I got the dream job this winter. One of my good friends, Nick Ashley of Red Rock International, contacted me to ask if would like to climb Kilimanjaro with a group of international students from Qatar. My role would be mentor and guide, though the actual logistics and leading of the group would be done by a Tanzanian registered company.
The end of February found me landing in my fourth African country, and after a day of exploring I got to meet the group that I and many others had been preparing for. In total we were 14, from 10 countries: India, Pakistan, Qatar, Egypt, Philippines, Palestine, Bulgaria, Kyrgyzstan, USA & the UK. We worked out that between us we spoke 14 different languages. This was one special group!
Climbing the mountain is straightforward, there are no technical sections on the route we chose (The Rongai). The main issue is altitude. From day 3 this starts to kick in, and a few people starting to lose their appetite and generally feel unwell. By the summit day many people were feeling unwell, but everyone made it to the summit and back safely.
None of the participants had ever climbed a mountain, or been at altitude so their success is even more remarkable considering their lack of experience. I was so proud of each one and have come away from the trip richer from the whole experience, but most of all I felt it an enormous privilege to be in Africa again with such an amazing eclectic group!
Oh – and it was great to beat my previous altitude record, now at 5895 metres. It’ll take a while before my son will beat that …. I hope.