Sunday, September 29, 2013

It's that time of the year...

It's that time of the year when I set off for another Mt. Kilimanjaro hike. I leave this morning on a 7-day hike on the Lemosho route.

Network permitting I will post some information on this blog as I progress towards the summit.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Riding with Ross Methven: day 14

Ross Methven is riding a bicycle from Edinburgh, Scotland, to Cape Town, South Africa. He is currently cycling through Tanzania and I am accompanying him on part of the Tanzanian leg. My Mt. Kilimanjaro guide, Yahoo, says cycling is one of the best training options for climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro.
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Sunday 18 August 2013
It feels good to be back on the road again. My knee joints were beginning to get used to the long rest we have had.
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If you want to donate to Ross' cause please follow this link:
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Ross said he removed a lot of grease and dirt from my bicycle's derailleur system. It rides so smoothly now that I managed to keep up with Ross for most of the short hop of 30 kilometres to Singida.

At some point along the way, Ross took a call from a friend in England. Phones are not always the best tool on a cycling trip although they have been useful to us when we needed to communicate when we were kilometres apart - which has almost always been the case.
On our way to Singida, Ross takes a call from England.
I have had to keep my phone switched on throughout our trip because, while cycling, I am also trying to supervise my daily work routine. I have answered important calls and not so important calls. I stop each time to answer a call and I haven't been too happy to answer a call and hear someone say: "I just wanted to say, 'hi'". I wish I could say: "I am busy. Don't call me until I get to Cape Town!" 

Related posts:

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Riding with Ross Methven: days off

Sunday 11 August 2013
As I had told Ross in Mwanza on day 5 of our cycling trip, I traveled back to Mwanza by bus to catch a plane to Mwanza and a flight to Dar es salaam the following day to attend a meeting.

During the bus ride to Mwanza a ticket inspector who boarded the bus in Shinyanga asked me where I had left my bicycle. I later told Ross that in those 11 days of cycling we probably began to attract the notice of the bus drivers and other bus employees who travel daily on the road between Mwanza and Dodoma.

During our 11 days of cycling so far, from Butiama to Iguguno, we had lodged an average of 52.84 kilometres per day (32 miles). I thought it was insignificant - because we planned a minimum of 55 kilometres of cycling daily - until someone at the meeting in Dar es Salaam commented that I looked extremely fit and was overflowing with energy. Then I decided 52.84 kilometres was good enough for me.

Almost a week later, I returned to Iguguno to resume our daily dose of cycling.

Related posts:
http://www.rossmethvensbigbikeride.co.uk/
http://blogkili.blogspot.com/2013/09/riding-with-ross-methven-day-13.html

Monday, September 16, 2013

Kibo and Mawenzi

When one gets over the initial challenge of climbing a mountain, there are two possible outcomes: one either becomes engulfed and takes interest in mountains wherever they appear, or one becomes totally repulsed by the initial experience and does not want to come close to even an anthill.
Mt. Kilimanjaro with Kibo, on the left, and Mawenzi, on the right as seen from Moshi.
I believe I am one of those in the former group and, had I started climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro twenty years ago, I would certainly have attempted the Seven Summits challenge, climbing the seven highest mountains of each of the seven continents.

The highest peak of Mt. Kilimanjaro is on Kibo.

