Raymond timed it perfectly.
He led the way through the night, walking, scrambling, resting. Bryan, Karen, and I followed, headlamps bobbing in a line. Slaa, a strong climber and experienced porter brought up the rear.* No one said much; each life was lived within the confines of the illuminated beams.
The sky warmed as our little troop crested the rim of the caldera.** We rested one last time behind some boulders, stomping feet and rubbing hands back to life, then rose. We turned off the lamps. Passing walls of glacial ice, the silhouette of the Kilimanjaro summit sign swung into view. I walked up the rise and grabbed it with a mitted hand.
The sun cracked the horizon and I shot this image.
I continue to marvel at Raymond’s timing. He set a pace for seven hours that put us on top of Kilimanjaro within 15 minutes of the sunrise.
*Our assistant guide, Ambrose, returned to base camp with Muhammad after he began experiencing trouble.
**We rested at Stella Point on Kibo’s rim. Stella Point marks the end of a difficult stretch of loose gravel on a steep slope. From here the grade is gentle to Uhuru Peak, the true summit of Kilimanjaro.
Raymond joins me for a sunrise selfie on the summit.
If you are a pastor, church leader, or educator who is interested in leading a trip to the lands of the Bible, let me hear from you. I partner with faith-based groups to craft and deliver outdoor academic experiences. Leaders receive the same perks that other agencies offer, at competitive prices, and without the self-serving interests that often derail pilgrim priorities.