Friday, 11 December 2009

On Kilimanjaro again (Post 10 of 10)

Wednesday October 7
What should be the shortest walk of the day usually becomes a difficult one because the toil of the past week and the strain and pain on the thigh and ankle muscles converge to remind me that I did not spend enough time on exercises to strengthen my muscles.

Gerald walked ahead with Ben, the assistant guide, while I walked behind with Yahoo and Notburga at a slower pace. The trek of the final day is mostly through dense forest, rich in vegetation, a variety of flowers, and bird species. The car was driven up a few kilometres to meet us before we reached the gate. We met only a sprinkling of climbers this morning unlike the huge crowds I saw on the last day during last year's climb.
As Gerald(left) and Yahoo (right) observe, Notburga registers her name at the offices of the Kilimanjaro National Parks Authority at Mweka Gate.
At Mweka Gate I indulged in a what might become a tradition with each successful ascent from Kilimanjaro: the consumption of the contents of one bottle of Kilimanjaro Lager. I read a report somewhere of someone seen wearing a t-shirt with an image of a bottle of Kilimanjaro Lager and the words: "If you can't climb it, drink it!" I have climbed it and drunk it for the second year running.

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Monday, 7 December 2009

On Kilimanjaro again (Post 9 of 10)

With Gerald Hando (left), at the summit

Tuesday October 6 (continued)
With the energy boost from the Red Bull I surged past Yahoo, Ben and Notburga who had stopped at Stella Point for a rest. Gerald Hando was nowhere in sight. I careered past several other climbers dragging themselves towards Uhuru Peak.
Yahoo (left) with Gerald Hando taking a stroll around the summit. Mt. Meru is seen in the background.
I felt I was high on whatever combination of items they packed into one of those cans; I didn't want to stop lest I lost the momentum and as I approached Gerald, who had stopped for a gasp of air, I told him I would walk ahead to Uhuru Peak so that I could take his photo when he arrived. He insisted that we remain together, so I stopped.

With Gerald (left) and Yahoo (right)
We reached Uhuru Peak just before 09:30 a.m. and Gerald explained later that he was overcome with such emotion that it took some effort to retain composure. It is a feeling that I too experienced during my first climb, and appears to be something felt by most first-time climbers. One of the guides told us a group of climbers broke down and wept uncontrollably on reaching the peak.
Gerald powering up for the descent and for his show at Clouds FM, 'Power Breakfast'
One thing I do not recall seeing at the summit last year are monuments (crucifix type) of climbers who reached the summit but died in the process. Someone said there were several of those at the summit. I also noticed several along the Lemosho route. Most are of porters.

Yes, people loose their lives while climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro just as countless others loose their lives while in their sleep. An estimated 10 to 15 people die each year on Mt. Kilimanjaro.
Allen, the harmonica player and mountain guide (seated in front), joins us for a photo with an unidentified guide (in brown coat)
We took the customary photos and had left within 30 minutes of reaching the summit. Yahoo, who had joined us, walked ahead to meet Ben and Notburga who had remained at Stella Point for a rest before turning back towards Barafu Camp.

Later, we teamed up with Yahoo and my most difficult part of the Kilimanjaro trek, the descent, began. Gerald and Yahoo would rush down ahead towards Barafu and frequently had to wait for me as my thigh and ankle muscles strained to cope with the rapid descent. I had suggested that they should not bother waiting for me but Yahoo insisted they would keep me within sight.
A view of Mawenzi Peak taken during my descent
On reaching Barafu Camp at 1:00 p.m. I was extremely exhausted. I applied some heat cream on my thighs and legs and got some relief. We rested for 2 hours and embarked on a 6-hour trek from Barafu through Millennium High Camp (at dusk) through a rocky section to Mweka Camp.

Next: The last hop

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Friday, 4 December 2009

On Kilimanjaro again (Post 8 of 10)

Tuesday October 6
About an hour into the climb towards Stella Point, I walked ahead with Yahoo and Gerald because it appeared Notburga was having trouble keeping up with the pace. I was worried she might decide to give up and turn back, but she didn't! Before dawn, she and Ben, the assistant guide, not only caught up with us but walked ahead of us and it took us considerable effort to catch up with them.

