The seven summits, the highest peaks of the 7 continents: Everest, Aconcagua, Denali, Kilimanjaro, Elbrus, Vinson, Carstensz! Trips, Statistics & information!
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Below is a tripreport and some pictures, sent in by Tony Biacco, one of our our Kilimanjaro client. Please send in your reports to reports @ and we will add them as well!


You can also upload your pictures on the images section, you can find all of Tony's pics here.
Tripreport: custom 7summits Kilimanjaro trip, Machame/Western Breach route, late 2003 by Tony Biacco



Oct 12th - Day 1 

I arrive at Denver International Airport, check-in, and find (not to my surprise), that they won't allow matches in my checked luggage. Unfortunately, it's one of the 10 essentials, but I have my backup magnesium, so i'll make do. I fly to Detroit, then Amsterdam, with no problems. 

On the way to Amsterdam, I sat next to a man going home to India. We didn't talk too much, except for how the personal enter tainment system on the plane was flakin' out. Funnily enough, I find out when I'm getting off the plane, the whole system is run under Linux embedded and X-windows! 


Amsterdam's airport was interesting, in that there are so many types of people there. AMS is a HUGE hub. People flying direct to Africa, Russia, Israel, India, you name it. I found my gate without any problem, ATMed a shitload of U.S. dollars, so as to use and exchange in Tanzania, and I was out of there! 



Oct 13th - Day 2 

I sat next to, on the plane to Tanzania (Kilimanjaro Airport), one of the most unlikely of people. This guy had a Vail, Colorado shirt on! So I was like, hey, another Coloradoan? He said that he lives in Atlanta now, but grew up in Greeley (about 1/2 hour from me). Still, a pretty small world. He's climbing Kilimanjaro too. A different route, and he's already climbed it once before. He gave me some Africa pointers, which were much appreciated. 

One amazing thing about this flight is that I saw the Alps in Europe, from above. The snowy peaks jutted up above the fluffy cloud layer and just looked so cool. I'm sure the pictures I took with my camera won't do them justice, as the camera had to focus through like 3 panes of glass to try and get a decent shot. The other good thing about this flight, was, 2 dutch flight at tendants that were soo hot. :-) The one had thin rimmed glasses, and I have a weakness for those. 


Unfortunately, by the time we got into Tanzania, it was dark, and we could not make out the mountain from the air. We landed, went through passport control, and were immedi ately helped with our luggage by teenagers carrying our bags, putting them on our bus, obviously for a fee. Tipping is a huge income over here for people, and they'll do just about anything for a tip. 

Our bus driver, "slim" was very cool. He talked very good English, and was quite friendly. "You feel right at home here" he would say. There were 4 other hikers on the bus. Greg, from Dublin, Ireland, Alexander/Sasha, from San Francisco.. clearly Russian, and Annet and I forget her husband's name, 2 newlywed Swedes on their honeymoon. 

Slim was kind enough to point out the sights on the way. Where the routes started, where the town of Moshi began, etc.. 


It took us about 45 mins. to get to the hotel in Moshi, which just seemed so out of place in this third-world town. The hotel is amazing for this place. Real beds, running water, lights, flushing toilets, garden lights, and even a swimming pool. I started to get to know Greg and Sasha, as we realized that we were doing the same route up the mountain (we were the only ones), and would be together the whole trip. 



Oct 14th - Day 3 

We get up at 6am, showered, ate breakfast (eggs, pineapple, cereal), packed up our gear, and waited for things to get organized with the outfitters, which took a while. When this finally happened, Greg, Sasha, and I jumped into the Land Rover with our gear, and headed out to the outfitter's office in Moshi. In the daylight we saw how run-down this town really is in most places. Few paved roads, farm animals wandering about, and people carrying bananas, wheat, and lettuce in huge baskets/ bundles on their heads. 


At the office, we met our guide, August, and sat down to dis cuss a climbing strategy, and get porters together. We again jumped into the Land Rover after this and headed for Machame gate (in a village of the same name), to start climbing. I remember us trying to see the mountain through the clouds on the way, mostly just getting views of the shoul ders of it. Sasha would say, "no, I don't believe it, it doesn't exist". 


And then when we first spotted it, summit and all, finally, I just stared in total awe, thinking, holy mother of god, look at this huge motherf**ker. And not just tall, but covering this massive area of land some 80 km east to west. At the gate, about 40 mins. through forest and sparse villages, we met everyone else starting the Machame route, signed in, and got acquainted with our porters. 

Once again we saw most of the people from previous days, and even at the lower camps on the way up. I had chosen to carry all my gear on this trip myself, about 45 lbs, which some people think is a little wacky, given the fact that porters usually do that for you. I wouldn't feel right if I didn't do it my self though.. I would have felt like a fraud. I remember one of the porters saying early on, "you strong American!"..they have a habit of leaving certain words out of their English sentences, as you would expect. "a", "an", "will", "do", etc.. I found myself starting to do this too when I tried to say something to them in English. 