Andrea Wobmann is another member of the Kilimanjaro Club

The Kilimanjaro Club lists people I know who have scaled Mt. Kilimanjaro, including those who join me every year on the annual Mwalimu Nyerere/Mt. Kilimanjaro Charity Climb and those who join me for my non-charity climbs.
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Andrea Wobmann joined me on the September 2011 Mwalimu Nyerere/Mt. Kilimanjaro Charity Climb. We reached the summit, Uhuru Peak, on the morning of 26th September 2011.
Andrea is one of the least tired looking individuals I have observed reaching the summit of Mt. Kilimanjaro. She abounds with energy. Not even the challenge of climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro changed her normal joyful mood. 
    No.
    Name
    Nationality
    Age
    Point Reached*
    Summit Date
    1.
    Madaraka Nyerere
    Tanzanian
    48
    Uhuru Peak
    24th August 2008
    2. 
    Le Huyhn
    Vietnamese
    Unknown
    Uhuru Peak
    25th August 2008
    3.
    Markus Geiger
    Swiss
    Unknown
    Uhuru Peak
    2009
    4.
    Gerald Hando
    Tanzanian
    Unknown
    Uhuru Peak
    6 October 2009
    5.
    Notburga Maskini
    Tanzanian
    49
    Stella Point
    6 October 2009
    6.
    Dmitry
    Russian(?)
    Unknown
    Uhuru Peak
    13 December 2010
    1.  
    Jaffar Amin
    Ugandan
    44
    Uhuru Peak
    13 December 2010
    1.  
    Mary Kalikawe
    Tanzanian
    Unknown
    Uhuru Peak
    10 December 2010
    1.  
    William Rutta
    Tanzanian
    Unknown
    Uhuru Peak
    10 December 2010
    1.  
    Steve Kamau
    Kenyan
    25
    Uhuru Peak
    26 September 2011
    1.  
    Jim Becket
    American
    74
    Uhuru Peak
    26 September 2011
    1.  
    Andrea Wobmann
    Swiss
    39
    Uhuru Peak
    26 September 2011
    *A climber is awarded a certificate for reaching one of three elevations: Uhuru Peak (5,895 AMSL), Stella Point (5,745 AMSL), or Gillman's Point (5,685 AMSL).

A dearth of African names on Mt. Kilimanjaro

Africa's highest peak, Mt. Kilimanjaro, has a lot of non-African names. In fact someone unfamiliar with the mountain who glances at the glacier names on the mountain's map can be mistaken he is observing a map of a European summit.

Rebmann Glacier is named after German explorer and missionary, Johann Rebmann who first reported seeing the snow-capped mountain rise above the African plains in 1848. Hans Meyer has a memorial on Mt. Kilimanjaro in recognition of being the first European to reach Mt. Kilimanjaro's summit. Furtwängler Glacier is named after Walter Furtwängler who, with Siegfried König, were the fourth to reach the summit in 1912. There are several other glaciers with non-African names: Credner, Drygalski, Ratzel, Decken, Heim, and Balleto.
A section of Furtwängler Glacier as seen from Crater Camp.
Even when they ran out of names, the namers decided that some of glaciers will have combinations of English words: there is a Northern Icefield and a Southern Icefield.

When Hans Meyer reached the summit in 1889 he was accompanied by nine porters, a guide, a cook, and two local headmen. None of them is known by name, but it is believed that one of them was Yohani Kinyala Lauwo who died in Marangu on the slopes of Mt. Kilimanjaro in 1996 at an estimated age of 125 years.

Apparently there is a place on Mt. Kilimanjaro named after him: Yohana's Notch. But I have difficulty finding its location on any map. Which could be a good reason to rename one of those "polar" icefields (Northern Icefield, and Southern Icefield) after him.

Caught up in a cycle race

Ross Methven is riding a bicycle from Edinburgh, Scotland, to Cape Town, South Africa. He is currently cycling through Tanzania and I am accompanying him on part of the Tanzanian leg. My Mt. Kilimanjaro guide, Yahoo, says cycling is one of the best training options for climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro.
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On day 11 of riding with Ross in Tanzania, were were caught up in a bicycle race sponsored by Tanzania Breweries Limited's Safari Lager Brand. To some spectators along the way our presence in the midst of this cycle race drew curious comments, some sarcastic. I could tell the comments were impolite because when I slowly cycled past a group of spectators the entire group would laugh. 

I suspected the prevailing comment was: "In what year will these two super slow cyclists complete the race?"
Those comments did not prevent Ross from reporting who was the ideal race leader.

Related posts:

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Big mountain, giant plants

Some of the plants on Mt. Kilimanjaro come in mountainous proportions. One of these is the dendrosenecio kilimanjari, a giant groundsel.

The Barranco valley on the approach to the Barranco camp from the Lava Tower has a large collection of these giant plants.

Riding with Ross Methven: day 13

Ross Methven is riding a bicycle from Edinburgh, Scotland, to Cape Town, South Africa. He is currently cycling through Tanzania and I am accompanying him on part of the Tanzanian leg. My Mt. Kilimanjaro guide, Yahoo, says cycling is one of the best training options for climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro.
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Saturday 10 August 2013
Today we confronted cycling's breakfast climb. The old road from Shelui to Singida passed through the famous steep Sekenke mountains where, because of the sharp incline, it was a place where heavy duty trucks occasionally failed to pass through.

