The JT Kilimanjaro Climb 2014

27 Islanders are off to conquer the mighty Kilimanjaro

A group of Islanders have headed off for the ‘JT Kilimanjaro Climb’ in order to raise £50,000 which will go towards a new purpose-built centre to help those living within the autism spectrum in Jersey. 

The trekkers whose ages range from their early 20’s up to 70, have undertaken months of physical preparation to help to give them some experience and understanding of the challenges they will experience during climb into the thinning air as they make their way towards the 5,895-metre (19,336 ft) peak.   Follow the trekkers over their six day climb below.

 

Update 1  The Journey  6th February

 "After leaving the blustery winds in Jersey we arrived safely at the Ilboru Lodge, 2 hours from Kilimanjaro Airport, after some 28 hours travelling! 

We've got a policeman, 2 accountants, a handful of financiers, a restaurateur, 3 trustees & 3 members of staff from Autism Jersey and a member of the Jersey Criminal Justice team, so we're in good hands! Coupled with that, our Guide, Jackson, accompanied the UK celebrities, including Cheryl Cole, when they climbed Kili for Comic relief in 2009. The lodge is lovely and this afternoon has mainly been spent checking over the kit to ensure we're all well-equipped. Temperature hot but some heavy showers about. Everyone is well and in good spirits, but a bit tired so early night in the last bed we'll sleep in for a week!"


Update 2  We're off!  7th February
“Good news was that the rain held off for us. Cloudy but good for walking! Long drive (over 3 hours ) to register and for the porters to load up. What a commotion - we have 104 porters and 'helpers' accompanying us! 

Then had a challenging drive to the start (Lemosho Glades), passing fields with workers digging potatoes and carrots. Our walk through a track known as Chambers Route in the rain forest started at 1.15pm. Not much in the way of wildlife except a few Colobus monkeys. Some quite steep inclines and felt sorry for the porters carrying not only our bags but everything needed; food, pots & pans, chairs, gas, portable loos - you name it! 

Arrived at Big Tree camp at 5.40pm and moved into our tents to set up for the night (doesn't help being tall!). Quick wash, tea/coffee/cocoa and popcorn before supper at 7.30pm. Plenty of banter and all is well.”

 

Update 3  Shira Plateau  8th February

“Some exciting and pretty impressive thunder storms in the night, but all gathered for depart at 8.30am with our first challenge to leap over a rushing stream successfully overcome by all! Walk through plateau with volcanic rocks a plenty. The highlight was a trek (scramble) up to Shira Cathedral at 3,880m and some dramatic views of our destination getting closer!

We reached Shira 2 at 2pm in time for a hot lunch (food is amazing by the way). A welcome rest before another short acclimatisation trek and then back to camp (3,800) for 'washy washy', tea and popcorn. Another 3-course meal (always soup for starters!) before most took advantage of an early night (8pm) - apart from the hard-core card players. The first signs of the effects of altitude, but we have the most amazing and caring doctor (Angie).”

 

Update 4  Shira Plateau  9th February

“Some exciting and pretty impressive thunder storms in the night, but all gathered for depart at 8.30am with our first challenge to leap over a rushing stream successfully which was overcome by all!   Walk through plateau with volcanic rocks a plenty. The highlight was a trek (scramble) up to Shira Cathedral at 3,880m and some dramatic views of our destination getting closer!

We reached Shira 2 at 2pm in time for a hot lunch (food is amazing by the way). A welcome rest before another short acclimatisation trek and then back to camp (3,800) for 'washy washy', tea and popcorn. Another 3-course meal (always soup for starters!) before most took advantage of an early night (8pm) - apart from the hard-core card players. The first signs of the effects of altitude, but we have the most amazing and caring doctor (Angie).”

 

Update 5  Southern Flank  10th February

"It's been a mean day as the weather has not been good to us. In fact Jackson our guide has never seen anything like it since he started climbing the mountain! It started with  normal morning routine; wake up at 6.30am with coffee, bowl of water for washing and then breakfast at 7.30. However it was raining so didn't feel like moving from sleeping bag and packing up was a nightmare.

As we began the 8 hour trek the rain soon turned to snow and most of us were ill equipped - some without gloves.  It was freezing and then the wind blew up creating a blizzard for a time. We walked on up to Lava Tower at 4500m and then had a tricky steep descent down the Barranco Valley with firstly the snow making it slippery in places and then as we reached closer to our camp we walked in running water for what seemed like ages before reaching Barranco Wall most of us soaked.

