xplor.earth team summits – Gilman’s Point
LE: For the 6-day, 5-night journey across the popular Rongai route, xplor.earth teamed up with a leading local operator. The team was certainly well set up for the upcoming challenge. What was your view from the top, literally and figuratively?
There was more snow at the peak this time around. As I stood high above the clouds, gazing into the far away Serengeti plain, I recalled what it took to get there, reliving the arduous trek that leads across The Saddle between the two volcanoes of Mawenzi and towering Kibo. Howling winds, blazing sunshine, and the haze over Kibo Hut Camp, which made it appear to get further away with every step. I recall us collapsing in the shade of some boulders to hide from the elements. Now all this hard work and pain was put aside – it had been so worth enduring.
LE: You mentioned that that you were awakened for the summit attempt somewhere between 11PM and midnight and began the ascent with aid of headlamps, reaching Gilman’s Point in time for sunrise over the distant Serengeti plains. When you eventually summited, what was your most vivid thought as you lead 9 novice climbers to the top and made so many dreams come true?
HARSH: “Kili is a special place in Africa and certainly for all mountain climbers. As I reached the top, I felt gratitude towards Mother Nature and the serenity of the place brought forth images of Buddha. Though drained, a sense of calm descended upon me for a few moments. Kilimanjaro may be a non-technical climb, but very arduous and much harder than meets the eye. Five to six hours of trudging up generally well-graded zigzags––this way and that, backwards and forwards in the dark, and uphill all the way––had stretched our bodies beyond their limit. At the summit I cast these thoughts aside as the enormity of the achievement slowly enveloped me.”
HARSH: “Every turn, rocky outcrop, and mountain stream brought back thrilling memories of my last Kili climb. Its landscape changes every day, beginning with thick rain forest which transforms into montane forest, desert moonscapes, and finally to volcanic ash and rocky wastelands. But all the memories came back in pieces as each day passed. I don’t recall it being as windy as this summit though.”
His vivid poignant pictures of vast desolate landscapes caught my imagination. His fun candid shots of the team brought a wide smile to his face and mine. I wanted to dig a little deeper into the xplor.earth team’s unique experiences, so I asked about their most cherished memories.