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DELMAR: Reaching new heights

Though the support staff made it easier for the group to go up Kilimanjaro, the 11 campers had to traverse the final stage to the summit with only the help of their guides. What's more, they had to do so mainly in the dark.

"We got a wake-up call from our guide at about 11:30 at night saying we had to be starting our ascent at midnight not that anyone slept," said Mark Bryant. "You were very anxious about the hike, and you were starting to feel (the altitude) at that point."

Aided only by the headlamps they wore, the group slowly made their way up the final 3,000 feet to the summit.

"I think we were all a little surprised (at the beginning of the trip) at how slowly we were going to walk," said Fashouer. "But on summit day, that's how fast you walked. And I still found myself going two or three steps and then taking a couple of deep breaths."

The payoff came at around 7 in the morning on the sixth day of the climb as each member of the group reached the summit. The Bryant brothers " who took two weeks off from the family's business " reached it together and posed for a picture holding the company's banner.

"I think when we got to the top, it was so emotional for us because we felt very fortunate to be up there together," said Jeff Bryant.

The others followed at their own pace, each determined to make it to the summit.

"It didn't make any difference if you were at the front of the line or the back of the line. You were going to make it," said Brennan.

"The friendship was unparalleled," said Markert. "Everybody was single-minded in getting to the top. Nobody wanted to be the one not to make it to the top."

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