The Kilimanjaro programme was organized by the Red Rubber Ball Foundation, and the trip started on the 27th of December 2015. We were a team of 15 kenyans, and 17 Britons. We, the kenyan team, met in Nairobi on the 27th and we travelled by a night bus to Moshi Town, where we met with the British team around lunch hour on the 28th at Ameg Lodge. This was great, most of us dint know each other and this was the time to blend in and get to know one another. Suprisingly, we all got along well, and it felt that we had known each other for a while. What an amazing team!
On the 29th was our preparation day, which ofcourse did not take us long, with the help of the chief guide, we spent part of the day in the pool, at the lodge where we stayed, Another fun as most kenyans had never swam before. So we learnt, and played and laughed and all that we could do in the name of having fun.
The next day was the beginning of the trek, everyone was excited and well prepared, if only we knew what was to come in the next days! Two buses picked us up, and in the bus in which i was, were all the noisy and crazy part of the team. The journey to the Longorosho gate became short, my ribs ached from laughter , the funny songs we sang, and the games we played. We drove for 3 hours through the beautiful forests and plantations, and ofcourse a very beautiful view of the Kilimanjaro. On arrival at the gate we were received by songs and dances from the porters, the cooks, the waiters and the guides. After lunch we started our 4 hour trek to Mti Mkubwa camp(3000m) where we were again welcomed by songs and dances . Our tents were all ready set up, the mobile toilets were all fixed, hot water was available. An amazing organisation. We sat outside our tents story telling as we waited for dinner. The kitchen team neatly arranged a tent, and tables well set, the cutlery arrangement indicated a three course meal. I never expected that on the mountain, all sorts of beverages to choose from, as we waited for the food, and then came the waiter, we called him Eminem, with leeks and celary soup! I dont remember what we had for main course on this day, but i do remember we had delicious fruits for dessert.
Jonas Rutta, our chief guide, ( He has climbed the Kili 250 times), would brief us about the next day, what to wear, what to carry in the day bag, and the distance we had to cover. Did i mention how we had our wake up calls, one of a kind, the waiters would knock on our tents,carrying a tray with hot water, assorted beverages and cookies. This they said it was to warm us up before the breakfast as we prepare.
The second day of the climb was not really a joke. We had to trek for 7 hours! But Jonas would make it look easy as he would tell us there would be alot flat paths with less hills, which in the long run was never the case. We however survived. This day we walked to Shira 1 camp 3840m. Along the way was the beautiful rain forest and small rivers.
The third day did not really begin well for me, i woke up not feeling well, with me i had some anti nausea pills, which i thought could be of help since i dint feel well. I lost my appetite and for breakfast i only had porridge, half my bowl and a mug of black tea. I felt weak from the beginning, so the guide who walked with me decided to help me carry my day bag. After about half an hour walking, i started vomitting, this continued all day, and it got worse when i took in something like water or glucose or anyhing to give me energy. I vomitted 14 times, i lost all my energy before reaching the Lava tower 4500m, where we were to have lunch. At some point i could not walk anymore and i told the guide i think i am giving up, i could not take it anymore. The guide and the chief guide kept telling me that was part of the mountain sickness, acclimatization, and that i was going to be ok the following day. For me and how my body felt, i had no hopes, i felt sad that i was not going to make it to the top and not be able to make a photo at UHURU peak 5895 for my dad. The UK doctors stood by me and despite my condition, they kept with my pace and assisted me in every way. My situation got more worse and the guide saw how weak i was, but insisted i must make it to the top, so he carried me on his back, and thinking am more than 60kg, he climbed the mountain with me, and we rested in between. On arrival at the camp the team cheered and welcomed us up, they had finished lunch and were to begin the next part of the trek descending to Baranco Camp 3972m. I entered the tent where lunch was being served, i put my head on the table, tears flowed freely from my eyes, i wondered why i had to go through all that. Few minutes after, i rose up, besides me was Kate and Ru ( part of the team from UK), who were also not feeling ok and were also stuggling to eat something too. We encouraged each other and i ate some soup.
After lunch, another 3-4 hour trek, was waiting for us. This we were told, was down hill, to Baranco camp (3972m) where we were to spend the night. I got little energy from the soup, and the chief guide assured me i would feel much better as i will be going down hill. The trek then began, with me was one of the doctors from UK , Nick Snelling and my all time guide Elijah. Polepole we started, then half way i did get abit stronger and we continued going down hill without much rest until we reached the camp. There was a very nice beautiful view of the Baranco wall,the vegetation, it was priceless. The beautiful view of the mountain was breath taking! Compared to the morning part of the trek, this time i felt better. However at dinner, still no appetite but i survived.
That night at Baranco camp, I never realised it was new year on this day, and also the birthday Neil Kirby. Just after dinner Neil had a surprise birthday cake from the cooks, and two bottles of champagne. The waiters sang beautiful birthday songs. New year in a tent, somewhere on the beautiful part of Killy mountain, and it felt like more near to heaven. And as for Neil, that was a birthday of its kind.
The forth day, was to climb on Baranco wall, to Karanga valley, another 7 hours trek. On this day i was better, so the climb began well and the guide still carried my day bag. Every day we used to get a box with snacks for the day, i never ate mine, I requested the chief guide to change my snack to water melon instead, i really needed water in my body. It was nice to climb between the rocks and on the wall, and looking back the view was always amazing. It was misty and at some point we could hardly see anything.At the top we had a beautiful view of Mount Meru and the valleys. We then proceeded to Karanga camp. Later that afternoon we had an our walk, and some Yoga. It was awesome, yoga in puff jackets on the moutain!