The 1st day's climb was fairly moderate. The first half was slightly uphill, on this soft, almost squishy dirt through the jungle. We stopped for lunch, caught a passing shower through the jungle canopy and trudged out the last steep half slowly, up steps and through overgrown tree roots. 


We set up camp finally around 4pm, pitched our tents, sorted stuff out, and just hung out 'til supper at around 6, which was cucumber soup, jerky, potatoes, and some orangish cabbage. Apart from the dry jerky, everything was great. I put aside my partial vegatarianism for the trip, as I had little choice. This was is food. We drank tea until the sun set over the hills and headed to bed around 10:00 for a long sleep. 



Oct 15th - Day 4 

We got up around 7am today, ate breakfast, which was bread and a hard-boiled egg (which strangely enough, had a white yolk), closed up camp, and headed out for Shira Hut at 8:30, up a seemingly looong ridge. 

We found the climb shorter all-in-all, but harder and steeper today. We moved slowly up and down over the ridge, a lot of steps along the way, until a storm settled over and right on us at about 12,000 ft., bringing quite a bit of rain and hail. We hiked in this for about 15 to 20 mins. before waiting it out in Shira Cave, 200m from the next camp.


For the trek so far, we have passed and stayed ahead of the main pack of hikers (20?), and left Shira Cave when the pack finally caught up. The storm cleared up for the most part the rest of the way, and we had shed our rain gear by the time we hit our camp. Drizzles of rain were off and on at camp..

We set up our tents quickly and took some pics of the summit and glaciers as the clouds permitted. 

Greg remarked that the clouds parting from the summit was like a woman taking her clothes off. Clouds parting from the very top was the mountain taking her top off, and clouds parting from the base was the mountain lifting up her skirt. 

We had dinner around 6:30..chicken, a curry tasting rice, potato soup, and these thin parsley pancakes. Went to bed at about 7:15, which didn't prove good for sleeping at all, as it was just too long between then and 6am. I must have woken up 5 times during the night, as I wasn't tired enough to sleep for any more than 8 hours. 



Oct 16th - Day 5 

I woke up at 6am, before sunrise, to the beginnings of some cold weather.. frost on the ground and tent. Temperature had to be around 20F. Put on all of my clothes just about, and sat on a rock while the sun rose over the mountain. Had eggs, hot dogs (which they call sausage), toast, bananas, and an orange which looked like a lime! Green rind, oval, but tasted like an orange. Odd. 


Today's climb would vary from easy to hard. The first half was a series of slight steady inclines, and flats. 45 mins. into it I was warmed up, feeling really well, with little pain (surprisingly). I started smoking the trail like it wasn't anything, through volcanic basins and ridges, and made it up to the huge lava tower in what seemed to be record time. 

We broke here for a rest at something like 15,000 ft, before the last steep incline 1000 ft. up to Arrow Glacier camp. I tore this up too, chuggin' along, and was the first to reach camp. 


As I crested the ridge at 16,000 ft. I had this great sense of joy come over me, as the glaciers (now in close view) just awed me. I was feeling no effects of elevation yet no headache, no short breaths, no hallucinations. I was even feeling ready to do some more. I would have to save this extra energy for tomorrow though, as the ominous, steep Breach Wall ahead of us remained. 

We set up camp quickly again, as clouds rolled in steadily.. from above, from below, just from every direction bringing frequent light hail, and what looked like a scene out of Dr. Seuss's worst nightmare upon us. I took some time to solo rock climb lava towers close to camp, which seemed, at hard- est, around class 5.4 or 5.5. 


After this I got very tired, laid down for a nap, and didn't even feel like getting up for dinner. I forced myself though, since I was having some nausea from an empty stomach. I ate some, and went to bed around 7. I didn't sleep too much during the night, and the pattern seemed to be that as we went up in elevation, I slept less and less. 



Oct 17th - Day 6 

This would prove to be the hardest day of the trip, as expected. The Western Breach to the crater rim. 

On the way up I remember thinking, "This is torture that I would not wish on my worst enemy. One that doesn't love mountains, that is. For me, it's a day at the beach." This 3,300 ft. went very slow, something like 5 hours with some semi-rough, exposed scrambling but on a pure technical level, nothing worse than the Sawtooth ridge back home. Add on the elevation though, and it's a whole other ballgame. 

I finally started feeling elevation problems at around 18,200 ft., but nothing going pole-pole (Swahili for slowly-slowly) couldn't handle. 


At last we made it to the crater rim, and immediately this emotional wave came over me. Seeing the huge summit ice field, the vastness of the crater, the summit just 400 ft. above us, and accomplishing the Western Breach, just brought me so close to tears. It's quite possibly the happiest and proudest I've ever felt. 

