The End of my Kilimanjaro Journey

Last week, I finally reached the end of my 2016-2017 Mt. Kilimanjaro Journey. I had the chance (finally!) to go back to my former school – St. Anthony – to present on our great trip to Mount Kilimanjaro this past April.

I had the great honour to present to all the students from kindergarten to grade 6. Each presentation was different, aided by a Google Slides presentation and lots of equipment from the climb.

The kids asked great questions and we had a really great time talking about high altitude and how to walk on a mountain.

I had the chance to use the new Google Earth to show a 3-D model of the mountain which was a great teaching tool when overlaid with the track we followed up the mountain.

a 3-D display of our route up to the top of Mt. Kilimanjaro using Google Earth and Inreach to track our group to the summit

Now I can finally say that my trip is over. The Kilimanjaro journey really started at St. Anthony when I decided to retire from the school so I could really train for the climb. We were able to raise almost $10,000 for Rec Link, a great organization that works with our families to provide recreation opportunities for our kids.

This was much more than a retirement adventure, it was a way to give back to these kids and this community.

Now that I have talked to the school community, I can move on to new challenges. Dream Mountains is getting ready for its next big venture – a trek to Mt. Everest Base Camp. I can’t sign up for this next climb until August, but I really hope I will be able to sign on. I love the idea of raising money for the community and I really want to challenge my body and mind again to take on a trek that is truly challenging.

Thanks to all the teachers and students of St. Anthony! Thanks to all those who supported me and helped raise an incredible amount of money for Rec Link and especially thanks to my family for being my great organizing committee.

We will soon see what comes up next.

Here’s hoping!!

The Barranco Wall – Don’t Look Down

Climbing the Barranco Wall

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Technical climbing

Climbing involving a rope and some means of protection, as opposed to scrambling or glacier travel.

Barranco Wall was one of many great challenges on our climb up Mt. Kilimanjaro. While some people contend that Kilimanjaro is a ‘non-technical’ climb, Barranco Wall really challenges this assumption.

Barranco Wall in the twilight

I looked up at Barranco Wall for the first time after an 11-hour trek in the rain. I remembered years ago planting trees in the mountains of British Columbia and remembered that I actually found mountains threatening and sometimes foreboding. Staring up at the wall, I actually could not see a way up the rock face. Intimidating for sure.

Heading out in the early morning to scale the wall.

There is a way up the wall, it reveals itself the closer you get to the rocky face. One by one we slowly made our way up a very steep incline. In writing this post, I looked over all the photos I have taken and really didn’t find any that do justice to the climb. I realize that even though I had four cameras with me, I was more focussed on getting up the wall in one piece.

One section of the climb is called the ‘kissing wall’ – at this point, you have to hug the wall as closely as possible and step over an open section of the rock face. We stepped out into the abyss to be caught on the other side by one of our wonderful guides. We followed their advice and did not look down!

An interesting thing about some of the really challenging portions of the Kilimanjaro climb, you really don’t have any chance but to go up. Your body can do this, you just have to will yourself to keep climbing, no matter what is behind you – just keep moving up the mountain.

 

scrambling up the rock face

Looking back on Barranco, I think this will be one of the moments I was proud of what I could do and what our team could accomplish. It takes a few days away from the mountain to really discern the moments that are unique and worthy of celebration.

Barranco was certainly one of those. We didn’t flinch, we climbed the wall.

Celebrating on top of the wall

Why we climb

Why did you climb Kilimanjaro?

This is a question many climbers may be asked in the next few weeks. It was gruelling and the climb tested our physical and emotional limits. Why did we do it?

There may be many reasons, but for everyone, part of the reason will certainly be the charities we raised money for. All climbers were expected to raise $5000.00 for a selected charity. Teams of climbers worked together on the featured charities. In my case, I raised money for Rec Link – a group that opens up recreational opportunities for kids and families in Ottawa inner city neighbourhoods.

Another one of the charities is SOS Children’s Villages, an international organization that works for children in 134 countries around the world. The children SOS works with are at risk due to the loss of parental care. In some cases, these children live in community with a house ‘mother’ who cares for children on a daily basis until they move on to other communities. SOS provides health care, education and a family-centered base for the development of the child.

We had the unique opportunity to visit a SOS community in Arusha once our climb was completed.

This was an important visit. It is rare that climbers get a chance to see what their money does and how their selected charity works. We do this work in the belief that all of our efforts will pay off and that the charity will be able to do a little more good work because of our efforts.

