A year in the making, The Kilimanjaro Project is finally complete.
In fact, it’s been exactly a year in the making.
At midnight on June 11, 2010, our team left the dining tent after a late-night breakfast and began our assault on the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania. It was one year ago today.
The glow of the moonlight and the beams of our headlamps lighted our path as our lead guide, Joshua Ruhimbi, set a steady but comfortable pace during the six-hour march to the crater rim.
The air grew thinner by the step, and fatigue set in by the time we took a break at 6 a.m. to watch the sun rise. From there, it was an adrenaline-fueled final hour to the summit at Uhuru Peak.
In the months since then, and during the past 48 hours in particular, that week on the trail — and those memorable hours of darkness during the push to the summit — came racing back into my consciousness. At times while piecing The Kilimanjaro Project together I felt like I was back on the trail.
This final video was the most moving to craft, however. It was the toughest to put together, from the song selection to the clips that are used and how the story should be told. In addition to having minimal material to work with during the six-hour climb through darkness, this was the moment all of us dreamed of for months — if not years.
You’ll notice in the video the sound of Joshua, our fearless leader, talking to us during the summit assault. He was constantly talking, uttering the “pole, pole” cadence to set our pace, as well as checking in with each climber to determine our health and reminding us to constantly keep hydrating. Also in the video, you’ll hear heavy breathing in the thin air as we go above 19,000 feet. You’ll also hear the joy and relief in our voices upon reaching the summit.
Prior to the start of our journey we were advised to, upon reaching the summit, turn in a circle and snap pictures in every direction. The reason for that is because most people are so fatigued by the time they reach the top that most memories of the half hour or so at the summit are fuzzy. Sure enough, by the time I was back in my tent at Horombo it felt like days since we’d been at the top; by the time I landed in the United States if seemed like months ago. This video transported me back to the summit, however, and immediately I felt back in the moment.
A year ago I didn’t anticipate putting a big video production together, but by pooling resources with my fellow climbers we had more than 1,000 photos, numerous video clips and a lifetime of memories that needed to be retold. I will forever be indebted to Jeff Patra for his friendship, as well as his excellent photo skills and his superb video lens that produced at least half of the content for this project. I also will forever be indebted to Jeff and our fellow climbers Claire, Jonathan, Zephan, Geoff and Peter for sharing the experience and making it so much fun; our lead guide Joshua for his friendship, wisdom and leadership; and the extensive support staff who helped us every step of the way on our journey.
Standing on the summit of Kilimanjaro was the experience of a lifetime, and one year later I’m glad this project is complete.
View the earlier parts of the project here.