Summit Day!!!!!!!!

Summit Day!!!  As I write this, Howard, Max and Ben should be reaching Uhuru Peak – the summit of Mt. Kilimanjaro at 19,341 feet!  They woke up at 4:00 AM to summit today.  As it is now 10:30 PM Chicago time, they should be just about there!   When we spoke to them this morning, they said the hike yesterday was cold, rainy and snowy but that now it is too cold for rain so they expect snow only!  It’s a really long day for them today because not only did they rise early to summit (a 4 hour climb on its own) but they then plan to hike another 8 hours down to a camp at an elevation of 12,500 feet.  So I don’t expect to hear from them again until around noon tomorrow.

They are feeling good and are in very high spirits!  This is the culmination of a long 4 years filled with unexpected twists and turns, starting with Howard’s reaction to the malaria pills and their untimely and disappointing descent to Ben’s broken collarbone and putting it off another full year, yet continuiing to train throughout. They have all trained so hard and had to keep their goal in mind with both physical and mental stamina.  As we’ve always told the boys, this has been more about the journey than the end goal.  They have learned so much and I am so very excited for them all!  If they can do this, they can accomplish anything because they now know that success takes a lot of time, effort and follow-through.  It doesn’t come easy or quickly or without its pitfalls.

I believe they will be seeing the sunrise on the summit of Africa so I will end with this photo.  What a gorgeous view!  When they send me photos, I will share them with you!

3rd Day Climbing

Mount Kilimanjaro is Africa's highest summit at 5895 meters tall (19,341 feet). Kilimanjaro is a giant dormant stratovolcano, famous for its glacial cap and wide biodiversity, particularly its cloud forest. Montane ocotea forests cover the wet southern slope, cassipourea and juniperus forests on the dry northern slope, and subalpine Erica forests at the highest elevations above 4000 meters.
Photo credit:  Photograph by National Geographic Channels/ Rob Taylor

Mount Kilimanjaro is Africa’s highest summit at 5895 meters tall (19,341 feet). Kilimanjaro is a giant dormant stratovolcano, famous for its glacial cap and wide biodiversity, particularly its cloud forest. Montane ocotea forests cover the wet southern slope, cassipourea and juniperus forests on the dry northern slope, and subalpine Erica forests at the highest elevations above 4000 meters.

Today Howard, Max and Ben will climb to 12,500 feet and spend the night at Shira 2 Camp. We were excited to hear from them again this morning with our second satellite phone call! The reception was actually pretty good!  Since it is summer in the southern hemisphere and they are close to the equator, it is 90 degrees in Arusha.  In 3 days of climbing they have dropped 50 degrees and are definitely headed into subzero snow conditions.  

Some Interesting Facts from National Geographic:

  • At 5895 metres (19,341 feet) tall, Mount Kilimanjaro is the tallest free-standing mountain in the world (rather than being part of a mountain range).
  • It now takes the average person a minimum of between 6 to 9 days to reach Kilimanjaro’s summit, depending on which of the 6 available routes is taken. The success of ascending to the summit is also dependent on which route is taken – the overall average of successful ascent to the peak is 45%.
  • Glaciers constantly evolve. They melt and shrink in dry season but regenerate in the wet. However, since 1912, Kilimanjaro has lost 82% of its ice cap, and 55% of its remaining glacier fields since 1962. Scientists predict all ice on the mountain may disappear within the next 20 years.
  • Kilimanjaro supports five ecosystems: savanna bush land, sub-montane agro-forest, montane forest belt, sub-alpine moorland and alpine bogs, and the alpine desert.

Second Day Climbing

Dec. 16, 2014

This morning Shayna and I received our first satellite phone call!  Howard called to let us know they had reached Forest Camp and were getting settled.  As I write this they are waking up for their second day of the climb.  Today they will continue walking in the Rain Forest zone.  They will go through 5 separate temperate zones on the climb.  Tonight they will stay at the Shira 1 camp at 11,500 ft. elevation.  They have seen Colobus and Blue Monkeys.  Here is a visual of the Lemosho Route.

Umbwe Route Map 3d

Lemosho Route profile

Thank you to Ultimate Kilimanjaro for their awesome visuals and detailed information.

…Aaaaaaand they’re off!!!

Dec. 15, 2014

Today was a stellar day communication-wise!  Shayna and I got to talk to our boys twice!  This morning they called to wish us a good morning.  They had spent the day poolside doing homework and resting from the long airplane rides.  They unpacked and repacked for the climb and met with Steve to prep. Then they walked around Arusha a little bit.  They called again at 9:00 PM our time after they woke up (it was 6 AM Tuesday morning for them).  As I write this, it is 9:00 AM for them and they are in the car for the 3 hour ride to the location where they check in for the climb known as Londorossi Gate.  They have to pay the fee and sign the register.  Then they’re off with a short 5 hour hike to their first camp site – Forest Camp.  They are climbing the Lemosho Route.

