"a fleet of D110 rescue vehicles" rescued them from a "rainforest full of dangerous, hungry animals."
Josh, where did you get this info?! In case anyone is interested, here's what really happened:
We took the Western Breach route (you can search google images for "kilimanjaro map"). That meant following the Shira route, and after a few days, stopping for a full day at Barranco camp before backtracking a little to go to Lava Tower, Arrow Glacier, crater camp, then the summit.
The main reason for that route, which is much longer than the others, is that it gives you much more time to acclimatize. And instead of continuously gaining altitude, you go up and down a bit. The actual physical activity of walking up that mountain is pretty tough, but altitude is what stops a lot of people (the other big factor is stomach problems). So that route is harder than most, but has a higher chance of success because you're less likely to get altitude sickness.
The problem was that my uncle got some sort of stomach sickness. It was really bad, so he and my dad made the decision to get to the bottom asap. From where we were at Barranco camp, the Umbwe route goes to one of the gates at the bottom. I'm not sure, but they may have deviated from that route towards the end, since there are emergency routes for trucks that go partway up the mountain. Either way, here is what I found online about that route:
The Umbwe Route is widely regarded as the hardest trail, a tough vertical slog through the jungle, in places using the tree roots as makeshift rungs on a ladder.
How difficult is the Umbwe Route?
Despite its reputation as the toughest trek, the Umbwe Route is still a non-technical climb. Taxing, but not technical. All you need are an iron will and calves of steel; this is truly a trek to test your mettle. The difficulty is that itís so damn relentlessly uphill. Indeed, looking back on the first couple of days we can think of very few places where you actually descend, the longest being the five minutes or so at the end of the second stage when you walk down to the Barranco Campsite.
Also, at this point I should mention that descending is harder than ascending. Very few climbers take that route on the way up, and absolutely zero take it on the way down. Think about when you're extremely sore, especially your quads, and you're trying to tackle some stairs. The way up is tough, but on the way down you have to brace yourself on the bannister. My dad and my uncle were descending 7,000 vertical feet in that state of fatigue - with no bannister, and tree roots as stairs. I was glad I wasn't with them.
So anyway, they took that route and met the truck. It took the driver all day to get to where he met them, and quite a few hours in the evening and night to get back to the bottom. It was just one truck, and no dangerous, hungry animals.
That was in March '03, but we didn't get the 110s until the spring of '05. My dad bought the first one to use for the cigar promotions. Then he saw the other one on ebay and decided it was too good of a deal to pass up. But, like most things that are too good to be true.... it was kind of a piece of junk that just looked good. It's one of those 110s that's built from imported parts, and it had a VIN issued by the state of Utah. It was also an automatic, which essentially turned it into the status-junkie equivalent of an even rarer G-Wagon. Living in NJ, it was easy for us to sell (at a handsome profit) within 12 hours of deciding to get rid of it.
I still can't believe this, but I don't think I ever took any photos of either 110. I guess I never thought about taking pictures of something that I could just go in my driveway and look at. The only pictures I can find are of the "real" one from before we bought it.