The new road avoids Sekenke and has a less severe incline - for vehicles. For cyclists there is little relief. Even Ross admitted later today that he also was forced to get off his bicycle and walked. I was relieved to hear that; I thought there was something wrong with me.
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If you want to donate to Ross' cause please follow this link:
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Comparing cycling with climbing Kilimanjaro I notice one significant contrast. On Kilimanjaro, when I stop to pause while climbing through a steep section I suffer a great deal when I resume the hike. My heartbeats increase considerably for the initial few minutes and it takes a while for the heartbeat rate to settle down to a comfortable level. Consequently, on Kilimanjaro I prefer to rest at the top of a ridge and it becomes less stressful when I resume walking.

In contrast, during this cycling trip, when I stop for a few minutes at an uphill section I get a huge relief on my aching leg muscles and when I resume, except for 2 minutes of added stress, the rests provide a welcome relief.

The next village following the long Sekenke climb was Misigara. There we had one more round of tea and chapatis: I had three; Ross had one. Food is a necessary fuel to a cyclist. And the more regular it is consumed the easier it is to cycle for prolonged hours.

We also bought from a machinga (itinerant trader) two daggers, adding to our collection of self-defense tools. I told Ross: "No one with evil intentions would get close to if you hold one of those." Unless he is crazy. I cautioned him to remember to pack his dagger in his checked luggage during a flight. I said: "Airport security will not permit you to take that inside a plane."

Getting caught with such a memento from his Tanzanian trip would be, we agreed, one of the surest ways of getting on a free private jet flight to Guantanamo Bay. And it doesn't help that the edged blade gives it an arabic character.
The memento from Misigara next to my bicycle.
Having cycled 60-plus kilometres to Iguguno, our destination, Ross explained that he normally rides for 3 - 4 days before resting. The fact that we cycled for 7 days without a rest is no small achievement, even for him.

Next: days off

Related posts:
http://www.rossmethvensbigbikeride.co.uk/
http://blogkili.blogspot.com/2013/09/riding-with-ross-methven-day-12.html

Jim Becket is the senior member of the Kilimanjaro Club

The Kilimanjaro Club lists people I know who have scaled Mt. Kilimanjaro, including those who join me every year on the annual Mwalimu Nyerere/Mt. Kilimanjaro Charity Climb and those who join me for my non-charity climbs.
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Jim Becket is the senior member of the Kilimanjaro Club. When I climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro with him and a group of other climbers from the United States, Uganda, Switzerland, Kenya, and Tanzania in September 2011 he revealed he was 74 years old. By the time we completed the climb he was 75.
Jim Becket, left, at the summit of Mt. Kilimanjaro.
He is the reason why I tell everyone who hesitates to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro (especially younger people) that there are very few people who have an excuse not to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro.

The updated list of the Kilimanjaro Club is:

    No.
    Name
    Nationality
    Age
    Point Reached*
    Summit Date
    1.
    Madaraka Nyerere
    Tanzanian
    48
    Uhuru Peak
    24th August 2008
    2. 
    Le Huyhn
    Vietnamese
    Unknown
    Uhuru Peak
    25th August 2008
    3.
    Markus Geiger
    Swiss
    Unknown
    Uhuru Peak
    2009
    4.
    Gerald Hando
    Tanzanian
    Unknown
    Uhuru Peak
    6 October 2009
    5.
    Notburga Maskini
    Tanzanian
    49
    Stella Point
    6 October 2009
    6.
    Dmitry
    Russian(?)
    Unknown
    Uhuru Peak
    13 December 2010
    1.  
    Jaffar Amin
    Ugandan
    44
    Uhuru Peak
    13 December 2010
    1.  
    Mary Kalikawe
    Tanzanian
    Unknown
    Uhuru Peak
    10 December 2010
    1.  
    William Rutta
    Tanzanian
    Unknown
    Uhuru Peak
    10 December 2010
    1.  
    Steve Kamau
    Kenyan
    25
    Uhuru Peak
    26 September 2011
    1.  
    Jim Becket
    American
    74
    Uhuru Peak
    26 September 2011
    *A climber is awarded a certificate for reaching one of three elevations: Uhuru Peak (5,895 AMSL), Stella Point (5,745 AMSL), or Gillman's Point (5,685 AMSL).

