Mount Kilimanjaro conquered on February 4th 2017
My recent trip to Africa and Kilimanjaro was without question one of the most challenging, demanding, exhilarating and emotional experiences I have put myself through, and I have done a lot! It was an emotional rollercoaster and one I will do again tomorrow again !!!
I have always had this hike on my bucketlist but never thought I’d be able to attempt it never mind accomplish it.
Well the opportunity came about when I saw Pat Divily was brining a group of people, along with the Earths Edge Adventure Company to climb Mount Kilimanjaro in February this year, so I jumped at the chance of doing a trip with Pat and booked my spot.
A total of 22 like minded adventure seekers headed off on January 28th for the long trip to the Kilimanjaro International Airport via Addis Ababa in Ethiopia. We had all bonded on previous training trips to Glendalough and Carrantuohill so we were well acquainted with each other, and all as excited as the next person.
A total of 7 days hiking was done in all through rain forests and various other terrains, with very changeable weather conditions and torrential down pours, sleeping in 2 man tents, eating in a mess tent with foldable chairs and table and with no shower or washing facilities! Sure what wasn’t there to like! The craic and banter that we shared though really lifted the spirits and kept smiles on our tired faces.
Through the first 5 days we climbed to a max height of 4600m, gradually acclimatising each day at various heights, getting us accustomed to the altitude and preparing us for summit night.
Summit night (on the night of day 5/ morning of day 6), without question was the most challenging. Being woken at 12 midnight to blustering howling winds that were shaking the tent off the ground, and having to get dressed in the dark with only a head torch for light. The coldness wasn’t too bad at the start but every layer of clothes was put on to keep the sharp wind out. We headed off on our attempt at 1.30 am, and after 8 hours of extremely slow and steady walking, with numerous breaks to catch our breath and rest the tired legs- we reached the summit of Uhuru Peak standing at 5895m high at 9.40 am on Saturday 4th February 2017.
Twenty of our group of 22 made it to the summit. Temperature at the top was only -5C with an extra -5C wind chill- not too cold really!!!
I truly did struggle with the last 3 hours of this climb as altitude sickness set in. I was aware of what I was doing but everything was in extremely slow motion and the blinding headache I had was unreal. We didn’t spend too long at the top due to most of us were suffering from the high altitude, so after a few quick group photos we left Uhuru Peak and started the descent home, and a quick descent of 3 hours brought us back to our base camp tents.
Despite it taking us 5 and 1/2 days to get to the summit- only 1 and 1/2 days was needed to get to the bottom. It was a fast descent as we were all just extremely exhausted and in dire need of showers and beers! The beers at the finishing gate really were worth it and went down a treat!
The trip was life changing and the memories and friends made will last a lifetime.
I sincerely hope that anyone else who attempts this climb gets as much exhilaration and personal insight from the trip that I did.
“Its not the mountain that we conquer but ourselves” – Edmund Hilary
“During my week spent on Kilimanjaro I experienced some of the highest highs and lowest lows of my life. But I am thankful for every single bit of it” – Sean O Donovan- one of my hiking buddies- I couldn’t have said it any better Sean