Spare a thought for the Porters who had to carry all the gear over and then set up camp. Tents wet inside and so was everything not protected by a 100% waterproof. My boots, socks and coat are soaked through with little chance of any drying and I have had to tear up a magazine to soak up the moisture on our tent floor. So could say spirits a little dampened, but we dream of sunshine and drying off tomorrow!"

 

Update 6  Barranco and Karanga 11th February

"If yesterday was about snow and rain, today was about rock climbing. It was a dry day - hurrah and such a relief!  We started our 2 hour really steep climb/clamber at 8am to Barranco Wall. Clinging to the rock as we went along narrow ledges wasn't for the faint-hearted or those with vertigo - no health and safety here!!  Stepping up from boulder to boulder was easier for those with longer legs, but the guides were there to help and pull arms to hoist people up - such fantastic guys.  

Unfortunately no views at Barranco Wall (4,170m) because of the mist/cloud, but all made it!  We then continued across ridges and valleys to Karanga Camp at 3,900m. Time for a quick snooze before tea and popcorn and then supper.  So much food and if we don't eat, the doctor is on the case!  Everyone in higher spirits and doing well with the altitude.  Tomorrow will be a tough trek due to the altitude - up to 4,600m!  Onwards and upwards and hopefully a good night's sleep.

 

Update 7  Barafu Ridge Camp  12th February

"Good news that the whole team made it to the Barafu Ridge Camp at 4,600m. We had a steep hike out of Karanga Camp and then trekked upwards and slowly polé, polé for 4 hours.

Had hot lunch on arrival and then a rest before supper at 6.15pm - more carbs! Jackson gave our briefing for the summit this evening - we're being woken up at 11pm, porridge at 11.30pm and then we're off to the summit at midnight! It will be tough but we're up for it! Will be walking for around 12-15 hours so not sure when next update will be!"

 

Update 8 - 13th Feb

"Summit Day. How do I begin to describe today? The Itex is a walk in park in comparison! I don't think we anticipated the gradient that was before us!  But then we went from 4,600m to Stella Point at 5,750m and some of us went on to reach the Summit at 5,895m.

All but two commenced the climb at midnight complete with head torches and we saw the snake of lights of other parties ahead of us. We walked in the dark until sunrise at 6.30am with the guides trying to keep spirits high by singing and chanting.  It was freezing, particularly on the exposed ridges, but it was dry and a bit overcast - although we could see the moon at times. Not sure what the temperature was but our camel backs of water froze. We firstly walked over boulders to get out of the camp, then meandered up the scree slopes which very soon were covered in snow.

The ascent to Stella Point seemed to go on for ever and at a snail's pace. A couple of the party were sick with the altitude but all made it to Stella Point (the crater rim), a cup of tea and photo opportunity. It was at least another hour and a half to Kili summit but worth it. The glaciers and views were amazing.  More pics and then the most daunting descent you could ever imagine! Basically trying to walk down steep declines of ice! I have to say that I chose to sit down and slide down. And then when I was heading 'off piste' a very kind guide helped me and others down.

All arrived back safely, but exhausted and de-hydrated, for a short rest and brunch, before putting the walking boots on again for a further descent to Millennium Camp. Everyone pretty shattered and hats off to the guides who were a great support. Early night for all!"

 

Update 9 - 14th Feb - Descent to Mweka Gate and back to the lodge
“Re-reading last night's update, sounded a bit flat considering the majority of us had made it to the top of Africa! Truth be known, we were probably too exhausted to appreciate what we had achieved! I could liken it to around 8 hours' walking of the toughest parts of the north coast in freezing conditions!  A fantastic effort from everyone.

 This morning, after our wake-up call at 6.30pm and breakfast, our spirits were lifted and a few tears shed when all the guides and porters congregated to receive their gratuities and sing us some Tanzanian songs. They are so proud of their country.

 After breakfast we donned our back packs for the last time and walked down countless steps (5 hour’s worth) mostly through the rain forest to Mweka Gate and our final sign out of the Kilimanjaro National Park.

 A well-deserved beer and then we boarded the coach for a 2hour drive to our lodge. And then the most welcome shower and hair wash you could ever imagine before supper and the presentation of our certificates.

 A few of the guides joined us and there were celebrations all round as we shared stories and memorable moments.  A few more beers to round off a very special evening and 8 days of team camaraderie, hard graft, tears, laughter and fun. What a great experience, never to be forgotten. “

Congratulations to all those who took part. For more information on the great work Autism Jersey does or to make a donation visit www.autismjersey.org


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