Killyman

When you tackle an Ironman you train so that you can push your body to finish the 3.8k Swim, 180K Bike and the Marathon Run.  However when you live at sea level how do you train for an assault on the World’s highest free standing Mountain, Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania which stands at 5,895 Metres?

That was the problem facing Nick Brown and I as we flew out of BIA to London Heathrow and then onwards to Nairobi on Air Kenya.  We then had a quick flight to Kili Airport where we landed to be met by the ever smiling Castro who was to be our conduit for the next week or so.  As we sweated in the 30 degrees heat, I thought of the challenge ahead – and how was I to transform myself from an Ironman into a Killy Man?

Kilimanjaro Elephant

We had booked our Trek through the excellent local company called Alternative Adventure based in Portstewart where the indefatigable Chris gave us all of the right info.  When we met the rest of our 19 strong group, they were all incredibly impressed by Chris’s willingness to answer all questions no matter how apparently trivial.

We had our briefing at 11.00 a.m. on the Monday.  We all felt like the new boy on the opening day of school.  Plonked straight in front of us was a reminder that what we had signed up to was slightly more than a walk in the Park.  There was a huge First Aid Kit on the table and we were briefed on emergency procedures and details of how we would be helped off the Mountain if things went badly wrong.  At altitude all sorts of problems can occur in your body

Altitude Problems

  • Lungs: Due to the thin air you become short of breath resulting in   gasping and coughing.
  • Heart/Blood:  Your blood will thicken.
  • Kidneys:Exercising and dry air and altitude causes dehydration so we will all have to drink several litres water a day more than normal.
  • Stomach:Due to altitude mountain sickness we could feel pretty sick.
  • Joints/Muscles: We were advised to get fit before we left – i.e. too late now!
  • Ear/Nose: We could suffer from dizziness and light headedness.
  • Sleep:  This would be disturbed big time.  You can stop breathing for a short period of time at high altitude.
  • Eyes: There was the possibility of temporary retinal haemorrhages.
  • AMS i.e. Altitude Mountain Sickness: This has symptoms which include all sorts of nasty stuff but on the plus side the AA Programme included  enough easy days a slow assent. We were told to be honest with ourselves and if we felt bad we were to go down.  If we were to ignore the symptoms we could develop HACE (High Altitude Cerebral Oedema and HAPE (High Altitude PulmonaryOedema) both of which could result in death.  The mountain does claim several lives every year of those who are either unprepared, unhealthy, unfit, or just plain unlucky.

Suitably chastened and feeling rather apprehensive, we spent the rest of the day checking our gear and steeling ourselves for the task ahead.  Over the next week we were to face a total Trek distance of 120 kilometres with a net gain of 4,405 metres.  We got into the bus and bumped our way from the small hotel in Moshi to one of the 5 “gates” available to start your expedition – ours was Machame. We had to register while our gear was weighed.  No Porter was to carry more than 18 Kgs.  Nick and I felt incredibly smug because although all our worldly possessions for the next week were to be carried either in a duffle bag or rucksack they weighed a bit less than 15 Kgs.  We had to carry a day rucksack which would weigh fairly heavily on our shoulders over the next 7 days.

And we’re off….

When we eventually set out at 11.00 a.m. not only did we have 6 or 7 Guides with us but we would also have 45 Porters.  These guys were to carry our gear (and their own) for the next week without complaint and with unfailing determination skill and bravery.    When we thought we were the bees knees for negotiating a particularly tricky section which left us polaxed and doubled up with effort due to lack of oxygen, a porter would saunter past with 12 chairs on top of his head. It was hard not to be humbled when this occurred on an hourly basis.

