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Adventure number four with the Adventure Company was a climb up Kilimanjaro on the Rongai route.
After meeting up with some of my fellow climbers at Heathrow we all set off for Africa. We all got to see the mighty mountain from the plane as it rose above the clouds from the plane window and it looks very big when you know you will be attempting to climb it in the next few days! After a mini bus journey to Marangu and a meal we had our first breifing from our guide Samuel. After the breifing it all felt very real!!
The next morning we travelled to the Rongai gate. Unlike the other gates its very quiet and rural feeling.We ate our packed lunch while the porters weighed our bags and sorted the gear and then we set off on the trail. The first part of the trail was nice and gentle and through woodland. Some of the group saw some columbus monkeys on the first evening and got some great pictures.
After a hearty breakfast we set off on a longer day of around eight hours and a much steeper climb. A couple of our group started to get mild headaches as we were gradually getting higher. Camp was above the clouds with a great view over Kenya.
A long uphill climb took us to the next camp with the only permenant lake on the mountain. In the afternoon we climbed higher on an acclimitisation trek and then returned to camp to sleep lower. A very cold night saw most of us sleeping in lots of layers!
Trekking across the saddle the mountain now looms above. This was the night we would attempt to summit! Arriving at Kibo camp around noon. An early dinner, summit breif and then to bed for a few hours before being woken at 11pm for food and the "pole pole" climb towards the top. It was the coldest night i have ever experienced and if you stopped for a few minutes to rest you will start to shake with the cold. Every now and then i looked up into the darkness and could see headtorches way way above showing that there was a long way to to go!! We lost one member of the group to AMS who had to return to camp and then be taken down lower to safety. I myself started to vomit and become a little spaced out as i got towards Gillmans point. I was looked after really well by my porter who without i doubt i would have made it. He earnt his tip that night! I summited at 7.38am on the 31st May 2012. The glacier was amazing and the sun was shining. After the long trek down we arrived back in camp around mid morning all a little worse for wear. Alot of people battled with the altitude that night and fought through their pain to make it to freedom peak. After a short nap and food it was boots back on for the trek down to the next camp via the Marangu route. That night i slept well as i was exhusted.
The last day saw us decending down through the Marangu forest which was a nice change of scene. After lunch in one of the huts we contiued down to the Marangu gate. After signing out we all celebrated with a Kilimanjaro beer while our guide sorted out our certificates for the ones that had made it to either Gillmans point or Uruhu. Back to Arusha for a final meal together before flying home or for some lucky ones off to Zanzibar to lay on the beach.
I have made some lovely new friends again who i hope to meet up with again with soon. Maybe even go away with on another trip.
If your thinking of doing this trip i highly reccomend the Rongai route as its quiet and you feel remote. Plus you come down on the Marangu route so you get a different view on the way down.
A couple of tips:
The lodge in Arusha is lovely but out of town. So unless you organise something yourself there will be no time for shopping in Arusha like it says in the trip notes as you get picked up for the journey to the airport at midday. Which was a shame as we were looking forward to it.
Alot of us were very cold in our season 4 sleeping bags that are advised in the trip notes. It gets very very cold. Around minus 20 when we were there so make sure you have a suitable bag that will keep you warm.
A mid layer fleece is not enough to keep you warm. Take a down jacket as well or you will freeze!
Suitable gloves are needed for summit night. Something like the mountain equipment guide glove along with a liner and a thinner pair.
You will need two pairs of socks on for summit night or a very good quality pair of double layer socks.( thanks for the socks Simon)
Basically do not underestimate just how cold it will get and just how hard it will be on summit night. Be prepared!!
I'm back off to Nepal on my next trip to break the 6000m barrier hopefully!!
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