My blog from my trek up Kilimanjaro in January 2007.
The final Push - Kilimanjaro Summit climb.

So, onto the summit night. I got about an hours sleep between 5pm and midnight before we set off to the top. All you could see were the stars and loads of head torches in the distance, snaking miles above us. The first couple of hours were OK, but about 3am dehydration and altitude really kicked in. My water tube mouth piece had frozen and I was literally shaking with lack of water. I managed to pour some water from my water pack into a bottle but that wasn't near enough. However it kept me going. The terrain was mixed from an OK path to rock and scree. At one point climbing over a few rocks I couldn't breath and everything closed in on me, and despite a wind chill of about minus 30 I ripped my balaclava, hat, hood and head torch off and tried to get my breath back and calm down. That was probably the point where I was so so close to calling it quits and going back down. I kept plodding though despite my legs being like jelly and my body crying out for some energy and food. The temptation to sit down and fall asleep was so strong, even knowing that if you did you would freeze to death. At that moment though I was so tired, if I didn't have a guide and other people around me I would have done. At one point Nikki who I was walking with fell asleep on her walking poles in mid stride.

It was literally one step at a time. Take one step get you breath and tell yourself that you were one step closer to the top. At one point I even re-sited my name and address to convince myself that I wasn't losing my mind!!!!

The sun then started to shine and it gave me a bit of a boost, but not much. The scree was much worse as we entered probably the last couple of hundred meters with you taking 3 steps up only to slide back 2. Just what I needed!!!

The we reached it, Stella point. The top of the mountain (but not the highest point). It was such a relief and the sight was amazing it was just white with snow and ice. I didn't know if I would carry on to the peak, as I had no energy left what so ever, but looking back at where we had come from I decided to give it a go, as I never wanted to do that again. It was another hour to the summit but the views were amazing, even if I didn't fully appreciate them at the time.

At the top we did the photo thing and watched one bloke try to push himself off the edge of the ridge and had to be pulled back by 5 porters, the joys of altitude. One of our group even saw a Ice Cream van on the top of another ridge. It was so surreal.

We then set off down, which was in someway worse than the trip up. I was so close to just sitting down and telling g everyone to leave me as I had nothing left in the tank. Everyone else felt the same and somehow we managed to get to base camp for a bit of lunch at 2pm. As we approached camp they came out with orange juice which was one of the best things ever, it was fantastic. I must have drunk about 10 glasses of the stuff. 3pm we set off to the final camp and arrived at 5:30pm after 16 1/2 hours of walking. I went straight to bed for an hour then managed a bit of dinner then slept from 8:30 through to 5:30am. The next day I felt great, such a difference to the day before when I didn't care less about what I had done. We then had a decent walk to the finishing line before getting back to the lodge, clean clothes a shower and a well earned beer!!!

So it has been done but never again!!!! But it has been worthwhile with a total of £12,000 looming and hopefully I will reach £15,000 for Macmillan which is what this has all been about.

Posted @ 16:54:00 on 25 January 2007 back to top
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Wednesday 24th Jan 2008 - Before the last stretch......



Barafu Camp – 4600 Meters



The last camp before the big push to the top!



Woke up this morning feeling a little tired but more nervous about the day ahead. After breakfast we set off at 8am and headed off for the Baranco wall. It did not look inviting………..



In all honesty it wasn’t as bad as it looked. We were a reasonable distance from the edge (probably about 5ft) but had a few tricky climbs to do. The altitude (3600 meters) made it ten times more difficult but the pain was offset by some amazing views. After a long slog we hit the top of the wall and celebrated with Haribo!!! The next stage of the trek took us to lunch. This was made all the more despairing with the prospect of going straight down into the valley to head straight back up a rather steep path to the lunch tent. A bridge is needed I think!!!



At lunch I could feel the effects of altitude and didn’t feel too good. However I hadn’t taken my Diamox, a drug which helps with acclimatisation, due to rather aggressive pins and needles in both my hands and tingling right across my face. I had a word with the doc and she said I would be fine to take it.

As we progressed up a long and reasonably steep track I started to feel better but tiredness had kicked in and everyone else seemed the same. Bizarrely though, the further up we climbed, the better I seemed to feel.