Relevant link:

Friday, September 13, 2013

Riding with Ross Methven: day 12

Ross Methven is riding a bicycle from Edinburgh, Scotland, to Cape Town, South Africa. He is currently cycling through Tanzania and I am accompanying him on part of the Tanzanian leg. My Mt. Kilimanjaro guide, Yahoo, says cycling is one of the best training options for climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro.
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Friday 9 August 2013
I felt much stronger as we cycled the 30-or-so kilometres to Igunga on our way to Shelui.

Today we paddled the longest and toughest stretch yet. Ross noted we covered 49.5 miles, approximately 78.4 kilometres, to Shelui.

The approach to Shelui was the most difficult yet, with a strong head wind throughout the day. Throughout the day I kept watch for the mountain range located some kilometres beyond Shelui which, once sighted, would signal that the end of our longest cycling day would soon be over. I saw the mountain range early in the day and was relieved by the gradual but slow approach I made. Ross had cycled ahead of me as we had agreed.

My spirits were lifted each time the road turned directly towards the mountain range but I was also, time and time again, hugely disappointed as the road turned away from the mountain range. The end of the day was near and yet extremely elusive.
Just after 6:00 PM, the elusive range of mountains was visible in the horizon and the day's cycling seemed to me nearing completion.
At the edge of Shelui, I saw a bright light approach from the opposite side. I thought it was a motorcycle; in fact, it was Ross. Although there was adequate daylight, the sun had already set and he had set off to meet me and ride ahead of me to illuminate the road ahead in case darkness caught me on the road. I did not have bicycle light.
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If you want to donate to Ross' cause please follow this link:
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It was the Moslem festival of Eid today, the end of the fast, and Shelui was in a festive mood and milling with people. It took a number of visits to guest houses before I found rooms at Beach Hotel (there is neither sea, nor ocean anywhere near Shelui. I didn't even notice a pond.) for Shs.10,000 each ($US 6.25). The attendant said: "I have to warn you, women guests are not allowed in your rooms."

"After almost 80 kilometres of cycling? You cannot be serious." That was our mutual reaction, but we kept the reactions to ourselves.

For dinner we ate chipsi mayai, a Tanzanian specialty which is basically an omelette mixed with chips. It was the best I had eaten.

Related posts:
http://www.rossmethvensbigbikeride.co.uk/
http://blogkili.blogspot.com/2013/09/riding-with-ross-methven-day-11.html

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Riding with Ross Methven: day 11

Ross Methven is riding a bicycle from Edinburgh, Scotland, to Cape Town, South Africa. He is currently cycling through Tanzania and I am accompanying him on part of the Tanzanian leg. My Mt. Kilimanjaro guide, Yahoo, says cycling is one of the best training options for climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro.
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Thursday 8 August 2013
This is the day we had planned to ride a monumental 80 kilometres. We didn't and there are several reasons why.

First, the waitress told us yesterday that breakfast is served at 0600hrs; by 0645hrs the cook's were still dragging themselves in the kitchen and not in any hurry to prepare breakfast. We went to a nearby location where we had our breakfast and departed before 0800hrs. We had planned to leave an hour earlier.

A little after we left we attached the rear view mirrors that I bought yesterday for Shs.1,500 each ($US 0.94). It was the most important purchase we have made yet on this trip. No more straining the neck to watch approaching traffic.

I am still cycling far behind Ross but today I only got off the bicycle once to walk up a short but relatively steep uphill section.
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If you want to donate to Ross' cause please follow this link:
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At the 50-kilometre point we camped at a place called Nanga. The locals said the next village on our route did not have suitable accommodation. And, we decided, at 30 kilometres away, Igunga was too far. Ross said: "This is supposed to be fun. We don't have to punish ourselves."
The shopkeeper at Nanga, first left, talks to me in front of his shop.  
And that was how we ended up stopping at Nanga and spending part of the evening shooting pool.

That was after Ross visited the local barber for a haircut. I attempted to discourage him not to allow his hair to be experimented upon by a barber who may not have the experience to cut Ross' hair. The haircut went well. The barber was not only good at haircuts, but equally so at overcharging. Ross had noticed the rates on a notice board, which were lower than what the barber demanded. When he pointed that out the barber said it was all a joke; he had no intention of overcharging. We did not believe him.
One thing about long distance cycling is it's a boring repetitive process and I told Ross I understand why it was necessary every so often to break off for a few days to rest and explore the local surroundings.

