Saturday, March 03, 2007

First reflections....

Killing a very dull 5 hours in Addis Ababa airport, in transit from Kili back to London after our epic trek. Most of us are suffering from African tummy and mountain aches, with Imodium and Nurofen in high demand.

So how are we all feeling? Elated, knackered, tired, disappointed. And many more emotions, but all of us awestruck. As the plane rose from Kili airport in the early evening, above the clouds on the right hand side we had an incredible view of the snow capped volcanic peaks of Kilimanjaro. To see them soaring way above the clouds - 3 miles above sea level, for goodness sake - made us realise the scale of the challenge we had just completed.

The start of the trek already seemed a lifetime away. Our group of 16 climbers miraculously grew to an entourage of 60 at our starting point of Machame Gate. Hellen, our tour leader, Mexan the head guide and 4 other guides, and 38 - yes, that's 38 - porters to carry all our gear for the whole attempt. The porters carry everything - tents, food for everyone for 6 days, other equipment - on their heads all the way to the final camp at 4,500m. To see them sprint up the Barranco wall with tables or 15kg kitbags seemingly glued to thier heads will stay with me forever. To climb this wall took all my concentration but I know that others have photos that will convey the gradient of the wall and the incredible commitment of the porters.
Andrew's initial champagne moments:
  • the hailstorm on the way to the Lava Tower on day 3 just after Hellen had encouraged everyone to slap loads of sun cream on. Very intense and painful....Kili acupuncture according to Jon
  • the Barranco camp, surrounded by native Senecio plants looking like giant cactus plants, and with the most amazing sunset towards Kibo
  • the Barranco wall and the ensuing valley appetizer to the main course summit
  • summit night. Hell and heaven. The worst and best experiences of a lifetime all wrapped into one

Andrew's initial brown ale moments:

  • start of day 4 at the Barranco camp when Jim, suffering from severe AMS, had to leave the group and descend the mountain. Heartbreaking
  • reaching the summit without Gill and separated from the rest of the Kili 6. And then finding all 3 of my camera batteries had frozen
  • feeling so sick on day 2, whether from AMS or a bug I'll never know, that I had serious doubts about being able to continue

Loads more reflections from the Kili 6 to follow and hopefully some thoughts and photos from the rest of the trekking group to follow..


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well done, can not express how impressed we are! Ian, being that sort of person, says that putting batteries into your armpit on the final ascent should have stopped the problem. I figure that you might have had other things on your mind at the time :-)

Mands & Ian in the sunny place

7:20 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home