Sunday, October 19, 2014

Kilimanjaro Challenge 2014. The team.

On October 3, 2014 our team set off for Kilimanjaro.
Months of training and planning were about to come to fruition....
Once again a big THANK YOU to our headline sponsors,
Princess Charlene of Monarco Foundation and Globeflight,
without whom this adventure would not have been possible

On 10 October 2014 the team stood at Uhuru Peak,
 raising awareness for this school and the work they do.
Educating the deaf started in King William's Town (Eastern Cape) in 1888.
The Congregation of the Dominican Sisters of St Catherine of Siena
 moved their school to a property in Melrose, Johannesburg called "The Haven"
The school was named after St Vincent Ferrer, a 14th century Dominican preacher,
renowned for restoring hearing to the deaf.
The school has been educating deaf children for the past 75 years.
To find out more about the school,
visit their website:

Let the adventure begin...
Terence and Winners proudly carrying the St Vincent School flag.
This flag was to feature extensively once Terence had made a plan to fly it on a daily baisis.
More about that later...

At Keys Hotel in Moshi.
At this point, this was the closest that three of the team had come to Kilimanjaro.
All that was to change within 24 hours.

Terence and Winners discovered that you could ACTUALLY see Kilimanjaro
from outside the front gate of the hotel.

Mr Cool?
Not the pair that Winners actually climbed with.
There is a thriving rental business going on at the gates.
You could hire a pair of sunglasses for $15 for the duration of the climb...
Or you could buy a pair for $7.00.
Do the math...

Paperwork done and signed,
we had a short ride to where we would have lunch
and then off to start our summit attempt

Terence packed and ready to move out...

This was my usual view of the team...
Taking pictures from behind.

I am invariably the one with the camera.
During the week, this little Go Pro on a stick, wielded by Terence,
I await his video footage with anticipation.

Time for food.
Aside from walking and sleeping,
this was the other major activity.

Again with the camera...

I have to admire Terence's ingenuity.
Not only was he able to make a "flag pole",
but it survived the winds that we encountered the higher up we got.
Well done.

A tent with a view...

I wonder what was being discussed?

And finally...
After a 6 hour climb, Terence and Winners are at Gilman's Point

The major achievement was getting deaf  Olympic swimmer Terence Parkin to the summit.
To the best of our knowledge, this feat on Friday 10/10/2014 at 07h20,
makes him the first South African Deaf swimmer to stand at Uhuru Peak.
You proved once again that the Deaf can do anything except hear!
I am certain that your students (and the staff) will be very proud of you
It must be said that his Olympic medal caused him some problems...
Not at the summit, but at both Kigali and Kilimanjaro Airports,
where security took an interest in it and examined it extensively.
Luckily, it was returned to him on both occasions.
I wonder what stories the security personnel told their families.

Winners Shishenge on his way back to the gate...
and then to a shower at the hotel!

For Bianca Schulte, summit day brought its own problems.
She was incredibly cold and not feeling very well.
However, she persevered and  made it to the summit with the rest of the team.
This photo was taken on the way down...where she looked MUCH happier

From pointing at the mountain,

Being on the mountain!
But at the end of the day, or should I say, in the early morning hours of Friday, 10/10/2014,
we all stood at the "new" sign at Uhuru Peak.
Eventually getting both flags to behave and wave proudly in the African sunshine.

The view that we all shared.

Back at the hotel.
Time to receive our WELL EARNED Certificates of Achievement.
With thanks to Isack and Roman forgetting us to the summit and back.

More about our headline sponsors and the work they do can be found on their websites:


This was the route chosen for the Kilimanjaro Challenge 2014.
Because there are fewer climbers on it and the daily walks are shorter.
Also you get to spend more time on the actual lip of the crater,
arriving at Gilman's Point and then walking to Stella Point 
and finally to Uhuru Peak

The Rongai Route
Sunday 05 October 2014  
After an early breakfast, a senior guide will conduct your climb briefing.   
You will then be driven to Rongai Gate, where you will meet the rest of your guides and porters. 
 After the formalities at the gate have been completed, begin your ascent to the first cave en route. 
 The climb should take approximately 2 to 3 hours.  
This part takes you through the cultivated area of the mountain, 
where you can see how local farmers tend to their lands on the slopes.  
Overnight at Simba Camp (1,800m).
Monday 06 October 2014  
Early in the morning, begin trekking out past the second cave, and on to the third cave.  
This should take you approximately 6 to 7 hours.  
The climb today is relatively difficult, taking you through forest and well into the moorland.  
Overnight at Kikelelwa Camp (3,800m).

Tuesday 07 October 2014  
This is an acclimatization day - you will hike further up the mountain, 
then return to third cave for overnight.

