We’ve walked, climbed, hiked and even crawled, but we all got to the top. Now all we have to do is get off this mountain. but level for the most part. It is a big struggle as we have gained considerable altitude in the last couple of days and are struggling to breathe. Apparently, the higher you go, the less oxygen is available. Thankfully, we arrive at camp in good time and have a hot lunch, instead of our usual cold packed lunch. Play cards again, read a book and then catch up on my sleep before dinner. This had better get easier. Day IV: AMS Strikes! Shortest trek yet; only four hours to our new campsite. We have a three-hour acclimatisation session, which involves us climbing to the top of Lent hill, a very steep and rocky terrain, to get our bodies used to the altitude. The view is amazing, great for pictures! After we descend, three members of the team start to exhibit symptoms of AMS and are promptly treated by the guide. I pray they get better and we all make it to the top. Day V: Moir Camp aka Leaning Moir Camp Every night between 8pm and 12pm I sleep for two hours, then between 4am and 6am, I snooze for another two. My sleep pattern is really messed up. The higher we go, the harder it is to get out of bed. It is FREEZING and our tents are covered in ice. The ascent to the Moir Camp is the steepest yet and involves technical climbing as well as trekking. The weather doesn’t help: hot, then cold, rain and then a hailstorm. Sigh. We’ve gained so much altitude we are literally walking through the clouds. AMAZING! This camp is awkward. It is set on a slope so everything is tipped at an odd angle. Our sleeping bags keep sliding down, ending up at the opposite end of our tents. The three members of the team who were suffering from AMS have been healed, thank God!!! Day VI: Exhausted It is 3.20am. The heavens have opened and it’s raining cats and
dogs. The porters have dug trenches to prevent flooding in our tents. But God is amazing; I haven’t so much as sneezed, not once! I can’t sleep. So many things I take for granted; a warm bed, hot showers, a roof over my head. I have a renewed sensitivity to the plight of the homeless and an idea of how to help them. Watch this space. The most challenging part of the expedition is coming up and is, statistically, when AMS strikes most climbers. Only 30% of people who attempt to climb Kili make it to the top; some turn back, others die…but I know the God who has brought me this far will not leave me now. He is more than able. It’s 6.20am and the rain has FINALLY stopped. I can hear people exclaiming loudly. I’m going out to find out what’s happening. Kilimanjaro is covered in thick snow! How can it rain and snow at the same time? According to the guides, the snow is a good thing because it makes it warmer. I’m not going to try and understand this twisted logic. It took a strenuous 4.5 hours trek to get to our new camp. I’ve got no energy left. I’m going to bed. Day VII- Third Cave Camp I’m so excited! One more night and we’ll be at the summit. The porters and guides have been a great support team, constantly encouraging and helping us. In our excitement, we made it to camp in record time. We’re splitting into two teams for the ascent to the summit. I volunteered to be in the first group; I’m itching to get this over with. We’ve been held up by snow and an electrical storm. There’s a great chance of being struck by lightning as we’re close to the clouds so it’s unsafe for us to summit. I pray the storm settles.
My prayers intensify when a guy in front of me falls and starts rolling downhill. He has scarce recovered when I too slip.
Below: Dembi shows off her certificate as proof of her successful climb. PHOTOS BY SIMON OSWALD
to two summit points. We’ve walked, climbed, hiked and even crawled, but we all got to the top, and boy does it feel AMAZING! Now all we have to do is get off this mountain. Day IX: Down We Come! I’ve just had my last “washywashy” and I’m feeling a little nostalgic. The trip really is over. I’m so grateful for Betwell, the porter who woke me up everyday of this trip. He encouraged me daily and I feel like God used him to spur me on. God bless him! We’re all packed up and ready to descend. We take loads of pictures, sing the Kilimanjaro Song and present our 74-man support team with tokens of thanks. For what will be the last time, I’m about to pick up my hiking sticks, strap on my backpack and embark on the five-hour descent off Kili. We’re at the Park!!! I’m off to say my final goodbyes to the guides and porters and board the bus to the hotel. Come on guys, we need to get moving. I’m in desperate need a hot shower!
Day VIII: Hello Summit!!! It’s 2.45am and everything is covered in snow. The temperature has dropped to minus twenty degrees. I’m wearing four layers of clothes, a massive duvet jacket, three pairs of socks, two pairs of thick gloves, hand and foot warmers, a scarf around my face and a balaclava…I’m ready to summit. WE’VE DONE IT!!! THANK YOU LORD!!!! Mount Kilimanjaro is the highest freestanding mountain in the world and it is also the highest point in Africa. It has three summit points Gilman’s, Stella’s and Uhuru Peak, which is the highest. 18 of us, out of the 20, make it to all three summit points, while the other two make it 29