It was time for us to reflect on the Swahili saying: "Kutangulia si kufika." (Being ahead, doesn't mean getting there). Not the best translation, but it carries the meaning. From then on, we remained within sight of each other. She eventually reached Stella Point at around 8:00 a.m., a formidable feat in itself but Yahoo, noting that she had some difficulty with her breathing, suggested she should turn back, only a short distance before reaching the peak.

About an hour after we left Barafu Camp and throughout most of the slow trek during the night we kept hearing, periodically, the sound of a harmonica played downhill behind us. That someone had the energy to play a harmonica under those conditions not only seemed incredible to us (in fact Gerald, thought it an insult to those struggling up the mountain that someone else would have enough energy to both climb this steep section and also play the harmonica), but it reminded me of reading somewhere that as the Titanic was sinking a pianist kept on playing the piano until the Titanic - and the piano - was eventually drawn under the Atlantic Ocean. The sound of the harmonica evoked that scene on the sinking Titanic, a bad omen for our attempt to reach the peak.

The name of the harmonica player was Allen, a guide from Zara Tanzania Adventures, the same company that Yahoo worked for, who was leading a Spanish couple. We could hear him from a mile away because he spoke endlessly and when he was within hearing distance he spoke at us, but particularly with Yahoo. When he stopped speaking, he played the harmonica.
Mawenzi peak, just before sunrise
Day broke before we reached Stella Point and we had made such good progress that some of the climbers who seemed miles ahead were at a shouting distance and it appeared possible, as Allen had predicted, that we would surpass those who had started earlier. In fact we did on the final stretch from Stella Point to Uhuru Peak.

At about 4:00 a.m. before reaching Stella Point I suddenly became extremely exhausted. Midway through I had consumed the contents of one of my cans of Red Bull and Gerald also asked for one, but the energy from the Red Bull ran out about 40 metres short of Stella Point. In mountain distances, 40 metres can as well be 40 kilometres.

I paused, contemplated and did what appeared to be inevitable in the circumstances. I drank my second can of Red Bull, got an extra boost of energy and 'rocketed' towards Uhuru Peak.

Next: At the rooftop of Africa

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Saturday, 28 November 2009

On Kilimanjaro again (Post 7 of 10)

Monday 5 October
In the morning at Karanga Camp someone was playing the harp (we would cross paths with him the following day) Like yesterday, Mustapha from Nakuru (Kenya) called me to wish me luck. He said he is also keen to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro.
The mountain's unique vegetation
Before we left, someone asked: "How are you? Did you sleep well?" In other contexts such greetings are only a formality; while climbing Kilimanjaro you realize these are no mere formalities. Someone really wants to know.
The team of glaciologists observing Kilimanjaro's receding glaciers
We had a good view of Kibo today and the sun shone brightly in the morning. Gerald Hando went live again on Clouds FM and piled praise on the courage and determination of Notburga Maskini during the climb. "I am inspired," he said.

Today, a guide who said he is from Shinyanga but has a Chagga accent shared his views on how domestic tourism could develop by inculcating the culture of visiting local attractions in our children. When he mentioned the poor working conditions of the porters, he was supported by a flood of complaints by guides and porters who were listening to the conversation as we slowly made our way towards Barafu Camp, revealing an undercurrent of overall dissatisfaction.
The guide from Shinyanga walked ahead to his group and, thanks to the publicity raised by Gerald's daily dispatches to Clouds FM, told his visitors who we were and the objective of our climb. When we reached the group we were greeted with, "We heard you are climbing to raise money for charity. So are we, we've raised $150,000 for cancer research."
At the final valley before ascending to Barafu Camp I told the others that I would walk ahead to find out whether "I'm made of whisky or Coca-Cola." One of Mt. Kilimanjaro's routes, considered the easiest, is also called the Coca-Cola route, and the challenging routes are known as whisky routes. I made such good pace with little effort that I impressed myself. I went from ceding the way to porters to keeping up with their pace.
We had an early lunch and retired to our tents. I was upbeat and felt quite confident about my physical condition. Sometimes I was worried I had given too many horror stories about the difficulty of the final onslaught towards the summit that perhaps it would be detrimental to the morale of the others. I realized if I ever became an army recruitment officer, new recruitments will dwindle down to nothing.

About an hour before midnight we were awakened for the final climb to the summit.

Next: Reminiscent of the sinking of the Titanic.

