Climbing Kilimanjaro is the most satisfying thing I have ever done. Yes Chris Moyles has done it, but the feeling of accomplishment when you see the summit sign is something you can’t really put into words, especially when you have climbed throughout the night.
We started our submit trek at midnight, and were advised that this was the hardest part of the climb, because your body does not really know what is going on and trekking through the night is not something you can prepare for. But it was the weirdest and surrealist night of my life; constantly my body was telling me to stop but determination to make it took over, and being able to look up and see the most amazing starry sky made dealing with it easier. The hardest part was going from Stella Point to Uhuru Peak, even though it is only an hour in between, but just having to start walking again after breaking at Stella Point the altitude started to take effect and we started to feel a little disorientated. But this was where we found out what we were made of, especially when Matty started to feel dizzy Jason had to push him forwards just so we could keep going, but at no point did any of us think we weren’t going to make it.
There were only 4 of us (not including porters and guides) doing the climb, but the camaraderie and togetherness which was forged throughout was really important in getting us to the top. In such a small group we felt we had to constantly will each other on, especially when it came to eating in the evening, because the easy thing to do is just crash out, but the guides stressed how important fuelling yourself up is, so we just had to get as much food down us as possible.
The most dangerous and probably most exciting part of the climb is the Barranco Wall, health and safety’s worst nightmare but being constantly overtaken by porters and other groups on a single path really got the adrenaline going, as well as having to scale part of the wall with a 15ft drop below. Another thing to mention, perhaps rather obviously, is how stunning the landscape and views are as you climb. We started by walking through the clouds in a rainforest, something which not only was very surreal but is probably the most physically damaging part of the climb because of how slippery it is. But once you get out of the clouds, the views back on to the rainforest, as well as just looking out either towards Moshi or Mt. Meru, are stunning. Throw into the mix being able to see how much closer you are getting to the summit, and you have the most incredible photo opportunities, ones that I genuinely treasure.
There was no better way to end the most incredible experience of my life. The only disappointment was there were only 3 from our Kenya group, but the 3 of us making it to the top together felt very fitting. Being able to stand at the top and look out thinking you’ve done it is something I hold very close, because you can’t really justify it to people. It is something that holds individual meaning, and something I will look back on with huge pride for the rest of my life.
James King, December 2013.