It seems surreal that two weeks ago the 9 intrepid TBS Warsaw adventurers were standing at 4700 meters, looking up at the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro and wistfully saying “until next time” – the mountain won on that day, 90mph winds and temperatures of -20 meant that we could not even begin to attempt the midnight summit journey, and being blown around by 70mph winds, in a tent, at 4700m was an experience that no one will ever forget. As one student said “I thought I would wake up in Kenya”.
For our team the plan was always to enjoy the experience and see how high we could go, and standing looking up at the summit, knowing that all nine of us were fit, well and ready for the final challenge was success in itself. A group of students and teachers from our school had climbed Mount Kilimanjaro and went as far as the mountain let us. She won….but so did we!.
The journey was incredible. From our arrival we know it was going to be special, this is unlike any other trip we had personally been on. It was not teachers and students. It was us, together as a team, no different all the same amount of nervous and excited.
The pre-expedition preparation at Shamba Kipara camp was a real eye-opener. This was serious fun. Fun, but also a level of serious. As we discussed altitude sickness and its impacts we started to get the understanding of what we were entering into so many times we asked “whose idea was this”? For a practice hike we walked through Arusha national park and ascended from 800m to 2100m on Mount Maru – a smaller peak that sits adjacent to Kilimanjaro. From 2100m the world looked small – what would it look like from 5800 meters.
The expedition itself took 7 days:
Day 1 took us from Machame gate to Machame Camp an easy 14km walk with a 1400m ascent, with the sun on our backs and
Day 2 Machame Camp to Shira Camp – a walk through freezing cloud up to 3600M and then down to 3400m
Day 3 Shira Camp to Barranco Camp. Our first hike to over 4000m – from here the world looked very small and we started to feel the real effects of altitude sickness – nausea, disorientation and fatigue
Day 4 Barranco Camp to Karanga Camp – this included the climbing of the Barranco wall, which felt a little like if you fell, you would fall off the earth, it was so high. This day also included my favourite quote of the trip “if my mum could see where we both are now, she would kill us both” It was here we also saw a midnight thunderstorm where the storm took place below us. That was incredible.
Day 5 Karanga Camp – Barafu Camp and out third day straight at being over 4000 meters for the whole day. This was to be our final camp before the summit, but unfortunately as we said the weather beat us in the end
Day 6 and 7 were our descent days, where we descended almost 4000 meters and 28km over the two days.
Throughout the trip the whole journey reminded me of Bilbo’s journey to the Lonely Mountain in the Hobbit. When we started the mountain seemed a long way off, by the end, it was frustratingly close and a bit of monster.
Have a great weekend.
Head of IBDP, University Advisor