Climbing Kilimanjaro for older people in Ethiopia
I did it!! Thanks to those who have already donated so much and please keep on giving for older people in Ethiopia!
It was an amazing experience. The first six days were incredibly beautiful, with changing landscapes and vegitation.
Then, on the seventh day, I experienced eight hours of sheer hell - walking straight up hill, steeply, at midnight, after one hour's sleep and a few biscuits for breakfast.
It is below zero degrees and getting colder with every step uphill, trying to force yourself to eat and drink all the way up, although you don't want to. Several hundred other people are all doing the same thing - all with head torches, trudging up this endless mountain.
Feeling of elation
Then, finally, when you think it's just not worth it you get to the top. It's probably minus ten degrees with a wind chill factor of another ten or more, taking gloves off to take photos is a killer, you are exhausted and just want to go back down...
Irene (my other climbing partner who made it to the top) and I burst into tears on reaching both the crater rim and then the actual peak. It's an absolutely incredible feeling...the worst thing I've experienced other than giving birth, but similar in that the feeling of elation when it's done is incredible.
A few hours later, when you get back to "base camp" where we started from, you swear that you are all crazy, that you'd never do it again, just like child birth. A day later, we are all thinking how fantastic it was and, who knows, perhaps one day we'll do it again...
Sunrise happened between getting to the crater rim and the peak. It's picture perfect, but impossible to photograph with backlighting and hands freezing in the bitter wind. Finally, you start back down again, past glaciers, people still walking up, others being led down in a delirious state. You slide down, scramble, run, jump, try not to fall down or fall asleep.
After two hours you get back to camp and then you get an hour's rest, some lunch and have to walk another excruciating four hours downhill. That's more than twenty hours' walking (including the previous day) with one hour's sleep, not much food, bitter cold and huge altitude changes, which begs the questions: what for and why?
The exhilaration of it, the feeling of having beaten the mountain and of course the knowledge that something good will come of it for older people in Ethiopia...
Many thanks for all the donations and support.
You can still give through my Virgin Money fundraising page.
Find out more about our work to support older people in Ethiopia.