In the twenty-first in our series of FrontlineSMS guest posts, Laura Hartstone – one of the organisers behind the “3 Peaks 3 Weeks” Challenge – updates us on their recent use of FrontlineSMS to provide daily climbing SMS updates to supporters around the world "Keeping in touch with family and friends while in Africa can be a challenge, and even more so while climbing Africa’s highest peaks. Remarkably, mobile phone connections can be picked up from the tall grass plains of the Serengeti to the tallest summit, Uhuru Point - Mount Kilimanjaro.
Every January a team of a dozen women from all areas of the world unite in East Africa to take on three of Africa's highest peaks. After fundraising the previous year for three "peak" issues affecting Africa - namely health, the environment and education - the teams aim to use their time in Africa as a holiday. Coined the "3 Peaks 3 Weeks Challenge", the team must complete all three mountains (Mount Kilimanjaro, Mount Kenya and Mount Meru) within 21 days.
To stay in touch with family and friends during the climbs in January this year, the 3 Peaks team used FrontlineSMS. With shaky internet connections in town and heavy power rationing in the cities this past year, the base camp computer was strategically placed in the Serengeti. At this location, the use of solar power and battery banks ensured that both internet and electricity were reliable.
The team then chose a phone (with the support of GSM Association) that had a small integrated solar panel to ensure the team could keep it charged while hiking. All that was then needed was a Safaricom SIM card that provided the team with mobile phone connectivity in both Kenya and Tanzania.
Ready to go, with mobile phone in hand, the team set off for Mount Kenya. Family and friends had subscribed to their FrontlineSMS group list and eagerly awaited updates. Luckily for all, along the way the team sent various SMS reports on their status.
Our sun dances are not working yet. The rain persists and snow arrived this morning. All well regardless and en route to summit tonight
All 11 of us just reached the top of Mt Kenya to a magnificent sunrise
Team was greeted by a beautiful sunrise on the summit of Mount Kenya yesterday morning. Have just arrived at Met Station (alt 3050m) and were greeted by some amazing singing by the porters. All doing really well and having a great time. Also a monkey ate our soap
After Mount Kenya the team traveled across the Kenyan border to Tanzania. They had a quick two days of rest and then headed up Mount Meru, a four day climb. Again with their mobile phone in hand, they kept all of their supporters well informed of their status.
Texting you from the summit of mount meru! Yeehaa! All tired and elated
The number of subscribers increased as the team headed for their final peak - Mount Kilimanjaro. And as they climbed higher, the texts got more and more interesting.
Celebrating Australia Day up here. Just reached top of Barranco Wall. Please send more milo!
We are preparing for summit night on kili tonight. We’re all excited and a little nervous too. The weather has been good so hoping for a beautiful sunrise in 12 hours time. Wish us well
And perhaps the most exciting message was received the next day.
We ROCK! All 11 of us summited Kili this morning at 715am. Delighted, excited and exhausted!
Many thanks to FrontlineSMS, the GSMA and Safaricom for helping make our LIVE updates brilliantly easy and exciting for our supporters to receive. 3 Peaks 3 Weeks is excited to use them again next year!"
[This story was also covered by the GSMA on their Development Fund blog].
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