Monday, 2 September 2013

Kilimanjaro Challenge Day 8 30th August 2013

We started the final day on the mountain saying farewell to our amazing team. We had a tipping ceremony where we had all clubbed together tips to show our appreciation. Dean had divided the tips into envelopes for specific groups of the team ie Guides, assistant guides, porters, chef, etc. Dean asked if any volunteers would like to say a few words and hand over an envelope. I volunteered and was given an envelope fittingly for the summit porters, one of their crew was Adams who I owed a great debt of thanks for helping me to the top. When my turn came I stepped to the front, Godfrey translated my words for the members of the crew who did not have great English. I simply said that climbing the mountain was the hardest thing I'd ever done but having such a great team, no doubt made the job much easier.
Our team sang songs like the first night in camp. We shook hands and said our goodbyes then made the long 5 hour walk down hill back through the rainforest to Mweka gate, our exit from the mountain.
The walk was steep, rocky in parts, muddy and slippery in other parts. I walked most of the way down with Josie and Simon. I was pretty quiet most of the way down, deep in concentration. Descents are not my speciality. Having already had a few minor tumbles during the week, the thought of getting crocked on the last day did not appeal. By the end of the walk we had all about had enough of the descent. Finally we reached the gate. Some of our group had already got there. We waited for the rest of the group. Dave bought a supply of sprite which we all enjoyed, much nicer than water. After signing out we had a glass of bubbly each before boarding the bus to the hotel.
We got to the hotel, Andy went for a beer and I dived in the shower. I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror and laughed. What a complete mess. I had a moustache and goatee, as

well as quite a dirty dusty face. The shower and shave was heaven. Finally clean I had a beautiful buffet lunch. We remained in the bar drinking until dinner and had a wonderful meal and more drinks. We all wanted to celebrate our fantastic achievement. I tried my first skittle bomb, and Jaeger bomb, as well as several bottles of Kilimanjaro beer. It was a fun evening, many tough, determined people letting their hair down. This truly had been a special week, its something that will stay with me forever. The achievement in reaching the summit of Kilimanjaro is sinking in and fills me with great pride and also the confidence that now I have completed this challenge there is nothing I can't do if I set my mind to it.
It has also been special because of the people I enjoyed the challenge with. I met many amazing,wonderful people, kind, determined, fun people. I can honestly say I got on with everyone in our group and I don't think I ever heard anyone argue with anyone else. We formed a great team. Then of course there was our great support team. I still am in awe of them. Climbing Kili is their job, they make it look easy. They are truly amazing people who are kind and considerate and were so helpful.
I left Tanzania the following day flying to Nairobi for a very long 8 hour layover before flying back to London Heathrow on Sunday 1st September. Stepping off the plane wearily brought the curtain down on my amazing adventure, almost 8 months in the making. What started as an idea turned into an amazing reality. For a guy who had never climbed a mountain 8 months ago to be able to summit the highest free standing mountain in the world just goes to show that if you want something bad enough, if you believe in yourself and don't give up, then you can achieve whatever you want.

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