I must confess that I felt fairly dreadful for the first hour. We were in equatorial rain forest.  I was sweating like a stuck pig and every breath seemed laboured as I struggled with the rucksack on my back.  I had done some preparation for this trip but this was definitely not Roe Valley Country Park, or Binevenagh Mountain terrain.  It was up, all up.  Our first day lasted 6 hours and we then had the joys of camping to contend with.  For years I have been telling my kids that I was jealous of them with their Duke of Ed Hikes but the reality of camp life is slightly different.  You have to contend with a reasonably compact tent that is usually on a sloping ground.  The only communal area was a big red tent with Adventure Alternative emblazoned on it.  We were to meet for our daily ritual of our much needed breakfast and dinner and then there were the long drop toilets….   Dear Reader, if you are of a delicate constitution then you may not wish to imagine the contrast between the loo that we soft westerners take for granted and a marvellous device which is called a toilet seats and that confronting us on the ground i.e. a long drop which had been used by several thousand people before you.  Fragrant and refined, it was not.

But we weren’t there on holiday, we weren’t there as tourists, we were there as travellers and trekkers.

But we weren’t there on holiday, we weren’t there as tourists, we were there as travellers and trekkers.  We were men (12) and women (7).  Slowly during the next week a  bunch of strangers got to know each other incredibly well and we were like brothers and sisters by the end of the trip.  A lot of the crack was gallows humour involving too many discussions about the state of one’s trip to the loo and discussions about what we were to miss most of our decadent luxuries that we all take for granted back home.

Home comforts….

Meanwhile we had a net gain of nearly 1,500 metres on day one as we moved from cultivated farm land through the Rain Forest into Montaine Forest.  There wasn’t much sleep on the first night despite the excellent mattresses.  When we eventually decided to leave the warmth of our tents at about 6.00 a.m. we were aware of the barren and inhospitable terrain.  As we progressed through the week every camp site was to become increasingly more desolate and refugee like.  Home comforts were few but the good humour of my sleeping partner and the other 17 could always be relied upon.  Nick and I knew each other reasonably well before we left but after sharing a tent for a week we both saw far too much of each other – in every sense of the word  – as we were about to discover the joys of the wet wipe wash for fundamental hygiene reasons.  For the first few days we were aware of lots of pervasive smells but eventually either due to extreme fatigue or the rarefied air all of the smells just blended into an anonymous olefactory melange.  I sprinkled Davidoff’s “Cool Water” over me, Nick, and most of the tent to further help matters.

Day two saw us trudge a further 9K on a 6 hour trek which was fairly steep then through forest into more open ground eventually on to a huge lava Plateau (as Kily is an extinct Volcano).

After lunch it was another two hours uphill on the exposed Plateau.  We would crawl gratefully into our tent which had miraculously  been hauled up the mountain and erected for us as if by magic.  At 6.00 p.m. our polite porter, Maxi,  summonsed  to us with a nervous smile as wide as Benone Beach to dinner.  We weren’t going to wait for a second invitation.   Up here Food was God, Food was Fuel for the engine.  With no food in the tank our engine simply could not cope with the daily work load.  Just a quick note for the excellent AA team, what about the use of a bell or a gong to give us the clarion call to eat, a novelty item that would have us reacting like Pavlov’s Dog?  If you sat in the middle of the tent you ended up dishing out the soup, then the pasta and sauce and the fruit for dinner.  If it was breakfast, you doled out toast, then porridge, then sausages and omelettes; we were certainly not going to starve to death.

I slowly got to know the guides who without prompting,  spoke incredibly highly of “Mr Gavin”, a man from a far-a-way land who had transformed their lives.  Our trip was providing employment for at least 50 local people and as a result 50 families would have food on their table and could afford basic necessities of life.

Gavin has offices and companies in 5 countries and runs a Charity called Moving Mountains.  This local guy from the North Coast of Antrim has done as much for literally hundreds of families in impoverished regions of the world as a medium sized Non Government Organisation and his efforts have been recognised by the Virgin Holiday Group who presented his company with an Award for the most ethical and eco friendly travel company at a glittering Award Ceremony in London last year.  How come his sterling efforts have not been recognised by our Muppets in Stormont?  How come his efforts have not even been recognised by his own local Council?   This man, not only gave us an opportunity to climb mountains, he moves mountains as well.