The fifth day was to Barafu camp, 4608m then to Kosovo camp 4800m, 7 hours trek. This is one memorable day too, it was tough, as they say the higher you go the cooler it becomes, this was more than cool, the cold and freezing became more and more. This day was also the eve of the summit night, and what was to come ahead was a hell of 6 hours trek in the dark. We had an early dinner, at 6;00 pm, and our trek began at 11:00 pm. Jonas (the chief guide) advised us to keep as warm as we could. I wore two underwears, two T-shirts, a warm woolen sweater, and my puff jacket. Underneath i wore two pairs of warmers, two leggings, a warm pant, and my rain trousers (just incase it rained). I had three pairs of new and warm socks, and 3 layers of gloves. Ohh, i had something warm on my head too!
The journey began, it was a steep ascend, with our headlamps and walking sticks, we began our trip. The guide took my day bag, and the begining of the trek was ok.Even at this cold night, the chief guide insisted we must drink water every few minutes, that was not something for Rose. It became more and more hectic as we continued, we could only have very short stops of a few seconds as it was too cold to stop for a long time. I felt very cold, inspite of all the layers i was wearing. One of the ladies from the UK team, Sarah, had an extra jacket, which she gave to me, i was still cold..From there i imagined what people from Europe mean when they are talking about cold.
The cold misty wind blew on our faces, and some of us, including me began to vomit. Lucky for me my guide had a small thermos with coffee for me, that was a suprise and it was so sweet of him. I could not thank him enough. I kept looking at my watch, and time wasnt moving, i felt tired and sleepy at some point, i missed the Mombasa weather, the heat, the sun. We kept on walking and walking. Javan, a boy from the kenyan team, was walking besides me, so we had a small chat, and i remember him telling me, he doesnt know if he will ever do Kilimanjaro again. For him , Kilimanjaro was not anybodys mother ( no motherly love). I told him, i dint understand why i had to put myself in all the struggles,, but then again, we encouraged each other, looking back from where we started, we could not just afford to give up. So we kept walking (and talking).
After 6 hours of trek, we arrived at Stella point 5685m, i could not believe i had made it to there, however, there was still another 45 minutes trek to reach the peak. I was tired, my face, fingers and feet were frozen. I had almost no energy, and as we took a few minutes stop at Stella, i thought of my old father back in the village and his greatest wish. That i could make it to the top and tell him how it is there, i remembered the sponsors who organized this trip, i remembered my encorager Tiny Cruiming and all her efforts, i could not just afford to give up when am only 45 minutes to the top.
My thoughts gave me courage, and i walked all the way to the roof of Africa, tears flowed freely from my eyes when i saw the beautiful sunrise, the amazing nature, i felt the slow with my walking stick. I could not believe i had made it there, tears kept flowing. Up there was very thin air, the guide insisted i should not take more than 10 minutes up there, i looked around, i stopped crying, then i smiled and told the guide i would love to climb Kilimanjaro again! He smiled and told me: Anything is possible Rose! He took a few photos of me at 5895m, one Photo of myself which was special for my Dad. Saddly the camera froze too, but we managed to make a Group Photo with part of the red rubber ball family.
We then began descending, It was more difficult than ascending, the guide held my hand and we did some sand skiing. It was tough, and half way, we met Kevin (Kevin was our comedian and very active), whom on this day, could not even answer my questions, he only nodded, his mouth open, probably he was still frozen. I looked back, and there was the beautiful view of the mountain again, i told Kevin to turn back and have a look, thats when he spoke and told me he had seen enough of the mountain!
On arrival at the camp where we began our trek that night, Kate Adam, gave me a very nice welcome with some juice and a hug and she was proud i did it, saddly for her with her health she did not make it, salute her for the far she reached, and Kate if you are reading this, am very proud of you. I went to the tent and it was sad for me to learn that my tent mate, and a very good friend Bakhita had given up and dint make it to the top too. She gave up just two hours before the finish point, am proud of her too. And to the other members of the team who also did not make it, Craig, Snowring and Kilonzo, you did your best, am proud of you all. Next time we will reach the top together!!!
Later that afternoon we continued our trek descending down to Millenium camp, where we spent the night. The following day we had a 7 hours trek down to Mweka gate, where we were welcomed by song and dance from the BIG Executions and safaris staff, the portes, the waiters , the cooks, and the guides. It felt good to be in the warm weather again, to sweat and be free from the many cloth- layers.
We were realy suprised by a buffet lunch, champagne, cold beer and other drinks. We ate and drank and later on the tipping party. I must say the staff we had did an amazing job, excellent is not enough. It was more than that, much more . Who expects a birthday cake on the mountain at above 4000m? Thanks to the cooks, we had very good english breakfast, 3 course meals everyday, hot water for beverages every time. We always left the camps and left the kitchen team still clearing the tables, and on arrival at our next camps. It was amazing to find that they had past us, walked ahead of us, and prepared the tent again and 3 course meals! Amazing. The entire staff, the guides were so patient with us, they were always there for us, the porters, and the tent team, Asanteni sana.
Lastly. Much thanks again to all those who made this trip possible for me and the others, and to end as a success. The entire Action challenge team, you were amazing, Jonas Rutta, you are one of a kind leader, i think i will climb Kilimanjaro again in future! Thank you all!