It really brings all this home when we actually get an opportunity to visit one of the projects that is associated with a Dream Mountain charity. I don’t think it matters a great deal where we visit or who we see. We all could have visited some of the neighbourhoods served by Rec Link and we would have heard similar stories.

The important thing to remember is this is why we climbed. It wasn’t for us, it was for others who we had the privilege to support through our fundraising efforts.  Our greatest success came before we ever touched ground in Tanzania.

We achieved something for people who we will never know. We worked as a good team and we raised over $200,000.

This is what counts and this is why we climbed.

Asante sana to our guides and porters on Mt.Kilimanjaro

Thank-you

Over the 8 days of our climb to the summit of Kilimanjaro, asante sana became one of the essential Swahili  phrases we all learned.

Asante sana to all our wonderful guides and porters – all 93 of them.

Our guides and porters all came from Zara Tours, based in Moshi, Tanzania.  (Twitter: https://twitter.com/zaratours)

Zara Tours is managed by Zainab Ansell, a creative and committed social entrepreneur who I wrote about last week.  Zainab employs all the porters and guides and has made a great effort to bring more stability to their lives by creating bank accounts for all employees so that payment for expeditions goes directly into their accounts to assist the families of Zara staff.

The porters carried everything we needed – food, water, much of our gear, tents, toilets – they were a moving village. Every day, they began our day with a hot cup of tea or coffee at our tents. They then supplied us with a great breakfast while filling up our water bottles and water bladders for the day’s climb.

They then broke up camp and scampered way ahead of us to set up camp for lunch and our night stay.

While we carried a small day pack, our porters carried everything else. The life of the climb flowed through them.

We were accompanied each day by our guides who stayed with us, checking on us throughout the day. On summit night, they were the ones who carefully watched us and cajoled us to keep going – slowly polepole. At one point, as we froze during the night ascent of the peak, the guides actually broke out in song and started dancing. I am not a great dancer, but I moved right along with them in order to warm up in the frigid dark.

The guides and porters took care of us.

After hurting my leg on the way down from the summit, several porters looked after me and eventually lighted my way to the next camp – almost in complete darkness. That was a really long day.

When climbers started to struggle down off the mountain after the long summit night, porters alerted to our level of exhaustion dropped what they were doing and climbed up the mountain to meet us and make sure we got down to base camp safely.

They did this because they were so committed to helping us – Canadians unknown to them only a few days ago.

On the last morning as we prepared to descend to the park entrance, everyone gathered to sing and dance in celebration of our collective achievement. We sang and danced with our guides and porters because we had become connected to these incredible people – our lifeline on the climb, our guides to the top.

Asante sana

Back from Kilimanjaro

The climb is over and the group is in the process of returning home to Canada.

The climb was a great success and almost the entire group summited on the night of April 8th after gruelling night ascent.

There is so much to write about – our wonderful porters, all 93 of them, our time in Moshi, the visit to SOS Children’s Villages in Arusha, all the incredible climbing days from the opening gate to the summit and back down again – the last day’s ascent, including 18 hours of climbing, trekking, falling and descending and much more.

It’s hard to know where to start, but I will do this as soon as we are home. Right now we are in the airport in Amsterdam waiting for our last flight to bring us home.

An incredible, hard, inspiring journey. The next step is really important, making sure all our supporters get a sense of how we fared over the past two weeks.

More to come – soon.

First stage on the way to Kilimanjaro

We are in Amsterdam! The first stage on our way to Kilimanjaro.

For the first time, our group is all together – 29 people collected in the waiting lounge waiting for the eight-hour flight that will bring us to Kilimanjaro.  Everyone is tired after the first flight, but excited to be one step closer to our objective.

It is great to meet people who we have only seen on the group website!  These are our climbing partners and the people we will all depend on for the next seven days.

We should all be exhausted – its 3:30 AM Ottawa time, but we are about to start something very special.

Also, the coffee in Holland is really good.

Next stop – Moshi and Kilimanjaro!

Starting on the way to Kilimanjaro

In three days we leave for Mt. Kilimanjaro.  Our journey has been a long one. Not just the training, a major component of this venture has been the fundraising. Today, we have raised over $214,618.00 this year and are over the $1 million dollar mark since 2011.

one of our many group shots during the training hikes on Wolf Trail

We have had a wonderful experience so far. I have tried to record as much as possible through blogging, Facebook, Twitter and Youtube.  Here is the latest video outlining the training we have done over the past six months.