Day three saw us emerge into an even colder atmosphere.  We were at 3,840 metres and although we ended up at only 3,950 later on we ascended 700 metres and then came back down i.e. walk high, but sleep low.  This is absolutely vital for the acclimatisation process.

In fact the whole trip could be summed up by three A’s

  • Acclimatisation – Vital
  • Altitude (to be dealt with) and most importantly of all
  • Attitude

We were all to be tested to the very limits of our abilities both physically and mentally to achieve our dream but none of us, none of us, were to be found wanting in our attitude.

Kilimanjaro

 

Day 3’s terrain was high desert, but exposed to sun, rain and even snow.  We made it to the top of an escarpment at 4,500 metres which is within a bagels gowl of the height of Mount Blanc, Europe’s highest mountain.  We descended gratefully, if not gracefully, to our camp over steep loose rocks and in to the Barranco Valley.

We had to scramble up a vertical 500 metre high seemingly impenetrable cliff face.

Day 4 saw me attempting to wash most of my bits and pieces in a glacial stream.  It didn’t do much for my hygiene but it certainly woke me up.  Today we faced what for many of us was the toughest section of the whole trek.  We had to climb the legendary Barranco wall.  This wall will  be remembered by many of us as the biggest highlight of the entire trip, apart from the attempt on the summit itself.  We had to scramble up a vertical 500 metre high seemingly impenetrable cliff face.  At stages we were hanging on with both hands for dear life while trying hard not to look down.  As we congratulated ourselves for being so rough and tough, we were nonchalantly passed by the Porters carrying our mattresses and tents and duffle bags on top of their heads….  When we eventually got to the top the magnificent slab of rock known as Killimanjaro suddenly seemed  a lot closer.  We could see the snow line of the mountain as it came more prominently into view.  Even as I pen these few words, a frisson of apprehension runs up my neck.  This mountain towered over us physically and towered over us physiologically.  We could never beat this mountain – we merely prayed that it would allow us to temporarily step onto its upper reaches in a few days time.

Drug dealer’s convention….

Meanwhile some of our team were staring to experience headaches and nausea to various extents.  Nick and I had done a bit of research on how to cope with altitude and there was a possibility of using a drug called Diamox.  It didn’t work for everybody and had some side effects, but after having talked to a Canadian at our base hotel before we left we decided to go for it.  The medical opinion on it is mixed.  Some Doctors swear by it, some swear at it.  Most of the team ended up taking it so our every tea table resembled a Drug dealer’s convention – we were popping Diamox for the altitude, Maloran for Malaria, Cuprofen for muscle and joint ache and Panadol for headaches as well as throat lozenges.  Deals were being done “I’ll give you 250 ml of Diamox if you hit me with three Panadol” but it all worked out for everybody in the end.

One of the most important ways of coping with altitude is to drink plenty. As a society in general,we do not drink enough water.  As a long distance athlete, I am familiar with the concept of drinking before you feel thirsty.  It was difficult for some however and often we would end up at the next camp with quite a lot of water left in our three litre Camel Baks.  We therefore carried a lot of extra weight for no reason.  On the rest of day four we were surrounded in mist and cold fog and therefore didn’t get the full views of the glazier.

We then had a tricky enough descent in the Karrango Valley before crossing a stream and back up the other side.  The poor Porters had to fight their way down this hillside into the stream and then back up to make us our tea.  At this stage I realised I hadn’t eaten enough and was running on empty.  I was so pleased to reach our camp site and even though our tents were pitched at an alarming angle on the mountain side we crashed out and gratefully accepted our high carb meal which we all scoffed greedily.  Sleep was generally pretty tricky over 12,000 feet but we had another 7,000 feet to go if we wanted to boast that we had climbed Mount Killy.  The Guides were fantastic in their support.  They were constantly asking us if we were ok.  If you looked tired they would take your rucksack for you.  At lunch time we were given a mixture of bananas and cake and orange juice (which I secretly craved every day).  Conversations would be dominated by fantasies of food – at one stage I swore I could smell a cheese burger with onion and chips.