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Wednesday, 25 November 2009

On Kilimanjaro again (Post 6 of 10)

Sunday 4 October
Before we left Barranco camp, Gerald was interviewed during the live broadcast of his own program "Power Breakfast" on Clouds FM. The broadcast had the effect of making everyone who was listening to the radio on Mt. Kilimanjaro to be aware of our presence. By the day's end, that included a large proportion of the porters and guides on the mountain and some of the other climbers.

We left Barranco Camp at our leisurely pace and within an hour we were trailing everyone. Nevertheless, I am impressed by how both Notburga and Gerald make mincemeat of the Great Barranco, maintaining an energetic pace throughout the day. It is at the Barranco climb where most first-time climbers give up and turn back, and where novice porters opt for non-climbing careers. It is one steep rocky climb that takes close to three hours, depending on one's pace.

At the top of the cliff, Notburga revealed she has eight cans of Red Bull, took out four and shared them with Gerald, Yahoo and Ben, the assistant guide. I still felt I didn't need an energy boost.

At around midday we met a group of British and American climbers, who were also on a fund raising climb, and one asked:

"Are you from South Africa?"
"No, we are Tanzanians."
"It's good to see Tanzanians climbing their own mountain."

That casual observation was so incredibly accurate that it actually defines one major characteristic of climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro. Apart from the porters and guides, at any one time there are more foreigners on the mountain than Tanzanian climbers.

At Karanga Camp Gerald, who was complaining of a bruised toe since yesterday, received crucial medical attention from Godfried, an Austrian doctor who is climbing the mountain with a group of glaciologists who are studying the mountain's shrinking glaciers.

I reached the conclusion that if there is one person who deserves to reach Uhuru Peak, it has to be Notburga. During the daily walks she recounts colorful tales of places around the world that she has visited - and they are numerous! As she says, she decided to climb Kilimanjaro because while in Ireland she met natives of Ireland who had climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro and she was embarrassed to reveal that she had not.

That, coincidentally, is also my story; before I began climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro last year I decided that the next time a foreigner who has climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro asks me that question I have to be able to say: "Yes. I have also climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro."

When I visited one of the VIP (Ventilated Improved Pit) latrines, I discovered someone had written, "Will you please p*** directly in the hole."
A view of Mawenzi peak from one of the VIP latrines
Notwithstanding the apparent inconsiderate behaviour and inconvenience caused by these toilet users, I would still have asked the following questions to the writer of that message:

- at 3,893m above sea level?
- with hands half frozen?
- while gasping for breath and struggling against altitude sickness?
- and having woken up from sleeping on a slope and struggling throughout the night not to slide downhill below the clouds, and all the way to Moshi?

I don't know...I don't know...

Next: Am I made of Coca-Cola or whisky?

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Saturday, 21 November 2009

On Mt. Kilimanjaro again (Post 5 of 10)

Saturday 3 October
In the morning I heard a porter's radio tuned to a station playing gospel music. You can hardly predict that people who so frequently use four letter words also listen to church music.

We woke up to a beautiful sunny morning, and knowing how unpredictable mountain weather is, hoped that the day would remain just as pleasant.

At breakfast, the discussions centred on the plight of the porters and what Gerald felt were poor working conditions. He also realised, today, the relevance of using walking poles; they considerably reduce the load on the feet.

On the news today, we heard that power shedding will begin, countrywide, from morning to 11 at night. I thought to myself, Dr Idris Rashid, the former chief executive of TANESCO, our national electricity supply company must be saying to himself, "I told you so!" Dr. Rashid came under criticism from parliamentarians for suggesting a course of action that would have avoided power shedding, but which the parliamentarians rejected.

Today's section was particularly difficult on the approach to Lava Tower where it began to snow on our arrival. Unlike last year, when the place was packed, it was totally deserted. Gerald and Notburga went absolutely berserk with excitement because of the snowfall and when we began the descent towards Barranco Camp everyone seemed in high spirits. When Notburga wondered why they felt they had smoked an illegal substance, Yahoo explained the snowfall increases the amount of oxygen in the atmosphere; we were all high on oxygen.

Nevertheless, the pace became quite slow; we reached Barranco well after dark. Today, I felt like I was maturing into a mountain guide; Yahoo walked ahead with Gerald and I stayed at the rear with Notburga.

Next: Are you from South Africa?