As we got near to the camp I felt shattered physically but had a strange burning ball of energy in my stomach, which I hope will return later on!!!



We arrived at camp at 5:15pm. It is all shingle, dust and rocks, but is an amazing sight if not a little uncomfy!



Conversations today ranged from football (once again) and a discussion with Roy and Nikki about creating celebrity Kili big brother, where celebrities are sent up Kili and voted off. Once voted they have t find their own way off the mountain. The celebs included Gazza, Shaun Ryder, Jo Brand, Frank Bruno, Chubby Brown and Jade Goody for starters…………..who needs alcohol to talk crap when you have a lack of oxygen!?!?!



So now it’s relax, get some food and hopefully some sleep before we set off at midnight to the summit, when it is going to be beyond cold.

Most people seem OK considering, so fingers crossed we all make it!



So the next time in write in here, will it be success or failure????





Managed to get about an hours sleep before getting up about 11pm. It is not as cold as it has been, but maybe that is down to the half a dozen layers I have on!

Everyone was pretty quiet as we got biscuits and popcorn, all in the light of our head torches.

Posted @ 16:00:37 on 24 January 2007 back to top
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Tuesday 23rd Jan 2007



6am



Well my Thermarest didn’t stay inflated and I finally managed to get to sleep about 4:15am after wrestling with my sleeping bag and trying to bend my spine around what seems like 100’s of rocks.



8:35pm - Baranco Camp – 2940meters



Woke up this morning feeling good, after suffering a bit the previous evening / night. We packed up pretty quickly then had breakfast at 7am. Porridge followed by a sausage butty. Fantastic!!!



Then I visited HELL….For the first time I went to the long drop toilet, basically 4 planks of wood, a poor excuse for a roof and a hole in the floor. Some kind person had missed the hole, but thinking of England I managed to go through with the mission, which was good as I think that was part of the reason I felt ill.



At 8am we set off on day 3, with steady walking up what looked like the moon, but with great views of Kili and Meru behind. It was a slow but steady pace gaining good height. Dave was struggling again being sick after seeming to recover well the night before.



As we gained height, the air didn’t get noticeably thinner but my breathing changed getting a lot faster. Overall though I felt pretty good.

At the highest point of 4600 meters I felt OK, a couple of minor headaches coming on, but overall I felt good. A few of the group suffered but in the main everyone coped well.



We stopped for a very welcome lunch of soup, cheese and bread with Milo, chocolate, sugar and powdered milk as a fantastic drink mix!!



We then made the climb down towards the camp. On the way down we saw some fantastic sights, including a perfectly square hole in the clouds through which Kili was visible. Apart from a couple of slips everyone made it back to camp and seemed to have perked up from the top.



Back at camp I got changed and left the tent hunting for a puncture repair kit for my Thermarest, and that’s when my legs screamed at me for the first time to stop walking!!! After finding and fixing another two punctures, hopefully my mat is fixed!!!



We had our tea of beef stew, then Ray gave us his briefing about tomorrow – 8am start, the Baranco wall L, camp by 4pm, bed at 7pm then up at 11pm to start the summit climb at midnight.

So far I have been pretty relaxed about each day, but I am really starting to panic about tomorrow……………….

…………….altitude wise I feel fine, but I am starting to feel knackered and the weather is so incredibly cold once the sun goes down. But myself and the group have each other this far and the top is only a touching distance away, so I shall give it everything for myself and the team and hopefully we will return triumphant!



So here’s to a good nights sleep for all the thank God for Vick’s vapour rub!

Posted @ 15:56:29 on 23 January 2007 back to top
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Monday 22nd Jan 2007



6:09am



I woke up at 5:30am and it is cold, so who knows what day 3 and 4 will be like, I only hope this sleeping bag gets hotter as the weather gets colder!!!

I slept OK but it seemed to be sort of one and a half hour on and off between sleeping and being awake. The good news is it’s not just me who’s cold judging by some of the comments filtering through the tent walls.



Right, breakfast time…….



9:06pm - Shira camp 3750 meters.



