So near but just a bit too far!

Ian is back from his Kilimajaro trip, looking well and on very good form. Here’s the story.

“Our trek started after we signed in with the Park authorities and on that first afternoon we just had a 3 hour ascent to our first camp site at 2895 metres. We initially walked through a mix of agri-forestry and low tech farming, mainly the growing of carrots somewhat to my surprise, but this eventually gave way to rainforest with just the occasional glimpse of Columbus and Blue monkeys.

Our porters had raced ahead of us and set up the camp which consisted of our personal tents, a mess tent and cook tent and the all important portaloo. The porters were simply supermen, carrying our 15 kilos of gear, their gear and probably a table and two chairs on their heads and always smiling and shouting encouragement “Hi, Mr Ian, how you? Come on!”

The 2nd day was my favourite, though hard. We now started to leave the rainforest behind replacing it with a much more barren landscape with just occasional Protea plants in full flower and huge Lobelias, the size of Bev’s van tipped up on its end!

By now the snow covered summit was in view looking a long, long way away and a long way up. The pattern for the next few days was to trek onwards and upwards but also descending each day to our new campsite. We usually trekked for up to 6 or 7 hours, with a lunch stop, in parts very difficult, something like the steep ascent of Tegg’s Nose, but only at one point was there a technical climb for about 2 hours.

And so eventually after 6 days we arrived at 4600 metres, made camp and prepared for the midnight assault on the summit at 5895 metres. This was to take us 6 hours arriving at day break. Midnight came and we shuffled off and upwards lit only by our head torches on a very tricky ascent. Unfortunately, within an hour I was struggling with the altitude, very breathless and semi-detached.

After another hour, at about 5000 metres, my condition worsened and I could only stagger round like a drunk. And that was it for me; my guide, Gideon said we must go down. However, I’m delighted to report that my fellow trekkers made the summit – a brilliant effort all round.

Later on that day we descended to about 3500 metres and all my symptoms completely disappeared – apart from sore knees.

The next day we descended out of the park, had a long cold beer and I went to meet up with Helen. We then flew to Zanzibar for some serious R&R!

So was the trek worth it? Yes, it was a brilliant week in the main, but from now on I shall be sticking to Tatton Park and canal towpaths.”

– Ian