Together we all ate quietly at 5.30 p.m. with mounting apprehension as there was only 6 hours before what for many of us would be the biggest challenge of our lives

We spent four hours gaining consistent height over semi desert on a rocky path.  Again the mist limited our views but our aim that day was to get to base camp for an afternoon nap and then for the Last Supper.  Together we all ate quietly at 5.30 p.m. with mounting apprehension as there was only 6 hours before what for many of us would be the biggest challenge of our lives. We were to leave at midnight.  We were given our briefing by Cornell after being earlier reminded not to drink any coffee as this could lead to increased heart rate – and that was something we were all going to have in any event!

I had great fun with my Sanitas watch which takes your pulse and everybody had a go with it.  Everybody had a resting rate of about twice the normal and this was no surprise when there is only half the oxygen at Summit height that there is at sea level.

The Dreaded Call

The camp we were at was called Barafu (this was the Swahili word for Ice) and was incredibly exposed but our Porters had without doubt pitched our tents in the only half sheltered spot on the entire desolate landscape.  Surprisingly Nick and I were able to get a few hours kip before the dreaded call came at 11.00 p.m. from Maxi. We had laid our gear out earlier and with the aid of a head torch we put on our leggings, then our fleece lined trousers and water proofs, then thick socks and hiking boots (which I had managed to avoid up to now).  On top I had a Marino ice breaker 260 shirt from New Zealand, a Bear Gryllis thermal, a microfleece, another thicker fleece and then a water/wind proof coat.  On my head I had a bandana, a ballaclava and a fur hat.  Nick and I looked like extras on a forthcoming Michelin Man movie.

Kilimanjaro Sunrise

We assembled in the main tent and you could have cut the atmosphere with a knife. We had a rallying cry for the troops and Dave from Darlington reminded us that we were a team and that their club motto was that we would look out for each other and that no one, but no one, would be left behind.

We set off with our seven guides and our intrepid team of 19.  After one last stop at the infamous long drop, we were off!  I looked at my watch, it was just after midnight on St. Valentine’s Day so I gave Nick a peck on the cheek – at least it produced a nervous laugh.  Soon we were under way and hoping above hope to try to get our entire team to the summit.  This trip would not be a success unless we had achieved 19 out of 19.

One of John Lennon’s most famous songs, Imagine, contains the immortal line “Above us only sky”. Well, believe me, above us was only sky – but what a sky!  The firmament was festooned with sparking jewels so close we could nearly reach out and touch them.  The Plough was particularly distinctive. I looked in vain (again) for the Southern Cross – oh drat, I suppose I am going to have to revisit the Southern hemisphere in the future to finally nail it down.

It was a Bible Black night and the only light apart from the stars was the long snake like line of climbers in front of us with their head torches bobbing slowly about.  It was like a scene from Disney’s “ Fantasia”.  The lack of oxygen was kicking in, the cold was kicking in, nausea was kicking in – the only thing that wasn’t kicking in was our energy system!  Every step took a herculean effort.  We would stop for regular breaks where there was no argument from us – apart from the fact that we were being buffeted by a  driving and freezing wind.  The guides were just unbelievable, they did it mostly without head torches or water, or even gloves and without rucksacks so that if necessary they would carry ours.  One of them said that he had drunk enough water the day before to keep him hydrated!  The combination of altitude and lack of sleep and a hard week started to take its toll. Harriett started to throw up, two porters went instantly over her to rub her back and make encouraging and positive noises.  Chris looked like a ghost with blue lips, Josie was crying with the cold (the guide said it got to minus 20 centigrade) and the Porters tried to rub and blow her frozen fingers back to life.  Phil who was struck down with diarrhoea 12 hours previously and had nothing to eat since was throwing up on a regular basis.  Sylvia was merely looking like death warmed up.  Kirsty was starting to suffer with a massive migraine.  Jenny was reduced to a crawl but there was absolutely no way that we were going to leave a man – or woman – behind.   We continued step by step, inch by inch to crawl our way up this side of this mother of a mountain.

