A couple of week ago I wrote about the impending trip to Africa to climb Mt Kilimanjaro. In the post I wrote about fears and the fact that it was so far outside my comfort zone as to be in a different country. (Which it was)
Lets get the elephant right in the open. I did not summit, but I am happy with the decision that I took at the time and it was entirely the right decision.
What I want to tell you about is how I felt about it all. The silence, once all the porters had finished. Word for the porters and guides. Totally awesome. While the rest of us were puffing and panting our way up the mountain they sauntered past carrying 50 or so kg hardly breaking a sweat. Camps dismantled after we left and put back up again at a new camp site before we got there. So brilliant.
Silence is something that I don’t get very often, I live near to a major road and that dominates my life from the small hours to the small hours all you can hear is traffic noise even when I stay in the West Country you can still hear noise. Not so on the side if Kili. Quiet, except for the tent number which would blow round and flutter against the tent, I thought it was a mouse, or bird, or could it have been a yetti trying to figure out how to get inside? perhaps he was cold.
Stars. so bright, so many happy to see some familiar constellations. Orion, although it was upside down.
Cold. Waking up in the middle of the night with a gentle crackling sound, Looking at the tent covered in Ice good job I’m inside, until I saw my poles which also had a film of ice on them. Toilet didn’t freeze up that was good just cold standing there in thermal bottoms and a fleece teeth chattering. Sleeping bag managed to keep me warm but a tent by yourself is not the warmest place to be and where the bag touched the ground sheet or the side of the tent. Just don’t bother.
Something else i wasn’t told about was the sky. How it changes colour as you get higher. From a pale blue at 1800mtrs to rich navy blue at 4600mtrs something to admire and is often missed.
The countryside was just stunning and the climbs were fantastic. Even the Barranco wall.
So was I fit enough? barely should have done more training. Altitude? Killer, I did not get a head ache as such but I lost my appetite second morning and it didn’t come back until I sat in the hotel. I had not realised how hungry I was until I ate a whole pizza and didn’t notice the peppers and then 2 hours later a chicken burger and both portions of chips mine and one that my wife had ordered. Altitude creeps up on you, when you just feel a little sick and little else its difficult to gauge how far you can deviate from normal and accept it as normal. I was getting clumsy and had to concentrate on things that I would not normally think about, its OK I thought but it wasn’t and only on getting back down do you really notice the difference.
The group of people I was with were really great, all helping each other and giving support. Helen the trip leader was awesome along with Dr Hugh whom I did not speak to alot, but apparently he was watching.
So this became something that I had not realised at the time. A personal Journey, one of “self discovery” and the goal of the summit fell away in amongst all the other stuff. When I started one of the guides said, “The mountain changes you” yeah right I thought but it has in a million subtle ways.
So when I am asked was it worth it? God yes. Would you do it again? God no… but I do have unfinished business in that region. The landscapes are stunning and all most people think about is Mt Kili. They don’t see what they are missing.
The company I used for the trip was Discover Adventure This is the third trip I have done with them, always good, always professional.
What an awesome experience