The Lemosho Route is widely considered to be the best route on Mount Kilimanjaro. Not too long ago, there were only two main routes used to climb Kilimanjaro – the Marangu (Coca Cola) route and the Machame (Whiskey) route. But as Tanzania’s tourism industry flourished, the Kilimanjaro park authority created more trails to African’s highest peak.  Lemosho, a relatively new route, is preferred by reputable operators due to its beauty, remoteness and success rate. In short, it maximizes the chances that a climber will reach the summit, and enjoy the experience overall.

Day 1

•Londorossi Gate to Forest Camp
•Elevation (ft): 7,800ft to 9,500ft
•Distance: 6 km
•Hiking Time:3-4 hours
•Habitat: Rain Forest

The trek begins at Londorossi Gate, located in the western base of mountain, within its lush, fertile rainforest. The route heads across the Shira Plateau, before circling along the southern circuit halfway around the mountain, exposing the climber to great views from all angles. The approach to the summit is made from the east, and the descent follows the Mweka trail. With eight days (seven nights) on the mountain, your chances of reaching the “Roof of Africa” are very high, around 90%.  The Lemosho route is approximately 70 km/ 42 miles from gate to gate. It is designed for physically fit people with some hiking experience. The table below depicts a variation of the 8 day Lemosho climb with starting and finishing points, altitude, distance and hiking time. This is considered to be the ideal Lemosho route variation.

Here is a short video showing some of the amazing scenery on the Lemosho Route.

Africa’s Highest Summit

Kilimanjaro, the highest mountain in Africa and fourth highest of the Seven Summits, is considered the tallest freestanding mountain in the world, rising 15,100 feet (4,600 meters) from base to summit. Kilimanjaro is also the most prominent mountain in Africa.

Arrived Safely

Hello!  This is the first post for Operation Climb: Magen David Adom – The Sequel.  Howard, Max and Ben left the house yesterday afternoon at 1:00 PM (Chicago time), arrived in Amsterdam around midnight our time and then arrived at their hotel, The African Tulip, in Arusha, Tanzania at 1:00 PM our time. So it is a full 24 hours door-to-door.  They called and I was able to talk to them for about five minutes.  It was 10:00 PM Sunday night for them and they had just ordered dinner and then were going to bed.  I expect to hear from them again tonight around 11:00 when they wake up.  Then tomorrow morning they plan to call us again between 7-8 AM to talk to Shayna.  After that, it will be hit or miss as they will begin climbing Tuesday morning.  They are 9 hours ahead of us.

They were in good spirits when they left.  They got really lucky as one of their bags broke as they were carrying it out to the car and they were able to trade it out!  This time, Grandma Dolly and I were also more prepared. We actually left about 5 minutes before they did and took Shayna straight to the American Girl store on Michigan Ave. to get her first AG doll.  Howard, Max and Ben also left us voice messages so we can hear their voices whenever we want.  Howard read about 10 chapters of the book they’ve been reading together into her iTouch so Shayna can continue the nightly ritual.

People ask me why I am “letting” them do this again.  First of all, you need to understand that they didn’t ask for my permission.  When it ended so abruptly last time, I knew they would be going back.  In fact, until Ben broke his collar bone in a soccer game, they were supposed to go last year at this time.  They’ve never stopped training so in effect, they have now been training for a total of 4 years and Howard felt that it was “unfinished business.”  He knew that while he made the right decision last time, the boys didn’t get to complete the climb and reach the summit and it was through no fault of their own.  If you know my husband, you know that nothing goes “unfinished”.  Plus, they still haven’t raised enough money for their ambulance and now it is needed in Israel more than ever.

And so here we are…a little older, a little wiser…  Last summer, Howard tried a different malaria medicine which is easier on his system.  Plus, this year, we have a 2 year relationship with their guide, Steve and his family.  In fact, Steve’s son, George, is an email pen pal of Ben’s.   George is joining them on the climb too!  In fact, Steve and George picked them up from the airport (an hour drive each way).  I like that they have global awareness and friendships with people around the world.  So it’s different this time.  Howard and I have agreed that if he has altitude sickness, Max and Ben will continue without him.  I hope and pray that doesn’t happen but as we learned two years ago, “Expect the unexpected.”   I feel confident that they will summit this time!  I will continue to keep you updated as best I can!


Update: Letter

[embeddoc url=”” width=”960″ height=”1000px”]

Climb Update

Hello Everyone!