Every 5 minutes or so, the guide at the top of our snake would let out a chant and the guide at the back of the group would answer and those of us who had any energy left would also join in.  One of the reasons for the singing apart from raising our  morale was that this was the main way in which the guides actually kept in touch to see if there were any problems at the back of their group.  It was a safety thing as well as a method of encouraging the troops.

For many of us we were going into dark areas we had never been to before.  We dug deeper and put in more hard yards than we had ever experienced.  It was a huge physical effort but more so a mental one.  Where on earth do you ever slog yourself half to death during the hours of darkness?  At about 3.30 a.m. I was absolutely off my feet, I was convinced I was asleep.  Apparently people were talking to me and I wasn’t responding.  Every time I stopped I momentarily closed my eyes.  I was like a horse sleeping whilst standing up!  It’s a wonder I didn’t fall off the mountain.  I really thought I couldn’t take another step when thankfully we had a sit down break where I wolfed down a bar of Cadburys and suddenly felt like anew man.  I received the necessary sugar hit at exactly the right time and from then on I was ok.

They say that the Darkest Hour is the one before the dawn when all of the daily problems seem to rise up from the deep for us to wrestle with and yet, and yet, an hour later with day breaks first healing  rays of tepid sunshine, the problems don’t seem so bad after all.  Well when we were nearly out for the count we could see behind us the merest glimpse of a dawn and as Winston Churchill once famously declared, it wasn’t the end nor was it the end of the beginning, but it was the beginning of the end.

We were making progress.  The amount of head torches above us was now merely a trickle but we still couldn’t underestimate the task ahead.  There were wannabe climbers being led down the mountain who had failed to reach the top.  As Nick said “I don’t see them, I don’t see them!”.  We only wanted to concentrate on solutions, not problems.

Suddenly I was able to turn my head light off and then in front of my disbelieving eyes was the edge of the top of the Mountain.  We were going to make it!  Big burley Rob from the North East came up to me and gave me a manly hug.  I had been on the verge of tears about an hour before because I felt that we were going to summit as a team – and now we were about to.

We had made it to a place called Stella Point but we still weren’t at the mountain top.  We still had to drag our weary carcases over the highest point itself.  We saw the Kibo Crater (where believe it or not some lunatics paid a fortune to camp out overnight) and we saw the glazier, an impressive slab of slowly moving ice but some other climbers made it as far as Stella and then went back down – to me that was silly, that was like paying a fortune to see a play in the West End and leaving before the final scene.  It was like going to Old Trafford and leaving with 5 mins. to go with the score delicately poised.  It was like going to Wimbledon and leaving before the crucial fifth set.  It was madness, but there was no doubt that we weren’t thinking logically.  We had been told that if we started talking crap and appeared out of it we would be removed from the Mountain for our health’s sake – I had to be careful for obvious reasons!

We gazed with uncomprehending eyes as a jet plane flew beside us, not above us

We stumbled along the rim of the Crater of this Volcano gasping at the views – and also at the lack of oxygen.  We set out on one last lung bursting effort.  We gazed with uncomprehending eyes as a jet plane flew beside us, not above us. We saw the clouds beneath us.  We were in a Winter Wonderland  of snow and ice, a world of white with an equatorial sun blazing above us.  It was a contrast that will stay with all of us who were fortunate enough to turn our dreams in to reality on Valentine’s Day 2010.

Submitter….

Eventually we made it to the far side of the rim and we arrived at our final and much longed for destination – the actual summit.  We were now at the Peak, the Alpha of our Dreams, the Omega of our Destination.  We had our photographs taken, but every time you took a photo you had to take off two pairs of gloves and your fingers instantly froze, but as Dave had promised, we left no one behind. We set off as a team of 19.  We finished as a team of 19.  We counted them all out, and we counted them all back in.

