In 2006, I was asked to participate in a charity walk for Hospice Witwatersrand. Having said, “Yes”, I had to withdraw due to a work commitment. Being a Hospice counselor I know how badly the organization needed funds and exposure.
I wanted to fulfill my original commitment, but with what? I decided that it needed to be BIG and a challenge.
Kilimanjaro had been on my bucket list for seven years and this was the challenge that could fulfill my ambition and raise money for a worthy cause.
And so the 1485am Radio Today/Hospice Kilimanjaro Challenge 2006 was born.
I do not believe that you can conquer anything that you find in nature, but you can conquer your fear of the adventure that lies ahead. Kilimanjaro was there before me, and it will continue to exist long after I have gone—perhaps with less ice and snow, but it will still be there.
The words of a Donovan song sum up my Kilimanjaro experience: ‘First there is a mountain, then there is no mountain, then there is.’When I arrived at Kilimanjaro there was no mountain for two days, then suddenly there was. And when it finally revealed itself it was awesome. The expression ‘It took my breath away’ was brought home to me in more ways than one. We joked that the mountain did not exist and we were going to walk around for a week and then go home!
Almost at the summit…
Some Kilimanjaro trivia:
It was the inspiration for Ernest Hemmingway’s short story The Snows of Kilimanjaro (1936). It is also referred to in a Monty Python Flying Circus sketch. Toto’s 1982 hit song ‘Africa’ contains a line about Kilimanjaro.It was also used as a backdrop in the film The Lion King.
There are actually three summits on Kilimanjaro—Shira, Mawenzi and the Kibo.Uhuru peak is found on the latter. Unfortunately global warming is affecting Kibo and when I shared my photographs with a friend who had climbed in the 1950s he could not believe that we had both climbed the same mountain.Little or no snow exists at the summit. If the global-warming experts are to be believed,in a relatively short time, the remaining glaciers will also melt and disappear, leaving the mountain bare and featureless.
If you organize your climb to coincide with a full moon it will add a whole new dimension to your experience. But no matter when you climb, or which route you choose, it is difficult to not be affected by the mountain.
The human soul needs to be nurtured by the sights and sounds of nature. No matter how urbanized we become we all seem to hanker to get out of the cities and into the country. Perhaps somewhere in our DNA we still retain the some of our old hunter/gatherer gene.
This was at 6am and it was -2 deg C!
There were highs (many), lows (very few), and I got to see Africa from a whole new perspective. On my return a local journalist asked me if I had experienced any bad days on the mountain.
“Only one bad day,” I replied. “I had a severe headache and some nausea … however, I have dated women who have made me feel worse than that.”
I hope that reading this blog-book will inspire you to attempt your own ‘mountain’.