Wednesday 08 October 2014  
Continue ascending to Mawenzi Tam Hut, which should take approximately 7 hours to get to.  Overnight camping at Mawenzi Tam Hut (4,330m).
Thursday 09 October 2014  
Depart to Kibo Hut, which should take you approximately 4 to 5 hours.  
Settle down for an early night camping at Kibo Hut (4,703m). 

Friday 10 October 2014: 
Summit Day!!   
Today you will be heading for the highest point in Africa - Uhuru Peak (5,895m).  
You will be woken around midnight to commence the 5 hour hike,
 on heavy scree up to Gillman's Point (5,686m).  
You will be walking in the dark as the ground is frozen and this makes it easier to ascend this steep section.
 As you reach the Crater Rim, the sun should be rising to display Africa in all its glory beneath you.  
The views are spectacular and it makes the entire journey worth every step!
Continue another 1 or 2 hours to Uhuru Peak, along the wide paths of the crater rim, peering down onto massive glaciers shining in the morning sun. 
Arriving at Uhuru can be quite emotional, with the strain of the summit finally behind you and Africa surrounding you! 

After a few photographs at the summit, begin your steady descent to Kibo Hut for a rest and some nourishment, then continue to Horombo Hut to camp for overnight.

Saturday 11 October 2014  
After breakfast, descend to Marangu Gate.  
You will be transferred to Keys Hotel for a well-needed shower and an evening of celebration. 
 Overnight at Keys Hotel 
Sunday 12 October 2014  
Your tour ends today after breakfast and you will be transferred from Keys Hotel to Kilimanjaro Airport.


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Saturday, October 18, 2014

Kilimanjaro Challenge, 2014. Through my lens, part 2

A trip is not complete unless I come home with thousands of images.
On this trip, I limited myself to about 1500.

Almost time to the adventure to begin.
The flight from Kigali to Kilimanjaro International Airport takes about 70 minutes.
I have to give Kigali Airport 0/10 for amenities and 10/10 for security.
I am hoping that the facilities we had to use as transit passengers are temporary.

It seems that all airports buy their PA systems from the same company.
Cheap and Nasty...
No matter where the airport is, I certainly have difficulty trying to understand announcements.
Millions of $'s are spent on buildings,
and about $1.15 is spent on the PA.
At least in Kigali you can see the staff member making the announcement

Breakfast of champions...
Unless you are on a carb-free diet.
Keys Hotel also offers fresh fruit and a hot breakfast.

Something we understand all too well in South Africa.
There were power problems every night we spent at the hotel.
On our final evening, a tree fell on the incoming power lines,
AND the fan belt on the hotel generator had broken.
Power was restored in the early hours of the morning.
How did I know?
I forgot to turn my TV set off...

The scale-of-death...
Climbers are only allowed 12kg while on the mountain.
The guides are very strict about this and most of the team
 had to weigh their bags more than once to make the limit

The less I had to carry in my back pack the better I felt.
But I did carry a rain jacket every day.
Snacks and water made up the bulk of what I carried while walking.

Important to know...

I just liked the colour of this "window"...

I challenge anyone to attempt this balancing act!
The porters carry 20kg each.
This amount is daily as the food supplies dwindle.
The load is then re-allocated so that there is no discrepancy in the amounts carried

I wonder what the combined mileage of these boots would be...

These cairns are found allover the various routes.
As I have a feeling that this is my final trip to the mountain,
I added "my" rocks to a pile each day

Ice on our breakfast table...

Where my tent used to be.
The moment that you have packed your bag and are ready to leave,
staff dismantle the camp in double quick time.
They have to pack and  get to the next camp site before we did.
And this was accomplished every day!

Some of the scenery was spectacular.
We were able to se into Kenya from the Rongai Route

Alpine Desert, the most desolate of all the zones.

Four tourists were killed in this plane crash in November, 2008.
The pilot survived.
This was the main wreckage site,
however we found parts used along the route as markers.
There were also several pieces at Tarn Hut camp
In January, 2006, 3 American climbers and several porters were killed in a rock fall on the Western Breach route.
About 30000 climbers attempt Kilimanjaro every year, and 8-9 people die.
60% WILL make the summit,
and 40% (12000) will turn around or be asked to walk off the mountain for a variety of reasons
In January 2013, and Irish climber was killed by lightning

"I'm watching you"...
This individual was part of a group of Blue Monkeys
that took an interest on us as we left the mountain

My first image of sunrise from Gilman's Point.
The flash was bouncing off the ice particles in the air

This was the "real deal"...
About 30 minutes later from Stella Point.
Made every tough, cold, miserable step WORTHWHILE.

Not once, but twice...


"Travel & Things" was an entrant in this competition.
Not a winner, but one of 24 travel Blogs that entered

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