On the 10th of July I flew to Africa to start on my challenge of climbing Mount Kilimanjaro, the highest mountain in Africa, and the highest free-standing mountain in the world at 5,895 metres above sea level...

On the 10th of July I flew to Africa to start on my challenge of climbing Mount Kilimanjaro, the highest mountain in Africa, and the highest free-standing mountain in the world at 5,895 metres above sea level. This journey began nearly a year ago when I was tasked to raise nearly £3,000 for Hope For Children, a small and growing organisation that supports some of the most disadvantaged children in the world. The money raised by us at the University of Nottingham was going to support the work of the Mkombozi project in Tanzania to help vulnerable and homeless children already living/working on the streets of Moshi, a large town found at the foot of Mount Kilimanjaro.

The trek up Mount Kilimanjaro would take us up the Machame route, one of the most scenic routes but also one of the toughest due to the short climbing time with little time to acclimatise to the high altitudes which we would be experiencing. Our group of 35, all students at the University of Nottingham began our climb on the 12th of July with the first day predominantly spent trekking through the rain forest at the lead of our head guide ‘Cha Cha’. At the end of 7 hours of walking we reached the Machame camp, our home for the night where we were met by our group of 80 porters whom had gone ahead of us and set up all of our tents and cooked us a delicious meal. Without them our trip would have been impossible, there is no way we would have been able to carry all our tents, food and cooking equipment on our backs on top of what we were already carrying.

The second day would bring us to Shira camp after a shorter walk than the previous; we were treated with amazing views and one of the most beautiful sunsets I have ever seen! Day 3 was known as judgement day, we climbed up to Lava Tower and at a dizzying height of 4,630m this was the highest point of our trek so far and we were all starting to feel the affects the altitude would have on us. Despite taking daily Diamox tablets to help ease the effects of altitude sickness, I was starting to feel very worn out and tired out and having sinusitis at the same time was not helping, although apparently the cess pit toilets weren’t the best smelling so perhaps this was a good thing! After stopping for lunch at Lava Tower we dropped back down to a more comfortable height at Barranco Camp where we would spend the night; our last proper nights sleep before summit night!

The fourth day started with an early start and a steep accent up the 800 foot of Barannco wall which proved tough for some but I quite enjoyed the climb; this proved to be a very difficult day where we just kept going up and up with no sign of camp. After finally reaching Barafu camp in the early evening we had a quick dinner before heading to sleep for a few precious hours kip before it was time to summit! By this point I was feeling the altitude pretty badly with symptoms of breathlessness, sickness and a stonking headache so I struggled to get much sleep at all.

At 11:30 pm it was time to go, all of us feeling groggy and craving those few extra hours in bed; but we couldn’t wait any longer if we wanted to have a chance at summiting before sunrise. Looking up into the distance we could see the outline of Mount Kilimanjaro protruding 1,200 metres above us with the stars so clear, it truly was a beautiful sight. As we all moved upwards we started to thin out as a group with people dropping back as they struggled with the exertion and altitude sickness. After a few hours of trekking through the night I was really struggling with exhaustion and unfortunately didn’t make it to the summit in time for sunrise! Upon reaching Stella Point shortly after sunrise I received a new surge of energy upon being able to see Uhuru Point and knew that from here I would almost certainly be able to make the top despite constant doubts throughout the climb. An hour’s walk from Stella Point to Uhuru seemed to never end but the views on the final approach were simply unbelievable and like nothing I have ever seen before. At 8:50 am on the 16th of July I summited to the top of Mount Kilimanjaro, such an amazing experience but definitely one of the toughest things I have ever done! Of our group of 35, 32 made it to the summit of Uhuru, and 2 made it Stella Point so we did extremely well considering only 40% of all those who set off actually make it to the summit! This wasn’t the end of it though; we still had to go all the way back down again over the course of two days.

Upon getting back to the luxury of our hotel we were all glad to use a shower and sleep in a proper bed after 7 days of sleeping rough! Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro was not the end of this trip, following on from this I had the opportunity to visit project Mkombozi which we had been raising money for, a 2 day safari and then onto Zanzibar for a few days relaxation on the beach before flying back to the UK.

Jack at the summit

To take a look at some more photos from my trip check HERE!

I am now back in Nottingham for a few weeks training on the white water course before I head to America to compete in the 2013 Freestyle Kayaking World Championships.