Today the guys trekked past 14,000 feet.  Unfortunately James started to experience Altitude Sickness and eventually decided it was best for him to return to Arusha so he descended.  Max, Ben and Howard trekked onward.  Then after dinner, Howard developed high blood pressure.  He determined that he couldn’t take any chances so he decided to return and get medically checked out.  Max and Ben were feeling fine but since James was gone and Howard and I had made a pact that he would not leave them without one of the adults; when the lead guide offered to continue and summit with Max and Ben tomorrow they declined.  So they all started to descend.  At this point it was dark as they trekked downward 4 hours to a location where a recovery vehicle could reach them.  Then they went straight to the hospital.  They called me when they finally got back to the hotel at 4 AM.  James and Howard are fine.  They’re all disappointed.  Still they did an amazing feat!  It took them 5 days to get to the level they were at so they can’t go back to finish unless they do it on another trip!  I am incredibly proud of them!  They will take a couple of days to recover and then they have a safari to look forward to so I am sure they will end their adventure on a high note!  I can’t wait to see them and hear all of their stories!  They will continue to fundraise until they reach their goal of purchasing an ambulance!  So three cheers for my heros – Howard, Max, Ben and James!!!!!!  If the world had more people like them in it, it would be a much happier place!  I will have them update the blog with their stories upon their return!  Thank you all for your support!


Update from Kilimanjaro and Operation Climb


So if you count a garbled phone call where all I heard was “Hi it’s me.” before it ended, then yes I have heard from Max, Ben, Howard and James this  morning.  However, since I know Mrs. Stickler’s class is following Ben’s trek and their last day of school is tomorrow, I will use the information from the guide so everyone will know the plan which I can only assume they’re following to stay on track with the pacing.

Day 3 (yesterday):  A 3-4 hour trek from Shira 1 to Shira 2 Camp where they will camp at 3,840 M.

Day 4 (today):  Trek from Shira 2 to Moir Camp (about 3 hours) where they will camp at 4,200 M.

Day 5: (Friday):  It is a 3 hour trek to Lava Tower Camp.  They will camp at 4,600 M.

Day 6: (Saturday):  From Lava Tower Camp, trek 2 hours to Arrow Camp for rest and lunch.  Then continue on for another 3 hours to the rim of the crater for dinner and overnight at the camp on the crater rim.

Day 7: (Sunday):  Rise in to time to begin final ascent to the top of Kilimanjaro.  It’s a 1 hour hike to Uhuru Peak, followed by the descent to Mweka Camp (4 hour trek) for overnight.

Day 8: (Monday):  Trek 3-4 hours to reach the Mweka Gate to pick up your Summit Certificate before returning to Arusha.

Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro takes you through 4 separate eco-systems.  You start in montane forest, weaves through a rain forest, hits an alpine desert and ends in arctic conditions.



Update from Kilimanjaro 2


Today was the first day of climbing.  Arriving at the base of the Lemosho Route, they trekked 4 hours to Forest Camp.  The altitude at Forest Camp is 2,650 M. Tomorrow they will trek from Forest Camp to Shira 1 Camp (another 4-5 hours of trekking) where the altitude is 3,610 M.  It’s hard to remember that their days are our nights so try to think of it this way:  At 10 PM in Chicago they are waking up to a new day at 7 AM.  By the time we wake up at 8 AM it is 5 PM for them and they are probably making camp for the night.  So they are trekking while we are sleeping. I hope that at Shira Camp their phone will be able to work so I can get another personal update.  It was strange to celebrate Howard and my 19th Wedding Anniversary with him being out of communication range.  For all of you that are “checking up on us”, THANK YOU!  Shayna and I are feeling an abundance of love as so many of you are calling to see how we’re doing that I can barely return all the calls and Facebook messages.  More soon!

Best, Anne

Operation Climb Update

Hi Everyone

So I’ve heard from Howard, James, Max and Ben.  They are 9 hours ahead of us.  The weather is beautiful – 75 degrees and the 7 day forecast for the mountain looks good.  Unless it changes it should be around 17 degrees on the summit on Sunday – the day they plan to summit!

Their first interesting experience was that as they were coming in for a landing, the airport turned on the runway lights for their plane.  Apparently the runway lights are only turned on as needed.

Their hotel is very nice and they are eating every meal there as they feel it is the safest bet.  If you want to check out the hotel they are staying at The African Tulip.  Today they met with their guide who reassured them that he has led over 300 expeditions to the summit.  It took them about 3 hours today to unpack and repack to best meet their needs on their hike.

This afternoon they ventured into the market.  On the way in James was approached by a man who wanted him to hire him to “guide” them through the market.  Max described the market in Arusha in this way “Remember the market in Tel Aviv?  Now multiply that by 50% grossness and that is what this market was like.”  Pretty gross!  I think that this will be an eye-opening experience in so many ways for my boys!  I think they will really appreciate the lives they lead even more after seeing how others live!

Ben’s favorite discovery is that in Swahili the word hello is “Jambo.”  However, “Jamba” means fart.  Therefore here in the USA “Jamba Juice” translates into “fart juice.”  He thinks this is hysterical.  Apparently someone at that company didn’t do their homework when they were deciding what to name it.  I don’t think I’ll be visiting Jamba Juice for awhile.

Howard tells me not to expect to hear from them for a couple of days.  They have been told that their phone will work after they reach a certain elevation which is about a 2-day climb to reach.   So you can expect another update in a couple of days!