Finally after decompressing and getting a decent internet connection at KIA we can provide a summit report…
After arriving at Kibo Hut we all settled down and began preparing for our summit attempt that we would commence early on July 3rd.
We however found ourselves in the face of severe winds and freezing temperatures at Kibo, which was not a good precursor for climbing. After an early dinner at 6.30pm and a detailed briefing we all retired to our tents to get ready. With the wind chill it was bitterly cold and we all tried to get a few hours sleep before the big day.
As planned we woke at 12am and got dressed in our tents before heading for the dining tent for a light breakfast at 12.30am. We then stepped out into the pitch black night excited, but also apprehensive.
Nestor (assistant Tanzania guide) led the way from the front with Rajabu (lead Tanzania guide) in the rear and Tony roaming up and down the group. Fortunately the wind died down and although it was still below zero it could have been far worse.
The team trudged up the mountain “pole pole” (Swahili – slowly-slowly). Early on Raymond Mutokonyi had some severe chest pains and after consulting with him he decided to return to Kibo Hut and was escorted back down by our Tanzanian guides (Ray has recovered and is doing well).
We slowly ticked off our milestones…Williams Point, Hans Meyer Cave….and then we reached Gillman’s Point (5369m) just as the sun was coming up.
Although everyone was having problems at some point we managed to cope and support everyone. Sara got bitterly cold and was extremely tired, but with the incredible support of her father Gary and Raj, they managed to continue.
Joshua also persevered after his gastro problems with vomiting and diarrhea at Mawenzi Tarn Hut. With stomach cramps from the start of the summit and suffering from the cold he just kept going. Chris Swanepoel also suffered early on with nausea and a headache, but with some medication and the support of his Dad he also never gave up.
Barry and Brian, aka “Team Zim” never lost their focus and just kept putting one foot in front of the other. Greg and Matthew James were also relentless and kept a good pace behind Nestor. Bush (Kulu) and Derek (aka Mister Min) were on top form and their positive energy and sense of humor had helped everyone during the expedition. John Horrell, a natural mountaineer was just cruising along with no problems. On the hour we typically took a short break to refuel, change layers or take a health break.
The route from Kibo to Gilman’s Point is extremely steep and involves 991m of climbing over 3,2km. From there we had just over 200m of ascent to the summit spread out over approximately 2,8km. Although it appears straight-forward, this part of the climb never ends, but the pain and suffering is a small price to pay for the incredible views of the surrounding glaciers.
Finally at around 8am the team started to arrive at Uhuru Peak (5895m), the highest point in Africa. As all our team-mates finally made the summit the gravity of the moment had a huge emotional impact on all of us and we shed tears freely as we celebrated and hugged each other.
With the sun now bathing us in its warmth we were able to spend some quality time on the summit and fully appreciate the beauty of Kilimanjaro.
I first came to Kilimanjaro in June 2002 and the impact this mountain has on me personally never changes…it is a spiritual experience that changes your life forever. Without doubt this was the hardest physical challenge any of the team had experienced in their lives, particularly for Sara (14), Josh (15), Chris (14) and Matthew (17). For Bush at 65 years, the elder statesman of our group, he had ticked off a big goal on his bucket list.
After taking the required photos we started to focus on our descent, which was not an insignificant challenge. As I have seen many times before, once the kids get down a few hundred metres they recover and they powered down the mountain to Kibo Hut. The rest of us reached Kibo over the next 3 – 4 hours with the whole team back safe at around 1pm.
At the end of the day this was a great result for our team with 13 of 14 summits. Unfortunately Ray was not that well and with medical advice we arranged for the Kilimanjaro rescue team to take him down to Horombo Hut where he felt much better.
After packing up our camp at Kibo Hut the rest of the team left at 2pm for Horombo Hut (3700m), which involved a long down hill trek of around 9km. We arrived exhausted after a long day…
Summit Stats :
Kibo Hut to Uhuru Peak to Kibo Hut to Horombo Camp :
Total Ascent : 1379m
Total Descent : 2344m
Total Distance : 20,1km
Total Time : 16 Hours 32 minutes
Tony van Marken