We set up camp in the crater, just feet away from the base of the summit, close to 18,900 ft, and prepared for a short summit day. I again ate little for dinner, and the elevation just sucked the energy right out me. I didn't move a muscle without a good reason. In addition, we also noticed the elevation made us more on edge and agitated. I slept even less tonight, probably 2 hours in the 11 I laid down for. 



Oct 18th - Day 7 - Summit Day 

I swear there was thunder and lightning the night before. I didn't have the energy to look out of the tent, but I heard thunder, and a white flash came in the tent every 30 seconds or so. We awoke at 6am to new snow on the ground, and closed down camp. I wasn't feeling good at all when I got up, almost passed out taking the tent down, but after a little breakfast I was ok. 

I believe we left for the summit at 7. When we started the climb, I actually felt really strong, I'm not sure what changed. We went very slowly though, and by the time we reached the crest of the summit, I was still strong, saw the flats to the peak, and in a pure adrenaline rush, just kicked it into high gear, passing everyone, and running the last 100 ft. to the summit. 

I hugged our guide, August, thanked him, and just looked around with tears in my eyes. I sat down for a little, and then took out the necklace Elisa gave me 5 years ago, which hasn't come off my neck, and attached it around the summit sign as a thank-you gift to the mountain, and the gods of the mountain, for letting me climb it. 


We took pictures, shook hands, signed the register, and start- ed to head down all the elevation we had climbed in previous days. We downclimbed nearly 9,000 ft., some of which was on tons of loose scree (probably moraine left by glaciers long ago), so coming down was actually like skiing down, just on rocks instead of snow. We stopped at Barafu Hut for a little rest and water, and ended the day back into the climate zone where trees ACTUALLY exist, camping at Mweka Hut. 


Here we set up shop, and then just relaxed after our long downclimb, talking and drinking beer until nightfall. Tomorrow we'll finish down to Mweka Gate (2 hours?) and head back to the hotel. While I started the day with, I think, every piece of clothing on me, by the end, I was down to less than 1/2 of that. 



Oct 19th - Day 8 

Ah, finally a good night's sleep at a decent elevation. With a warm sunrise, what a perfect day to finish on. Today we finished out the last leg of the trek, back through the jungle, on Mweka trail. Greg and I quickly moved on ahead of the others, mostly to take pictures, as I hadn't taken many in the jungle on the way up. 

There was nothing to focus on now, and we could just relax and have a nice walk to the gate. I took many pictures of the jungle, mossy trees all around, and flora galore. 


Greg and I arrived at the gate quite early, almost an hour ahead of the rest of the group. We sat around and relaxed, until this girl came over to me (putting on a Wisconsin sweatshirt, which I can only assume was a ploy to relate to me), and proceeded to subtlely and then not so subtlely, hit on me (Greg still thinks she was a pro! i'm not sure). Then she wanted my email and my phone if!


When the rest of the group arrived, we signed things, paid people, and took a small hike down to the village, where many shops were around, selling trinkets, beverages (coke, water, etc..), and even soliciting t-shirts. Back at the hotel we said our goodbyes to August, and just took it easy. We met up with our south african friends that night in the hotel's garden patio, while we talked about our journeys and got drunk on well-deserved beer. I stumbled back to my room later on, and got some good rest. 




Oct 20th - Day 9 

After smelling up the mountain for 6 days, finally, this morning, a shower! Had some breakfast, then just hung out all morning listening to music, reading, and packing. (We leave this evening for back home). We sat down for a few drinks in the afternoon, and headed out to the airport, gear and all, around 6pm. 


Once there, we just hung out, talked, and drank for a while, waiting for our plane. Greg, Sasha, and I ended up on the same plane back to Amsterdam (they actually don't run often at all from here to AMS), but what a loooong ride back. Something like 12 hours on the plane. We had to first fly SOUTH, out of our way for an hour, stop for 45 mins. to pick up people, and then make up that distance with another extra hour, before making progress back towards Amsterdam. 


Once in Amsterdam, we had something to eat, talked, before saying goodbye to Greg (as his flight to Dublin was earlier than our flights to the U.S.). Sasha and I had a coffee, played on the internet, checking email and the like, until I had to go. Minneapolis, through customs, Denver, and home. 


What an amazing trip. The only thing that disappointed me a little was that we didn't see more wildlife. No elephants, giraffes, lions, hefalumps, woozles or even a snake maybe next time, probably a few years from now, when I go back to do some icicle climbing on kili's breach wall. But next, who knows we're thinking Mt. Elbrus in Russia, Vinson Massif in Antartica, or maybe for me a shorter trip, like the massive volcanoes of Mauna Loa and Mauna Kea, in Hawaii.