A good days walking today with some spectacular views. I managed to walk at the front, middle and back of the group, and yes it was in that order!!!



Conversations ranged from football, how annoying it would be to have Michael Barrymore on the trek ‘Alwight’, bullseye and speedboats, more football and the guides name (Buster or Pasta!?!?!).

The guide who walked with us for part of today was great. He taught us some Swahili, described certain birds and plants and a bit about the mountain.



Towards camp we had some climbing to do which was great fun, followed by a nice steady stroll to camp.

Dave who had been pretty ill all day battled on and made it to the camp looking a lot brighter than in the morning.



The views from the camp are breathtaking with a snow capped Kili behind us and Mount Meru shrouded in cloud the other way.



The altitude is noticeable here, nothing too bad just a bit of grogginess, hopefully a good nights sleep will solve that as tomorrow we hit 4800 meters, which is going to be pretty tough……….



The highlight of the evening was a puncture in my thermarest sleeping mat, which typically I didn’t fix whilst it was still light but struggled through by headtoarch, so who knows who it will be tonight!!



Anyway, Neil my room mate wants to get some sleep, as do I, before my mat deflates, so good night.

Posted @ 15:55:20 on 22 January 2007 back to top
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Day one - Sunday 21st Jan 2007

It’s the end of our first day climbing Kili. We were up at 6.30am with breakfast at 7:30, consisting of scrambled egg, sausage and toast. We set off in the bus around 8:30 and got to the starting point about 9:30. After registering and buying some high quality tat from the people outside the gates, we set off into the rainforest at 10:20. The weather was good if not a little hot, but then at lunch it all changed as the rain poured down. Most people were drenched before they could get their waterproofs on. Despite this we battled on and although we walked quite slowly we made good progress with the help of Haribo!!!



Then at around 4:30pm we finally walked out of the rainforest into clear surroundings. This was to be our camp for the night (2959 meters)

The tents had been set up by the porters, so we set about trying to dry our gear and get changed into more comfortable footwear and clothing (trees make great washing lines!!!). We then made our way to the dining area, which was basically a bigger tent than the sleeping ones with chairs, and got stuck into biscuits and popcorn.

After that the main discussion was the long drop toilet and the heroic status of those who had dared to venture in. Then we saw the snow capped peak of Kili as the clouds broke….awesome.



7pm



We returned to the restaurant for dinner which was soup, mince meat, veg and potatoes, then banana followed by coffee and hot chocolate. It is amazing how the porters get everything up here and cook for us all whist I struggle to prepare Haribo and carry a smallish daysack!



After dinner conversations switched between the toilets (again!!), talking in Swahili (badly) and goings on from other treks.



Anyway, it’s so far so good and although the altitude change is noticeable it hasn’t taken hold….yet.



It’s now 10:12 and I need sleep, as we’re up at 6:30 am for more walking.



Happy days!!!

Posted @ 16:24:53 on 21 January 2007 back to top
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Saturady 20th Jan 2007



6:26pm



Sat in the hotel room watching ‘Boro beat Bolton 3-0 after watching Chelsea lose 2-0 to Liverpool. It’s just like being back home!!!



We arrived at Ameg Lodge, Moshi at around 11am after 25 hours of travelling. The weather is very hot, with patchy cloud.



The connecting flight from Nairobi to Kilimanjaro International airport gave us all our first taste of just exactly what we had let ourselves in for!!! Flying at 17,000 feet Kilimanjaro still towered almost 3,000 feet above us, its snow capped peak glistening in the sun.



We got our first instructions at lunch today as to exactly what lay in store for us. The group leaders seem pretty clued up but also seem to realise the importance to us all of making it to the top of Kili. Further conversations about toilets (or rather lack of them), were not so welcome!!!

The group as a whole seem pretty nice, but as we are all still, in the main strangers, and alcohol has not been consumed (yet!!). I’m sure the climb will open up personalities rather quickly.



Dinner is at 7pm and we have already packed our bags, having has only an hour or so of sleep last night and heading off at 8am tomorrow, everyone will want to get as much sleep as possible tonight.

Posted @ 16:21:50 on 20 January 2007 back to top
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