Kilimanjaro Summit

When you reach the goal of a  Finish Line of an Ironman sometimes you can be back in your house within 5 mins. for a shower, some food and a lie down.  When you reach the top of a mountain however, your journey is not over, you have only reached the half way line and you have to negotiate your way down.

I had time to wake up Sharon at home where it was 4.30 a.m. Irish time and wished her a happy Valentine’s Day in a breathless phone call before beginning the long descent.  All of our thoughts  had been on getting to the top and precious little thought had been given  as to  how we were to get back down to base camp and to the real Finish Line.

By this stage I had run out of food and my so called insulated Camel Bak had frozen so I had nothing to drink either.  I was starving and parched, exhausted and far gone.  I was out of it.  In fact the Fred from Paris and I were the last off the mountain.  We made it back to Stella Point and then began the quad busting decent.  Quickly we had to stop and take off some of our multiple layers.  Under the blazing sun, waterproof trousers and fur hats seemed a trifle unnecessary. Fred went down the mountains using his slalom skiing technique with his two poles while the rest of us merely looked like Homer Simpson falling down a cliff.  Three of the longest hours of our lives followed before we crept back into our tents in Barrafo.  The Porters had heard we had a 100% success and they were genuinely delighted for us.  We found it hard to sleep in the tents with the heat but soon we revived after lunch and then we had another two hour trek down to Millennium Camp at a mere 3,800 metres above sea level.  This was the only part of the trip in which we finished ahead of schedule.  We met for an early meal and by this stage we were all shattered.  We were ready for home i.e. Moshi.  We had been dreaming of a shower for a week.  We didn’t want to hear the words “Wet ,Wipe, Wash” every again.  We had a beer which had miraculously been brought to 14,000 feet but the air was cold and all we wanted was off the mountain.

Time to get off the mountain….

We woke the next morning to frost on the ground.  We thanked the porters for all of their fantastic efforts and they performed a song and dance for us which will stay in our beleaguered and oxygen less addled memory banks for a long time.

If anybody ever tells you that going downhill is easy, then think again.  The first two hours were over stony wet ground (it had rained the day before) then we had another three hours of mud and steps.  At all stages of the trip we had to register our arrival in an official book.  One of the questions which we had to answer was our occupation.  By this stage, sanity had long since departed and if anyone ever asks why the occupation “Long Drop Attendant” featured in an official Tanzanian log book, then I will be pleading “Guilty –  but insane due to altitude”.

We were now again in Rain Forest were we saw thousands of ants crossing our path and some of the guys saw monkeys.  It just seemed endless but eventually I saw, like a mirage, a bus, I couldn’t believe it, the Trek was over!  Not only had we made it up, we had made it down as well, mission accomplished, Done. Dusted. Dirty!

We all hugged, we had been in the trenches, and tents – together.  We had toiled together and we had triumphed together, you couldn’t buy this sense of relief, this feeling of shared achievement.  Ambition  Satisfied.  Curiosity Quenched.

The porters however were the real heroes of this trip.  I was the only wimp at the pre event briefing to ask for a pillow and although they forgot it on day one some poor sod brought it 4 kilometres uphill on a 12 hour trek and then apologised that there was a bit of sweat on it.  I could have wept.

When we waited for our finish certificates and for the porters and guides to be given their wages and also for our tips to be distributed, I glanced at the first mirror I had seen in a week, I saw this haggard bedraggled guy with a white beard, Mama Mia!  I vowed to shave as soon as I reached the sanctity of my hotel room.  In another week I would have been like Santa Claus!  Meanwhile a woman approached me and asked if she could wash my feet which had been encased in sweaty socks and boots for 120 kilometres over the last week and which hadn’t seen the light of day for many, many hours.  I tried to gently explain to this woman that no money on earth could possibly compensate her for the horrors of bathing my feet, I felt a very strong sense of humility.