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Monday, 16 November 2009

On Kilimanjaro again (post 4 of 10)

Friday 2 October
"Fun" is not always accurate in describing climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro. When I say fun I actually mean the hard work. The second day of the Kilimanjaro trek on the Lemosho route involves a long walk. We bypassed Shira 1 Camp and camped at Shira Camp, our destination on this day. I recall that day last year as being particularly difficult.

We walked from Big Tree Camp through the Shira Plateau to East Shira Hill. The Shira Hills are described in literature as part of an extinct volcano whose peak stood much higher than Uhuru Peak the highest point on Mt. Kilimanjaro.

While on the plateau, and just before climbing towards East Shira Hill, it began to rain, and I remembered I had forgotten a nice raincoat that I had specifically bought recently in South Africa specifically to prevent getting soaked on Mt. Kilimanjaro. This was another instance of the disadvantage of failing memory when climbing Kilimanjaro.

The view from the top of East Shira Hill was stunning. Yahoo said the altitude was 4,000m and it is a detour from the main route which is recommended on the Lemosho route for acclimatizing climbers. Think of it as a vaccination against altitude sickness.

The East Shira Hill detour made me worry that Notburga might not cope well with climbing Kilimanjaro. It appeared she sometimes had difficulty with breathing, and it was only the second day. Gerald, on the other hand, appeared to be coping well and he had a sense of humor that was absolutely necessary in tackling the difficult stages. My worries about Notburga were later proved baseless.

At Shira Camp I met a guide who I also met last year and felt it was a remarkable coincidence. Unless you are a guide or a porter the chances of meeting someone you know on Mt. Kilimanjaro are quite remote.

Next: Gospel music on the mountain

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Thursday, 12 November 2009

On Kilimanjaro again (Post 3 of 10)

Thursday 1 October
In pilot talk a pre-flight check precedes all flights; the pilot goes through a list to ensure that the plane will actually take to flight without unforeseeable problems. There is a similar concept related to climbing a mountain. We went through the pre-Kilimanjaro check with Yahoo, our

mountain guide who also led my two person team last year, going through all our clothes and equipment to ensure that we were properly clothed and equipped and that no one freezes en route.

When all was well we hopped on a Land Rover and headed towards the starting point in western Kilimanjaro. Unfortunately the car developed some mechanical fault and we lost about an hour waiting for a replacement. That mishap didn't stop Gerald Hando from making several calls to Clouds FM to follow-up on progress of work he had left behind. The marvels of mobile communications! You never leave the work at the office; it follows you all the way up Kilimanjaro.

We were dropped at the starting point sometime after 3:00 PM and began a slow walk towards Big Tree Camp which we reached at around 7:30 PM. I recalled how exciting it was last year to begin the trek; and the feeling was the same this year.

I like to think that between the three of us, I was the more experienced climber, although given how unpredictable mountain climbing is, it is hardly wise to boast about anything; nevertheless,

I decided I would stay behind, a position I also chose last year.

Next: The fun begins

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Monday, 9 November 2009

On Mt. Kilimanjaro again (Post 2 of 10)

The good news is I did not loose my Kilimanjaro notes (diary), I found them in my bedroom on my return home; the bad news is I might be getting old and cannot remember where I leave things.

Wednesday 30th September
I boarded the flight from Mwanza to Kilimanjaro International Airport (KIA) through Dar es Salaam and reached KIA about 4:00PM. At Moshi I stayed at a quiet hostel and I suspect I was one of only two guests who slept there.

In the morning, the manager (or owner?) was curious to know where I was heading and when I revealed I was on my way to climb Kilimanjaro, he asked, "Where are you from?" Hearing that question made me feel like an alien from a distant planet. The man had only passing interest in me until I said I was on my way to Uhuru Peak.

I have heard a saying that people who climb mountains are not normal. I disagree. Those who climb once are perfectly normal. It is those who return to climb for the second time that are less than normal. In fact recalling my testimony of how tough it had been to climb last year, a waitress at the Moshi hotel where I stayed before the climb asked me, rather surprised, "You are back again?"

When I responded in the affirmative she asked, "I thought you said you will never climb this mountain again?"

I couldn't remember saying that but if I did that just shows how important it is to have a fading memory if you decide to climb Kilimanjaro more than once. Poor memory will not only make you to temporarily loose your Kilimanjaro diary, but it also most certainly will erase any unpleasant experiences you had from last year.

In the evening Notburga Maskini and Gerald Hando, who joined me on the climb this year, arrived at the hotel. Gerald brought me a camera that I borrowed from Muhidin Issa Michuzi to supplement my own camera so that I am not restricted by my camera's memory or battery hours and am able to take more photos than last year.

