mortem on the expedition as a whole tomorrow, but for now this newly-minted Kilimanjaro summitter is off for some desperately-needed sleep.

—Nick Heil

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