In October 2013 I was on Safari in Tanzania and ventured to the foothills of Kilimanjaro where I thought it would be a good idea to try to raise some money for charity and reach the summit on September 11th 2013 (my 40th birthday). Once I got back to the UK I approached one of my oldest school friends, David Rosie, who I’d gone all the way through school with (both Junior and High School). Fortunately he didn’t really take much persuading even when I told him the 40% success rate of reaching the summit.
If we’re honest we both left our training a little late. I started about 3 months before and pulled my hamstring in my 2nd week which stopped any further training for about 5 weeks. I was also having physiotherapy for neck and back problems I’d been having. Mentally I didn’t think I’d have any problems but I have to admit I was worried about my old body and my back in particular as I’d had part of a disc removed a few years previous. With only 6 weeks to go I was contacted by a client, Anthony McGrath, who offered to help us train and set up a brutal training regime 6 days a week which turned out to be both painful and invaluable.
Once we got to Kilimanjaro we were both feeling good and very positive. We had a meeting with our guide, Jeff, and he gave our gear the thumbs up so we were happy about that. We then had a discussion to ensure we new the dangers and symptoms of severe AMS (acute mountain sickness) and we discussed the medication we both picked up in the UK. Acetazolamide – which helps you by simulating breathing, makes your blood more acidic and lets it absorb more oxygen but can have bad side effects. Dexamethazone – which can help slow down any swelling of the brain and hopefully buy you time to get back down the mountain (fortunately we needed neither). We were also told there were no helicopters so if we had problems we would have to be carried down. Even this news didn’t dent our enthusiasm.
The next morning we met the rest of our team. There were 12 of us in total – 7 porters, a cook, an assistant guide and our guide. We then set off for the Machame gate as the Machame or ‘Whisky’ route was the one we’d be attempting. This is a different route to the one attempted by Chris Moyes et al. The route they tried was shorter, not as scenic and has a higher success rate.