Next: The first steps

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Wednesday, 4 November 2009

Oops! I may have lost my Kilimanjaro notes

I may have lost the notebook on which I recorded my recent experience of climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro for the second time.

There are two possibilities: First, I may have dropped it while pulling out a book from my bag while on a flight yesterday from Mwanza to Dar es Salaam on Air Tanzania's De Havilland Dash 8 Series 300. Second, I could just have forgotten to pack it in my bag and it could actually be in my bedroom.

If I have lost the notebook, I have lost some important observations I made just after the climb, which I will not be able to recall a few weeks after the climb. I will find out within a few days. If the worse has happened, I will try to rewrite from memory what I can remember.

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Saturday, 31 October 2009

On Mt. Kilimanjaro again (Post 1 of 10)

When climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro last year I was not sure I would succeed in reaching the summit having taken seriously the warnings of the effects of altitude sickness on many first-time climbers. The person who designed a t-shirt with the words: "If you can't climb it, drink it", [If you can't climb the mountain, drink Kilimanjaro Lager] could be one of those climbers who succumbed to altitude sickness before reaching the summit.

I decided last year if I succeeded I would climb the mountain every year to raise money for charity. This year I climbed between October 1 - 8 and here is my experience divided up into 10 posts to provide some breathing space to readers.
28 September 2009
Sometime late in the morning, after I received an unexpected payment, I realized and decided that I could afford to depart from Butiama and spend the night at Mwanza before flying from Mwanza to the Kilimanjaro International Airport (KIA) through Dar es Salaam.

One of my sponsors last year, Air Tanzania Corporation, has been kind enough to give me free passage on their Dash 8 aircraft in support of my efforts to raise funds for charity.
Air Tanzania's De Havilland Dash 8
Rather than worry about how ill-prepared I am for climbing Kilimanjaro (experts recommend two months of intense exercising (I could count only about two weeks of riding around in a bicycle around Dar es Salaam), I am worried about the writing assignments I should complete before I set out to climb. I am due to write two articles for my regular column with the Sunday News, and a few extra assignments for the 10th anniversary of Mwalimu Julius Kambarage Nyerere's death. I was worried that I had bitten more than I could chew.

As I was about to drive off after midday I discovered both the car insurance premium and the road license had expired. I decided I had no option but to risk confronting the wrath of the law, but if the worse happened I decided I would plead for leniency because I was on my way to raise money for charity.

My heart skipped a beat on the way when at Bunda I was flagged down by a policeman who, to my relief, asked for a ride to the Baboon Bridge police post.

I spent the night trying to complete one of the my writing assignments. I slept at 0400.

Next: Where are you from?

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Saturday, 15 August 2009

The Mwalimu Nyerere Charity Climb 2009

My second climb of Mt. Kilimanjaro was centred on raising charitable donations for a Musoma-based organization called Community Alive.
As with last year, this year I am also combining my climb of Mt. Kilimanjaro with raising funds for charity. This year I am raising funds for Community Alive, an organization based in Musoma that is active in providing help to people affected by AIDS, primarily children.
Community Alive was launched in the mid nineties with the objective of informing youth and their peers on HIV/AIDS and what they can do to protect themselves, but has since evolved into a program that, today, assists people of all age groups affected by AIDS.
Community Alive's assistance to children includes:
  • education support activities (school uniforms, shoes, books and pens)
  • Home and school visits
  • counselling and recreational activities
  • food and medical support for families in need
  • socialisation and psychosocial support
    I would like to appeal to anyone who would like to support Community Alive and the Mwalimu Nyerere Charity Climb 2009 to donate through the following:
Community Alive
P.O. Box 327
Musoma, Tanzania.

Bank Account:
No. 064 - 6000246

Title of Bank Account:
Community Alive

Barclays Bank, Musoma Branch, Tanzania.

Further information on Community Alive can be obtained by writing directly to them at the mailing address provided above or by calling Joseph Musira (Project Manager) at: +255(028)2622430, or through his mobile No.: +255(078)7713 771.

