Since getting to the top of Kilimanjaro and returning to normality I have wanted to write about and share my experiences but not known where to start. 3 months on and my response to anyone asking what it was like is still “MASSIVE! Like….MASSIVE”. I learnt at an early age that no-one will ever understand what a day in the mountains meant to you personally. I’m not sure if it’s because of that understanding, or simply because I’ve never been very good at story telling that I struggle to verbalise the experience, let alone write about it. Either way Im going to give it a go!
As minor and insignificant as my first entry may appear (purely travel based), the travel was not as big an ordeal as I had initially anticipated. Those of you in the know will be understanding of the effects sitting or standing for any longer than 15 minutes can have. Those of you who don’t, I’m sure can appreciate sitting in one position for any longer than an hour isn’t ideal! Our first flight was 9 hours, which originally felt a daunting task in itself. However we were supplied with leg room a-plenty(ish), red wine (for the lads) and water/Coca Cola (for yours truly) on tap from the off! The two meals served had flavour and the staff had character. It also allowed some bonding time and wind-down time with some top notch blockbusters. I say allowed some bonding time, one of our team mates decided to upgrade his seat to first class and separate himself from us normos for 9 hours with little to no extra perks. It did only cost him 650 for the pleasure though!
Overall a pleasant experience and just as I had hoped, manageable on the pain scale with paracetamol and ibuprofen maintaining a bareable 4 with the odd 7 shooty pain here and there.
The transfer flight was the most exciting of the two. Small enough to feel like a private jet we played “spot the hiker”, were treated to a second breakfast and a simply epic view of the challenge ahead! Before seeing the top of Kili from the plane I was quite content with giving it a good crack but admitting defeat early doors. Quite keen on collecting passport stamps I was excited to see a bit of Africa and congratulate my buddies on their victorious trek with a cold beer and a hand shake, whilst attempting to hide my jealousy. As we all know this wasn’t the case but until that moment I would have settled for second best.
Seeing the snow capped beauty standing fearcly above the clouds filled me with emotions I don’t think I’d ever truly felt before. Excitement, fear and passion combined with a rush of adrenaline resulted in determination beyond measure. Glued to the window I was hooked. Lost for words and not able to hear anyone else’s I studied that mistress of a mountain from the air with respect. Never have I wanted to accomplish something so badly. Transfixed and unable to form sentences I sat in silence for the rest of the transfer trying to remain realistic and calm.
At the time I was unaware we were flying 1000 metres below the summit. The pilot kindly kept this little nugget of truth to himself until the flight back. Ignorant to that fact, I felt a strange sense of calm creep over me as I gazed across a sea of cloud at my end goal.
I had come with intention to give the World’s highest free standing mountain a good go and enjoy the adventure either side. That was no longer good enough. I was no longer willing to settle for second best. I came to climb a mountain, and climb that fucking mountain I would!