Next: At Shelui, no women permitted at the hotel

Related posts:
http://www.rossmethvensbigbikeride.co.uk/
http://blogkili.blogspot.com/2013/09/riding-with-ross-methven-day-10.html
http://blogkili.blogspot.com/2013/09/riding-with-ross-methven-day-12.html

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Steve Kamau is also a member of the Kilimanjaro Club

The Kilimanjaro Club lists people I know who have scaled Mt. Kilimanjaro, including those who join me every year on the annual Mwalimu Nyerere/Mt. Kilimanjaro Charity Climb and those who join me for my non-charity climbs.
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When I was planning my annual Kilimanjaro climb in 2010, Steve Kamau of Zara Tanzania Adventures helped me along. I suggested to him he should consider climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro so that the next time he suggests a Kilimanjaro climb for a client of Zara, he would have the experience of climbing this World-famous mountain himself to support his pitch.
Steve Kamau during the September 2011 Mt. Kilimanjaro climb.
He accepted my suggestion and joined me on the 4th Mwalimu Nyerere/Mt. Kilimanjaro Charity Climb in September 2011.

He becomes the tenth member of the Kilimanjaro Club.

The updated list of the club members is:

    No.
    Name
    Nationality
    Age
    Point Reached*
    Summit Date
    1.
    Madaraka Nyerere
    Tanzanian
    48
    Uhuru Peak
    24th August 2008
    2. 
    Le Huyhn
    Vietnamese
    Unknown
    Uhuru Peak
    25th August 2008
    3.
    Markus Geiger
    Swiss
    Unknown
    Uhuru Peak
    2009
    4.
    Gerald Hando
    Tanzanian
    Unknown
    Uhuru Peak
    6 October 2009
    5.
    Notburga Maskini
    Tanzanian
    49
    Stella Point
    6 October 2009
    6.
    Dmitry
    Russian(?)
    Unknown
    Uhuru Peak
    13 December 2010
    1.  
    Jaffar Amin
    Ugandan
    44
    Uhuru Peak
    13 December 2010
    1.  
    Mary Kalikawe
    Tanzanian
    Unknown
    Uhuru Peak
    10 December 2010
    1.  
    William Rutta
    Tanzanian
    Unknown
    Uhuru Peak
    10 December 2010
    1.  
    Steve Kamau
    Kenyan
    25
    Uhuru Peak
    26 September 2011
    *A climber is awarded a certificate for reaching one of three elevations: Uhuru Peak (5,895 AMSL), Stella Point (5,745 AMSL), or Gillman's Point (5,685 AMSL).

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Riding with Ross Methven: day 10

Ross Methven is riding a bicycle from Edinburgh, Scotland, to Cape Town, South Africa. He is currently cycling through Tanzania and I am accompanying him on part of the Tanzanian leg. My Mt. Kilimanjaro guide, Yahoo, says cycling is one of the best training options for climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro.
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Wednesday 7 August 2013
The guest sandals in the rooms at the Bondeni Guest House in Tinde have two separate colours, to discourage guests from stealing the sandals.
The blue and red sandal combination of Tinde's Bondeni Guest House whose floor is crying for a facelift. My feet are also probably crying for a pedicure.
Chapati and green tea is by now the established choice for breakfast. At "Kontena", where we ate last night, I had chicken soup with two chapatis and, not quite satisfied with the portions, added two more chapatis while Ross had tea with two chapatis. In my case, lack of appetite is not an issue. And I can say that for Ross with some certainty.

Then we set off on a short cycling leg of only 40 kilometres to Nzega.
Most places we stayed in allowed us to take our bicycle inside the rooms. The hotel room in Nzega.
When we stopped for lunch at Nzega Ndogo and mentioned how far we have cycled so far (I normally first mention my distance and then, for emphasis, I mention how far Ross has cycled) and how far it is to the final intended destination, a few people ask: "Why don't you take the bus?" I imagine there would be less support for Ross to raise donations for UNICEF if he chose to drive a car from Scotland to South Africa rather than cycle that distance.
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If you want to donate to Ross' cause please follow this link:
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Next: In the midst of a cycle race

Related posts:
http://www.rossmethvensbigbikeride.co.uk/
http://blogkili.blogspot.com/2013/08/riding-with-ross-methven-day-9.html
http://blogkili.blogspot.com/2013/09/riding-with-ross-methven-day-11.html