Sunday, 9 August 2009

Preparing for Kilimanjaro Climb 2009 II

First the good news: I have finally managed to take into my possession a mountain bike to help me raise my fitness level for the Kilimanjaro Climb in September. I still have to pay my niece for the bike which she bought but has never used although I plan to convince her to donate it to me as her contribution to the Mwalimu Nyerere Charity Climb 2009.
The bad news: the bicycle is in Dar es Salaam, where I have been for the past week while I should have it at Butiama where I would be able to ride up and down Mt. Mtuzu. I have been riding it around Dar es Salaam and have been careful to dodge some of the road hogs of Dar who learn to drive on the road, rather than at a driving school.

Yesterday I met an individual who tells me he used to sell driving licenses at a cost of Sh.150,000 (approximately $US130), complete with driving test certificates and the necessary signed 'official' papers and permits. Some of the individuals to whom he has sold these licenses are drivers of public service vehicles. He would pay about a tenth of his selling price to a middlemen with the necessary connections to the relevant government offices.

Back to Kilimanjaro: I am still undecided whether I should take the bicycle to Butiama or keep it in Dar where I have found it is extremely convenient to use during rush hour and will take you to a destination faster than a vehicle. Which reminds me; I saw someone driving a yellow Lamborghini in the streets of Dar es Salaam two days ago and the only impression I have, considering the snail pace of traffic in Dar is: what a waste of money and horsepower.

Monday, 6 July 2009

Preparing for Kilimanjaro 2009

This would be equivalent to serving notice to Uhuru Peak that I am on my way to the top again. Yesterday, after what seemed to me like a millennium, I began exercising to prepare my seldom-exercised body for climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro in September.

With the help of a few Internet searches, I have also included a series of body building and endurance exercises, that do not require gym equipment. It is not out of choice but necessity that I am waiving time in a gym; the nearest gym is in Mwanza, about three hours' drive from Butiama.

A few days ago while buying some DVDs at a shop in Musoma, I saw some gadget that I had never seen before. It looked like a laser gun from one of the Star War movies. When I asked what it was I was told it was a piece of equipment that is used by bodybuilders to build chest muscles. You hold the two ends with the hands and bend the ends inwards towards each other. Well, I thought, if I don't succeed in climbing Kilimanjaro this time, perhaps I could consider entering the Mr. Tanzania competition.

It did not cost much, so I bought it, chipping away at my budget for buying a bicycle to build my leg and thigh muscles. I have developed my own exercises of stepping up and down part of a stairway to simulate the ascent and descent motions of mountain climbing. It sounds laughable but after waking up with some muscle pains after a one-hour workout yesterday, I know I am on the right track in attempting to strengthen my leg and thigh muscles for the next Kilimanjaro descent.

Tuesday, 23 June 2009

Time for some mountain trekking

I am supposed to be deep into preparations for my next scheduled Mt. Kilimanjaro climb in September this year. But if you ask me, there is little to show there are any serious preparations.

It will be my second attempt to reach the summit, a feat I accomplished last year. The hotel owner in Moshi where I returned after 8 days on the mountain last year observed: "Many first-time climbers usually walk with their heads down before the climb, but those who succeed in reaching the summit are changed fundamentally; they walk with their heads up!" I agree, after I climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro I thought I could conquer Mt. Everest.

During the first climb, I was also on a one-person mission to raise cash to contribute towards construction of girls' dormitories for the Chief Edward Wanzagi Girls' Secondary School at Buturu, close to Butiama. The climb raised more than $US20,000.
Photograph taken during construction of the dormitories at Chief Edward Wanzagi Girls' Secondary School. Construction has been completed.
This year, I intend to raise money for an organization in Musoma that cares for and pays for the education of AIDS orphans. When details are finalized I intend to publicise the event so that contributions can be made towards this objective.

A donation of cement (part of the more than $20,000 raised) being offloaded at the construction site of the dormitories.

Back to the training. Yahoo, my mountain guide from last year, suggested to me I buy a mountain bike and ride it as much as possible to strengthen my leg and thigh muscles in preparation for this year's climb. Climbing Kilimanjaro was tough, but the toughest part for me was the descent on a pair of legs whose muscles are only exercised when engaging the foot pedals while driving.

About two weeks ago I identified at a Musoma shop for used bicycles what I felt was a sturdy mountain bike that could ease my next descent from the top of Kilimanjaro. The trouble is I have been so busy with non-Kilimanjaro tasks that I suspect that the bike might already have been sold.

I intend to provide regular posts of my preparations for the next assault on Mt. Kilimanjaro.

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