by Steve Baskis
November 17, 2011
After climbing in Nepal in 2010 with the Soldiers to the Summit gang, I was motivated to climb another big mountain in the world. Kevin Churilla, a mountain guide and new friend I met on the Nepal trip had spoke about his organization K2 Summits and a trip to the roof of Africa. Kevin told me about this trip to climb the tallest mountain on the African continent, he explained that it would be an amazing experience and a trip that I should plan for the future. I told him when we were still deep within the mountains of Nepal that I would definitely be interested and would let him know as soon as we left the Himalayas.
When I arrived in Tanzania, my friend Brian Mockenhaupt and I were shuttled off to the lodge we would be staying at before the big climb. Brian had climbed with me previously on the Soldiers to the Summit expedition and would be guiding me the majority of the time on Africa’s tallest peak. The place we were staying at reminded me of a lodge I stayed at 10 years before when I first visited Africa. In my mind I visualized a rustic and wood constructed building, simple but strong and sound. Circling the main lodge building were the smaller designed living quarters, all equipped with toilets, showers and beds. The beds were sealed behind a thin light weight curtain, which protected us from insects as we slept during the night. All in all, the lodge was very modern and comfortable, a nice place to relax and prepare for our Kilimanjaro climb.
Before the climb we did some humanitarian and volunteer work in a city named Moshi. Moshi, Tanzania is located not far from Kilimanjaro and the Kilimanjaro airport. To this day I will never forget the sound of kids and people singing in the street as we approached the small school. Each one of the volunteers/climbers had a specific role to accomplish, whether it be administering medical aid or stocking the newly constructed medical building, there was something for everyone to do. My job was to hand out goody bags to the kids and as I did, I listened to each of their responses closely. The kids were not used to receiving gifts, especially gift bags that had a mirror within them. All I remember of that specific experience was the excitement and cheerful laughs from the kids examining their new gifts. If someone were to ask me, what was your favorite thing about your climb on Kilimanjaro? I would tell them about our volunteer trip in Moshi and the wonderful kids who greeted us when we arrived in Africa.
Brian wrote a great article and there is some video of the climb on Chicago Magazine.
Special Thanks to the following people and organizations for making this trip possible: