Mt. Kilimanjaro (19,339 feet)

My Mt. Kilimanjaro expedition was from December 5-11, 2004, and we summitted on December 10.  Mt. Kilimanjaro is the highest mountain in the continent of Africa and is the highest free-standing mountain in the world.  We climbed the Machame Route.  This was one of my favorite trips because I went with close friends.  In addition, the mountain is interesting and beautiful, with many eco-systems including a rain forest, grassland, moorland, heather, alpine desert, highland and glacier.  On summit day, we hoped to reach the summit and enjoy a beautiful sunrise.  Instead, we started and finished in a blinding snowstorm with almost no visibility.  The wind, sleet and snow were in our face all the way up the mountain.  We were barely able to snap one summit photo of the group before we hurried down to high camp.  We dedicated this climb to Danny Dougherty, a young man who died of cancer shortly before the trip.  Danny was like a second son to me.  After the climb, a group of us enjoyed a fabulous African safari, visiting 3 national parks.