Kilimanjaro

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Kilimanjaro

Post  Iain on 2008-02-26, 03:24

I’ve just returned back from Mount Kilimanjaro which I successfully climbed over 7 nights with my daughter Mona and her boyfriend, Tim. We reached the summit using the Shira Route at dawn on Friday the 22nd February. I’ll give a quick summary of my trip. Tim took a GPS with him to record accurate distances and heights and Mona kept a diary so, for the moment, this is all from memory. Mona was Photographer in Chief on this trip. She has a fancy doopy digital SLR camera and was clicking away like mad all the time. I’m hoping to get her photos over the next few days and will post on the website as soon as possible.



We flew out to Kilimanjaro on Wednesday the 13th and had 2 days at a hotel to acclimatize in a town called Arusha before starting our climb. On one of these days we went on a driven safari at a national park. We saw plenty of animals and it’s easier to say what we didn’t see rather than try and list what we did.

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We missed Lion, Elephant and Rhino; but pretty much saw the rest.

We were climbing the mountain as part of a group of 12 people, 4 women and 8 men. There was a second group of 10 also taking the same route. We left the hotel Saturday 16th and after much faffing about entered the park at lunch time. The authorities are very careful to ensure that heads are counted going in and heads are counted coming back out. As there was a large contingent of porters and guides they all had to be checked and double checked. Also all our baggage had to be weighed and re-weighed; the porters are allowed to carry 15kg plus their own gear, they seem to end up carrying about 25kg.


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Once we entered the park we walked to the first nights’ Bivouac, had dinner and hit the sack.


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For each of the next 5 days the procedure was much the same up; at 0600, have a cup of tea, “wash wash” and shave, pack up personal goods and chattels, have breakfast, walk very slowly (the porters catch phrase was “Polee Polee” which is the Swahili for Slowly Slowly) to the next camp climbing all the time, set out sleeping things, have dinner and hit the sack by 2000. The object of every days walk seems to be to gain about 500m of height. On a few of the days we arrived at the next site early and had lunch otherwise we were given a sandwich to have on the way. On these early finish days in the afternoon we were taken out for an acclimatization walk up to some interesting feature, pause take photos and return back to camp.


On the 7th day we arrived at the high altitude camp at Barafu Hut at 4,600m above sea level.


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This was a big site where most of the routes converged before making the final assault on the summit. The site itself was huge and to be honest filthy. All the tents were pitched in clusters on the side of the hill and each of the pitches had been cleared of stones and rubble. At 0000 on the 22nd the group departed to attempt the accent. For much of the night we climbed by the light of a full moon only using head torches when we were getting near the summit and the moon was behind the rim. That climb was the hardest thing I have ever done. Honestly I didn’t think I would make it. At over 5,000m getting breath was very hard and my legs seemed to be made of lead. Each and every single step was a struggle. It was freezing cold with a howling wind that threatened to blow me off my feet with each step I took. The accent was up a sand and gravel scree slope. I have to say that the only way I got to the top was by shear determination not to let Mona and Mieke down. We made the final false peak, Stellar Point, at about 0610 just in time to catch the beautiful sun rise


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(I didn’t get a great photo, Mona and Tim were snapping away and I was too knackered to do anything anyway).

You could see the curvature of the earth from there (although I maintain it was on optical illusion as my survey work has taught me that the earth is flat). There are still glaciers on Kilimanjaro but they are melting fast as there isn’t enough precipitation falling to maintain them.


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We then walked up to the actual summit of Uhuru (5,895m) arriving at about 0730.


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Unfortunately Mona started to suffer the effects of Acute Mountain Sickness at the top and we had to evacuate her as quickly as possible. Basically we took the necessary photographs right at the top for the record and I rushed her down the hill. Just dropping back down to Stellar Point made a huge difference to her but we kept on going. One of the guides that helped us with the climb came down with us. We literally ran back down the scree slope stopping for a couple of minutes every 400m or 500m or so to drink water. With every 100m we dropped back down Mona improved and by the time we got back to Barafu she was back to normal, albeit we all had very sore knees. After a short break at the camp to rest and to allow the remainder of the group to catch up with us, we headed further down the hill to another site. Barafu is a staging post for the climb to the top so people who have been to the summit up have to clear the site so the next set of groups can make the climb the next day. In all we walked for about 15 hours on the 22nd.

Having taken 6 days to go up it only took us only 2 days of walking to get back down. We exited the Kilimanjaro National Park on 23rd and were bussed back to the hotel for a shower and a good nights sleep.

The three of us spent all day Sunday at Arusha before heading back to Kilimanjaro International Airport for an overnight flight back to Amsterdam and on to Aberdeen.

Akunamatata (a real Swahili word for “No Worries” and I thought it was a Disneyism)
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Iain
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Earning your keep

Post  REB on 2008-02-26, 07:33

Hi Iain
Quite an impresive action for your age!

Carol was borne and bred (up to 17 years old) in Kenya have printed off for her but the photos do not print

Speake to you soon
all the best
Bob

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Iain in Kenya

Post  acmesurv on 2008-02-26, 14:24

Well done Iain,
Not bad for a man of your age.....can not under stand why my Mother Inlaw is the Subject of your 1st Picture though, or how she came to be in Africa (possible witchcraft).
But apart from that Respect......I get out off breath climbing the stairs to bed of a night!

Regards...

Big Kev.

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Climbing Kilimanjaro

Post  Phil on 2008-02-27, 00:47

Iain,

Well done. A great memory for you and all your family there.

As for Mona catching altitude sickness. Could have been worse mate. She could have climbed up your wallet!!!!!!

Anyhow, I am sure she is much better now.

I am coming back to blighty soon. Will contact.

Phil.

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BIG MOUNTAIN

Post  JOHN d on 2008-02-27, 00:58

CONGRATULATIONS ON TAKING ON THAT MAMMOTH TASK. REALLY LIKE THAT DUSK PHOTO. YOUR DAUGHTER HAS AN EYE FOR PHOTOGRAPHY.

i READ THE REST OF THE POST, EVERYONE KEEPS SAYING A MAN OF YOUR AGE!!!! WHAQT AGE ARE YOU?

GLAD TO SEE YOU ALL MADE IT BACK SAFE

JEALOUS I AM

JD

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Well Done

Post  mike.gra on 2008-02-28, 06:34

Iain

We done my friend good for you to get out of the office and get some space

Mike

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Kilimanjaro climb

Post  James H on 2008-03-02, 00:57

Iain, looks like you had a great time and a wonderful experience! Id love to see more photos.

James H
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