Monday, 31 January 2011

The Mwalimu Nyerere/Mt. Kilimanjaro Charity Climb 2010 (post 6 of 12)

This is the sixth of twelve posts on the December 2010 Mt. Kilimanjaro climb.
Tuesday 7 December, 2010
Rather appropriate for the occasion, I had a mountain of tasks to complete in the morning. Yesterday, I failed to log on to the Internet and I thought the system was down. In reality, I found out this morning, I had run out of credit. There were three urgent tasks I had to complete before embarking for the 3rd annual Mwalimu Nyerere/Mt. Kilimanjaro Charity Climb:
  • email photos of yesterday's press conference to journalists
  • file next week's article for my weekly newspaper column
  • email parts photos to equipment manufacturer Hydraform 
I somehow managed and rushed to have breakfast before the restaurant closed. I probably was the last customer to have breakfast. By the time I took my shower Jaffar, Yahoo, our guide, and Ludovick, one of the porters, were already waiting for me in the car.

Jaffar is in good spirits, which is an extremely important character trait ahead of any Kilimanjaro climb. Before we boarded the car he called everyone who was near the car - there were about 15 porters waiting for other clients - and insisted we take a photo together in front of the Land Rover.

Find the Land Rover, if you can. Porters join us for a photo in front of the Land Rover that is completely obstructed from view. Zara's Springlands Hotel at Moshi is an extremely busy location and the starting point for Mt. Kilimanjaro climbs. On most mornings during the high season there are several groups of climbers leaving for Mt. Kilimanjaro through various routes. The porters normally gather each morning at the hotel for the daily departures.
We made our first stop at an equipment rental shop, Gladys Adventure & Safaris to hire extra gear we could not obtain at Zara Tanzania Adventure's Springlands Hotel. Yahoo explained later that a group of over fifty Australian students who were also climbing the mountain, and who were particularly vociferous at night, had depleted Zara's mountain climbing equipment.

When we stopped at the supermarket on the Moshi - Arusha road, one of two policemen on patrol recognized me and later told me he is from Butiama. Later they recognized Jaffar and from their excitement I thought they would have asked for an autograph. They did not.
L-R, the author of this post, Jaffar Amin, and Yahoo, our experienced mountain guide.
It has been raining since yesterday morning and, consequently, the road from Londorossi Gate to the drop-off point at the edge of the forest was so rough and treacherous that we were dropped about 30 minutes' walk from the normal departure point, which we reached at 1600hrs.

Before today, I imagined trekking in the rain presented no extra challenges. I was wrong. The slopes are slippery and physically testing, both on ascents and descents.

Because it was overcast, darkness came quickly and I was the only one who carried a head torch. I had the extra task not only of lighting the path ahead of Yahoo, our guide, but also for Jaffar, in the middle. Furthermore, I also had to light up my own path. It was a case of swinging up for Yahoo, midway for Jaffar, and down at my feet.

At Mti Mkubwa camp I thought I heard Jaffar groaning in pain in his tent, and I feared this year's climb might end early. I was mistaken, because at dinner he seemed fine.

Next: The Seven Hills challenge.

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