Our team leaders have been wonderful – Shawn Dawson, Kristi Johnston and Jason Colley have been with all of us all the way.  I write this so that all readers will know who are responsible for all our training and fundraising.

These wonderful people have been supported by Darren Prashad, our travel coordinator and Don Penney, our webmaster.  We will soon be joined by a whole host of other team supporters.  Shawn has told us that our team heading up the mountain will total more than 100 people.  I hope to introduce you to some of them before we climb.

Our climbing team includes: Byron Johnson, Harry Binks, Crystal Borutskie, Natalie Shea, MaryAnne Ivison, Gillian Barth, Allison Burton, Augustina Dean, Bob Connolly, Virginia Gluska, Jeremy Post, Emily Fisk, Jamie Straw, Karlie Reinberger, Juli Baird, Vicky Castledine, Amanda McCambley, Kevin Brockville, Patrick Fitzgerald, Leta Woodford- Pearson, Troy Pearson, Malcolm Preston, Mark Straw, Megan Benoit, Heather Benoit, Greta Dounev and Roberta Brown

30 people, all climbing together.

The challenge now will be to find good ways for you the reader to follow us in Africa.

Our Canadian-Kilimanjaro Journey.clipular
layers can be added to this ESRI map so students should be able to track us up the mountain

This is the map we hope to use to track our progress up the mountain.

To find us on the mountain, you can go to this address:  https://share.garmin.com/PaulMcGuire

you will get an image like this: 

The obvious difference will be that the map that will show up will be from Tanzania.

Finally, to follow us up the mountain and to access the 3D map about, you will have to go to our ESRI Story Map

This is only a screen shot of the last page on the ESRI Story Map, but WordPress.com does not support embedding, so you will just have to go to the site yourself here:  http://arcg.is/2hwfHR3

Lots more to write about as we get ready, but I need to pack!

 

23 Days Until Kilimanjaro!

Every week, I have been putting out an e-mail note to the wonderful group that is supporting me.  Here is the text of my latest note.
There are now 23 days until our group leaves for Africa!
some of the group on one of our training treks in the Gatineau
We have all our gear and the training continues to go well.  This past Sunday I climbed ten sets (31 floors) in a new time – 1 hour and 51 minutes.  This may not seem all that interesting, but for us this is huge.  The only way to prepare for this climb is to get in the best physical shape possible.  There is no way to prepare for the lack of oxygen at the higher altitudes, you just have to work on what you can control.
heart and respiration rates on the stairs
We all continue to fundraise, which to me is the truly unique feature of this experience.  We are now over $165,000 for this year and over one million raised since 2011.
Many of you have contributed to this total and I thank-you for being active participants in this wonderful venture.
Together, we have raised $8695.00 for Rec Link and the Sens Foundation.  Well over the new goal set at $8000.00,  thanks to some really generous recent donations.
All this money goes to kids, so if you haven’t donated yet please consider making a contribution on my fundraising page.  You will automatically receive a tax receipt from Canada Helps for 2017.
Recently, I have been working on learning Adobe Premier Pro and have a new video out that shows some of the training we have done this year.  I will keep working on my film-making skills over the next few weeks.  You can see our latest video, Trekking to Kilimanjaro here.
 
This video will be added to our ESRI Story Map that also contains a 3D map of Mt. Kilimanjaro which we hope to use to show our progress up the mountain.
layers can be added to this ESRI map so students should be able to track us up the mountain

This is what tracking looks like – here, a variety of hikes in the Gatineau


For teachers who are part of this list, I hope you will have a chance to follow us through the Story Map starting March 30th.  I will be posting photos, video, text and our route to the Story Map whenever possible.
Thanks to my technical assistant, Liam McGuire for helping to make this possible and interesting for your students.
The link to follow me live using the InReach tool is https://share.garmin.com/PaulMcGuire
Currently, the page looks like this.
When a student clicks on one of the waypoints on the map, they will receive information on elevation, latitude, longitude and bearing.
I am really looking forward to sharing all this with you.  This is a venture we all will take part in.
 

Great Projects call for Great Communities Blog Post # 10

img_20170127_174848_244
To make a big climb and a wonderful fundraising project work you need lots of help.  You also have to acknowledge the people who are making this happen – after a great night last night, I have lots to be thankful for.
Thanks to everyone who was able to come out to our fundraiser last night.  It was great to see so many good friends and I feel truly honoured to have your support.
Thanks to long distance travellers like Patti Walker (Oakville), Joe Ferracuti (Montreal) and Bob and Karen Kennedy (Brockville).
Thanks to all those who made this happen – Shawn Dawson – our fearless Dream Mountains leader, Jenny, the wonderful Fatboys manager, First Bass – the amazing band (who we want to hear again!), my wonderful family – Heather Swail – who worked so hard to make this happen, Liam McGuire, Mairi McGuire – our artist – Colleen McGuire and Claire Maultsaid.  Also, thanks to Dream Mountains members Virginia Gluska, Julie Baird and her husband who did so much to run the silent auction and 50/50 draw.  Also to Harry Binks, Augustina Dean and Byron Johnson who came out to our event.
What a community effort!!
We are now approaching the $7000.00 mark in our fundraising efforts for Rec Link and we will keep on going to see how we all can assist this great organization.  We will continue to take donations, so let’s see how much we can raise for Rec LINK!!
Many are asking how best to follow the climb so I am adding the sites I will be using here. If you know of anyone who wants to follow and is not getting these notes, please let me know and I will add them here.
The sites:
ESRI Story Map:  Our Canadian Kilimanjaro Journey http://arcg.is/2hwfHR3
Sutori Story Board: https://www.sutori.com/story/our-kilimanjaro-journey Our Kilimanjaro Journey
Kuula – a growing collection of 360-degree photos – many more to come!

My fundraising page:  http://bit.ly/2bKfFkk – all donations are tax deductible

Thanks again – this is a great venture and I am very happy to have all of you on board!!
Paul

Hello everyone!

Thanks to everyone who was able to come out to our fundraiser last night. It was great to see so many good friends and I feel truly honoured to have your support.

Thanks to long distance travellers like Patti Walker (Oakville), Joe Ferracuti (Montreal) and Bob and Karen Kennedy (Brockville).

Thanks to all those who made this happen – Shawn Dawson – our fearless Dream Mountains leader, Jenny, the wonderful Fatboys manager, First Bass – the amazing band (who we want to hear again!), my wonderful family – Heather Swail – who worked so hard to make this happen, Liam McGuire, Mairi McGuire – our artist – Colleen McGuire and Claire Maultsaid. Also, thanks to Dream Mountains members Virginia Gluska, Julie Baird and her husband who did so much to run the silent auction and 50/50 draw. Also to Harry Binks, Augustina Dean and Byron Johnson who came out to our event.

What a community effort!!

We are now approaching the $7000.00 mark in our fundraising efforts for Rec Link and we will keep on going to see how we all can assist this great organization. We will continue to take donations, so let’s see how much we can raise for Rec LINK!!

Many are asking how best to follow the climb so I am adding the sites I will be using here. If you know of anyone who wants to follow and is not getting these notes, please let me know and I will add them here.

The sites:

My Blog: https://paulmcguire1.com/

ESRI Story Map: Our Canadian Kilimanjaro Journey http://arcg.is/2hwfHR3

Sutori Story Board: https://www.sutori.com/story/our-kilimanjaro-journey Our Kilimanjaro Journey

Kuula – a growing collection of 360 degree photos – many more to come!

My fundraising page: http://bit.ly/2bKfFkk – all donations are tax deductible

Thanks again – this is a great venture and I am very happy to have all of you on board!!

Paul

https://kuula.co/share/7ft6s

Writing Obama Blog Post # 8

“I won’t stop; in fact, I will be right there with you, as a citizen, for all my days that remain.”

—President Barack Obama, January 10, 2017

We need some hope.

Today, I found the link to President Obama’s new Twitter account and his foundation page. It starts with a really positive message.

When you go through the site, you are asked a few questions on what kind of positive initiative you would like to see happen. You are also asked to add an image and write about why it is important to you. I wrote this.

I think a good citizen is someone who contributes in a positive way to make things better for those in their community.  That community could be your neighbourhood, city, country or the entire world. We can all make a positive difference if we want to.

dream-mountains-logo

 

I am part of a group that will be climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro in March 2017.  I love this project because we get the adventure of a lifetime and at the same time, we raise money for a charity of our choice – mine is Rec LINK, a small organization that helps families in poor neighbourhoods access recreational services.

It would be great to do something like this in Guatemala or El Salvador – places more people need to explore and learn about.

That’s it – I got to write the President about Dream Mountains and its potential to continue to match adventure and social justice – something I really hope will happen in the future.

I am really glad he asked.