Eventually the bus took us on the hour’s journey back to our hotel and  I just hope the bus driver did not have a keen sense of smell.  Later on we all hired a bus and took over an Italian/Indian Restaurant, Nick treated us to Champagne and we had a riot on the bus on the way back with the Reggae on the sound system turned up to 11.  The joint was rocking and we then had arranged our own private DJ where we relived the perils, pitfalls and pleasures of our previous week.  We had lived to tell the tale, we had all made it to the top.  A group of wannabe climbers came over to us as they had heard that we had made it to the summit. We were introduced as “Summiteers”.  I quite like the sound of that word, Summiteer.

Thank you….

I wish to record my thanks to my fellow Summiteers, to the Darlington & Newcastle Brigade – to Kirsty and Ben, soon to be wed; to the quietly determined husband and wife team of John and Annette; to Rob and Dave, men of teak; to Charlie  from of the Darlington Quakers Running Club; and from the rest of the non Geordie speaking world, to the impossibly handsome and rugged Deputy Cultural Attache from the French Embassy in Namibia namely Fred from Paris; to Josie who hopes to join the Met, the bravest 21 year old I have ever met; to Harriett the ex England ‘A’ Scum half now ready to start her legal career in a week’s time; to Michelle the Public Health Inspector, originally from South Africa; to Phil (surely one of Ireland’s best dancers) and his wife to be Sylvia; to Jenny, the girl from Galway Bay; to Teresa, a Social worker from Chicago who works with Vietnam Vets; to Chris who also hails from Obama’s home city; to Joe a publican from Navan; but most of all to Nick whose unfailing humour helped to keep us all sane.  I am sure it couldn’t have been easy for him having to share a tent with an OCD sufferer but he coped, and we coped.  We have already decided that we are going to exchange presents of wet wipes every Christmas from now on!

Lastly, and most importantly of all we would all like to record our thanks to Chris and Gavin; to Castro and to all of our guides and porters who turned our dream into a reality.

And so I made the transition from Ironman to wannabe Summiteer and as far as I am concerned, I have now finished something even harder – I have been part of a great team and I am now proud to call myself a KillyMan.

Author – Peter Jack

Peter is a very accomplished all round human being, he is someone who is infections with his smile and positive attitude.  If you are lucky enough to be in his presence you will spend the entire time smiling from ear to ear.  Along with this he is or has been to mention but a few….

  • President of the Limavady Rotary Club 2010-2011
  • President and head of selectors of Triathlon Ireland 2010-2011
  • Former member and current chair of Triangle Triathlon Club
  • Commentator at European, home nations and Irish duathlon championships
  • Commentator for BBC at commonwealth games 2002 and the world triathlon championships
  • Trekked Kilimanjaro 2010
  • Trekked to Everest base camp 2011
  • Trekked Kinabalu Borneo 2012
  • Trekked Atlas Mountains Morocco 2013
  • Trekked Mt Elbrus Russia 2014
  • 14 time Ironman finisher
  • 40 marathons and counting
  • Olympic torch bearer June 2012
  • Indoor Ironman 2012
  • MC at world Police and Fire Games 2013
  • Future Kona Ironman competitor…………!

As you can see, Peter has accomplished an amazing amount and he is still going strong.  We are honored to have Peter contribute.

Adventure Alternative

Adventure Alternative is an independent travel company which was started in 1991 by adventurer and mountaineer Gavin Bate, and developed during many years of organising and running expeditions around the world. It is now an established company with an emphasis on responsible travel and a high level of knowledge and experience. They have run trips to the summit of Mount Everest to the middle of the Sahara Desert!

Check out their Kilimanjaro page here to experience an amazingly well organised trip like what Peter has just described above.

If you want to know anything about the climb, Peter or Adventure Alternative please do give us a shout, we’ll be happy to answer any questions you have.

For anyone thinking about Kilimanjaro do not under estimate how cold it can get, you will need a warm sleeping bag as temperatures can get to -20c.  The following bags would be perfect for Kilimanjaro….click here

So what did you think about this story, we feel it is one of the best descriptions of what it will actually be like for anyone hoping to get and idea about what it takes to climb Kilimanjaro.  Please comment below ……

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