Kilimanjaro 2024

Follow our journey.

February 28, 2023 -(Rare Disease Day) Planning Begins

Embark PTEN TEAM itinerary

Meet the TEAM: (Links to each fundraising journey page will be shared soon)

Kristin Anthony

Jordan Pazian

Marie Eve Lusignan

Dominic Turcotte

Caroline Gascon

Will Cook

Pete Robertson

Ken Smith

Edward Sasser

Kilimanjaro Recap by Kristin Anthony

Our eight-day adventure climbing Kilimanjaro on the Lemosho route was an unforgettable journey filled with challenges, triumphs, and camaraderie. From the moment we set foot on the trail, strangers quickly became like family as we bonded over our shared goal of raising awareness for PTEN Hamartoma Tumor Syndrome disease and battling our limitations. The weather threw us some curveballs along the way, with rain, wind, heat, and snow making the trek even more demanding. But we pushed through, supporting each other every step of the way.

The scenery at the different camps was remarkable, starting with lush rain forest and beautiful monkeys and ending at Mti Mikubwa, which means “big tree,” to the Shira Plateau, one of the highest plateaus on earth. The view of Kibo Peak is remarkable. My first-night camping at Mt. Mikubwa was interesting. Diamox makes you go to the restroom often. I woke to visit the well-maintained chemical potty and heard screeches in the forest! I quickly returned to our tent and was later awakened by high winds whipping through camp. We headed to Shira 1 from Mikubwa. My favorite part at Shira 1 was watching sleet-like snow as we got ready for bed. Also, listening to the song, and dancing with our team the next day. It was an indescribable experience. From Shira 1 we headed to Shira 2 passing giant Senecios and other beautiful plants. We headed to Lava Tower from Shira Plateau, affectionately called Sharks Tooth, and back down to acclimate at Barranco Hut. The elevation gain and loss were exhausting but prepared our bodies for summit night. From Barranco Hut camp, we headed to Karanga camp. We ascended the Barranco Wall roughly 847 feet. Many of us battled fear of heights and excited anticipation to this point, but everyone did fantastic. The view of the valley below from the top was amazing.

Reflecting on all the happy memories, I think of family. Our group of 9 acquaintances, including my sister Jordan and me, and three wise and seasoned climbers, our Kaka’s, that means brothers, or Baba’s that means fathers, quickly became like a family. We cheered each other on, supported each other in difficult times, and shared a lot of laughs. We certainly had a lot of humor on our journey. I often wondered if we were the most exuberant group that Frederick, Marc, Tumani, Leonz, and the gang had ever encountered. We were a loud but smiley bunch. The four ladies in our group all have a personal connection to PTEN, over which we quickly bonded. Experiencing Kilimanjaro with these beautiful souls was one of the most memorable experiences of my lifetime and the beginning of future experiences.

Summit night was daunting; we were awakened at 10:00 PM for a light breakfast and preparation for our 11:00 PM ascent. I am betting everyone was a little scared like me. As we began our climb, we were in awe of the twinkling lights of Moshi below while focusing on the boots in front of us, trudging up the mountain. We started with our head torches and layers to add on or off as needed. I can best describe the grind as being lost in your thoughts with dreams of reaching the top. It can be terrifying watching people around you in other groups struggle, but you must press on! Our team was phenomenal, cheering P-TEN and “One Team, One Dream.” I lost a little oomph heading up, but my Kili family kept me going strong. We focused on PTEN patients and why we attempted such a difficult physical feat. When we finally reached the summit, it was a moment of pure joy and celebration. We hugged, cried, and cheered as we looked at the breathtaking view from the roof of Africa. None of this would have been possible without the incredible support and guidance of our embark guides and porters and our focus on PTEN. They worked tirelessly to ensure our safety and success, and we are forever grateful for their expertise and dedication.

After summiting, the descent was particularly tough, with steep terrain, loose scree, and slippery snow melt paths testing our endurance. But with the help of our guides and porters, we made it down safely. One porter, Belthezar, grabbed me by the arm to keep me from slipping. I was very grateful! We were utterly exhausted When we finally made it back to Barafu camp. The group collectively asked that we hike to a middle point instead of Mweka due to exhaustion, and three of our septuagenarians decided to pool resources to Helicopter out of the park because the descent we had left was technical and challenging. After summiting, they wanted to stay safe. The team hiked two and a half hours after packing up to Millennial camp. Many of us didn’t eat at dinner due to being tired, and we all slept through the night for the first time since beginning our adventure. The next day, we packed, ate breakfast, and began our rapid descent five-hour hike to our exit gate. It was a muddy slog down a riverbed that had us all a tad cranky, but we powered through, excited to get to the bottom and celebrate our adventure. Embark prepared a grand celebration at a restaurant just off the mountain. We sang, danced, and reminisced about our time on Kilimanjaro. Our Kilimanjaro adventure was a once-in-a-lifetime experience that brought us together in ways we never imagined. We will remember this journey’s memories with us forever, knowing that we achieved something remarkable.

PTEN Hike to Stomp out Cancer

Our PTEN Hamartoma Tumor Syndrome fundraising hike was a huge success. We hosted over 50 hikers and raised $2500! We are very grateful for the support our community, family and friends. We also want to thank Mountain High Outfitters and Dunkin’ Hampton Cove for their fantastic support and for giving their time for our PTEN community.