The Chameleon's African adventure

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In October this year, myself and David Winter from SUSE UK went to Tanzania to climb the world’s highest free standing mountain, Mount Kilimanjaro. We were raising money for two charities, 1) The British Red Cross London Fire Appeal and 2) Alzheimer’s Society.

In order to give ourselves the best possible chance of success, we had signed up with an organised group and so attempted the climb with 26 other individuals. Summit night itself was pretty tough: a seven hour climb starting at midnight, a few minutes to “enjoy” the views followed by a rapid descent to get back to a more breathable atmosphere.

Since returning, many people have asked what I learnt from the adventure. Here, in no particular order, are some thoughts:

  • If only I’d been in the Scouts! “Be prepared” is a sound piece of advice. For instance, failure to plan for all your drinking water freezing during the most difficult part of the climb is, in hindsight, fairly dumb!
  • Living on a mountain for six days is, let’s say, “an experience”. Don’t do it if you like home comforts such as hot water or a functioning toilet.
  • Maize porridge is not as good as the real thing. By a long way.
  • The spirit, good humour and all round joie de vivre of the Africans put us whinging rich westerners to shame.
  • Complete strangers can form strong bonds and exhibit great teamwork very quickly provided they all have the right attitude. That all 28 got to the summit is no small part due to the team ethic that was quickly established.
  • Kilimanjaro is quite high. Probably a bit higher than I realised when I set out.

 

Here we are with the SUSE Chameleon at Barafu Camp at an elevation of 4,673m. The summit is at 5,895m. If you would like to donate, you can still do so here:

https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/jeff-kirkpatrick2

https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/david-winter5

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jkirkpatrick
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