Atisreal grads climb Mount Kilimanjaro
Five Atisreal’s graduates (Andrew Cotton, Richard Nichol, Michael Waller, Simon Rogers and Robert Walczak) successfully climbed Mount Kilimanjaro, raising over £2,300 for the Amani Children’s Home charity.
Robert Walczak describes the five day ascent, which took the grads from tropical rain forest to arctic conditions.
Day 1: Arrive at Machame Gate, (1,800m) and begin a six hour walk through the Machame Rainforest. The path is rough with many tree roots but leads us to the Machame Camp just below the tree line at an altitude of 3,000m. Although only at the end of our first day we are already above cloud level.
Day 2: After an early start we leave the rainforest environment and ascend 850m to Shira Camp. The path leads us into a heath and moorland area along a ridge of volcanic rock. After traversing the Shira plateau, (the oldest of the three volcanoes that make up the Kilimanjaro massif), we arrive at the camp and take in the impressive sunset views over the Shira Ridge to the west and Mount Meru to the south west.
Day 3: Turning sharply east from Shira, we climb steadily to a high point of 4,600m, close to the distinctive Lava Tower. So as to help with our overall acclimatization we then descend into the Great Barranco valley, ending at an altitude of 3,950m. Although only 100m higher than Shira Camp the day involves a total climb and descent of 750m through a rocky semi-desert climate.
Day 4: From the campsite we first tackle the imposing Barranco Wall, which involves a near vertical scramble of over 300m. After the Wall we cross the Karanga Valley, with its spectacular views of the southern ice-fields, comprising the Heim, Kersten and Decken glaciers. The exposed and rocky Barafu Camp (4,700m) is reached before sunset, where the temperature drops to around minus 7 degrees.
Day 5: With a wake-up call at 11pm we commence our final push to the summit. The terrain is steep with a rough ascent over loose scree and rocks to the crater rim. Having walked through the night we all summit at Uhuru Peak, (5,895m), experiencing a temperature of around minus 22 degrees. The ensuing sunrise raises both our body temperature and morale and we continue descending for the remainder of the day to Mweka Camp, (2,795m). We descend 3,100m from the summit half-running/half-sliding down the scree on our heels.
Day 6: From Mweka Camp we descend a further 1,600m through the rain forest, arriving at our finish point of the Mweka Gate. Completely exhausted but elated we are driven back to our base camp hotel and reflect on one of the most arduous and unforgettable weeks of our lives.
All the money raised has gone directly to the Amani Children’s Home, a grassroots Tanzanian charity that rescues street children and orphans from homelessness and restores hope in their lives. The day before our climb the group visited the children’s home, and met both staff and children alike. With one of the world’s poorest economies, weakening family ties and the ever-growing prevalence of HIV/AIDS, the problem of street children in Tanzania is growing daily. During their visit the group were shown how Amani is trying to help these affected children by offering them the basic necessities of a safe home, healthcare and food, attempting to reunite them with their families and offering them a variety of educational opportunities. Since opening its doors on 20 August 2001, increasing numbers of children have flocked to Amani. Some of these children are able to be reunited with their families, and the number of children at the home usually varies between 70 and 90 children at any given time.