The team started off cheerily enough, taking the bus to the Kilimanjaro National Park where water bottles were filled, explanations and directions given, and backpacks donned. Day one saw them take a relatively easy start on a leaf-covered wide paved walkway through a forest.
The weather didn't co-operate though, as rain accompanied them most of the way up the climb. All was going well on day two, Alberto Contador says, even though it rained and the tents were soaked. "But even if it was wet, we slept well," and "the important thing is to have good spirits."
The easy walking turned into climbing and became slower and more difficult, while shorts and t-shirts gave way to long pants and jackets. But there were still lots of smiles.
On the third day, Contador noted that they had overnighted at 3800m and many woke up with headaches.
Teamwork played an important role that day. Previously, the team had been divided into smaller groups but on this day, team manager Bjarne Riis announced that on the difficult route, they would all go in one big group. Those who arrived first at the lunch camp were to stack their backpacks and go back down to help those who were having difficulties.
The group still managed smiles as the posed for photos in the boulder fields but the altitude and fatigue were beginning to show.
It was a middle of the night climb to the top, where the team posed proudly for photos at "the top of Africa," before heading down again.