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Published: March 25th 2020
After the hail storm
Lucky to get cover from the hail storm after passing the Lava Towers
After completeing the Kokoda Trail and having returned to Australia, my wife asked me, "So what's next ?" I had always wanted to climb Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania and that was my answer. So in February 2015, I headed to Moshi in Tanzania having booked with a company called Adventure Peaks, to climb Mount Kilimanjaro.
Arriving in Moshi, I found that there was only two of us in our group. My companion was an ex British Marine, who had done tours of the Middle East, was very fit and about 6feet 2inches tall. I am 6foot tall, so the two of us in a two man tent, with our duffel bags, frequent trips to wee in the night due to drinking a minimum of 3 litres of water each day to help with altitude sickness, made sleeping difficult.
So we start the climb and our progress is good. After passing through the Lava Towers, a hail storm moves in, but luckily our porters had arrived earlier at the camp site and our tent was pitched. We sit and watch the ground go white. Next day we climb the Barranco Wall, quite intimidating from the bottom, but not too hard
Made it to base camp
Looking back down the trail
as it transpired. We move on and reach the base camp. My climbing companion had suggested after summiting, we go straight back down the mountain, not taking the usual overnight stop. I agree, in retrospect a bad decision.
The guide advises us, that we will start our summit attempt at 12 midnight. At 11.30pm, whilst drinking hot tea and eating biscuits, we watch three groups head off to the summit. I learn later, they are sponsored groups, to raise money for the British soldiers injured in the Middle East conflicts. We set off at midnight and in a short while, we catch them. They are moving slowly and their guides are telling them Poly Poly, which means slowly, slowly. The track is narrow and not possible to pass. After a while, our guide decides to pass them and takes us off the track onto the side of the path, which is shale, like walking on sand. We pass the three groups, but I am now very cold as we have been told not to put on all our gear. We stop and I put on my down jacket, but my hands are so cold, I cannot properly put on
Looking up towards the summit
my left glove. One of the groups has past us now and we catch them and again and pass then in the same way.
The increaed effort of passing the groups off the track has taken its toll on me and I suggest my companion moves on with one of the guides and the other stays with me and we travel at a slower pace. This we do and eventually, we arrive at Stella Point. My companion is not there, he has moved on to Uhuru Peak. I am exhausted and ask the guide how far to Uhuru Peak. He advises another 140 metres of ascent, which will take us an hour. After agreeing to make the descent in one day and in my present condition, I decide to turn back. I have a summit, Mount Kilimanjaro has three summit points, but not the one I wanted. We move down to Base Camp and after a while my companion arrives having made it to Uhuru Peak.
"What was the view like I ask ?"
" Don't know" he replies "Was not light, could not see"
Our guide had pushed us too fast to the summit. We
Base camp, pitching tents between rocks
complete the descent and reach Mweka Gate at 5.30pm.
When we got back to the hotel in Moshi I ring my wife. I told her I was safe and what had transpired. I became quite emotional as I had not achieved my goal.
She asked me, "So what are you going to do?"
I replied " Come back next year"
She said "OK"
And so I returned to Australia and starting planning for my next years trip to Mount Kilimanjaro.
Tot: 1.244s; Tpl: 0.045s; cc: 12; qc: 42; dbt: 0.0228s; 1; m:saturn w:www (22.214.171.124); sld: 1;
; mem: 1.4mb