This story begins when the idea was floated to help raise money for a Seeing is Believing  SCB’s CSR…  Before preparing to climb, the team fund raised and psyched up and from 40 volunteers a final 15 ultimately went… this is part of the story.

Prep 1: Rock Climbing at Lukenya

8 of the climbing team went to Lukenya 2 weekends before Kilimanjaro.  Innocent lambs to the slaughter.  Most of us were of the opinion that we would be spending the day walking. . . shock NO! we were to be climbing rocks, all geared up with ropes and helmets.  Going up was tough, or so we thought. Then we saw the coming down part of it! Imagine dangling many meters off the ground on a rope, the only way out is down and there is nothing but gravity to keep you moving. . . This was a mind over matter training, just so we could confront ourselves and see whether we are determined, and we were.  All height phobic and only-ever-seen-this-in-a-movie shocked lot of us.

This whetted out appetites for more, and also brought out the aspect of positive peer pressure.

Prep 2: Climbing Mt. Kenya

So we’d thought that the rock climbing was something?  It was nothing really.  Climbing Mt. Kenya involved first going to Naro Moru for a sleep over, in tents – very cold indeed; waking early and setting off on what would end up being about 6 hours of hiking. Mt. Kenya is steep, slippery and largely unmarked so we had to keep together – never walk alone – and we had to concentrate so we wouldn’t fall.  We fell many times over J…. For those of us that had never been up a mountain, we got a taste of altitude.  It was funny how as we walked we’d be all hot and decide that we need a break, then as soon as we stopped we got cold and got the urge to keep moving so as to get warm again.  We were now beginning to understand the concept of COLD and the meaning of layering up (well sort of)…

No more Prep: Climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro

When we got back from Mt. Kenya, we were tired, achy and sore.  We were also a little scared because we had realized that mountaineering was no walk in the park… but then we were in high spirits because it was FINALLY here, the climb we’d been preparing for.  All the weeks of fundraising, renewing passports 2 days to leaving, drinking water, getting yellow fever shots – had come to this; Friday 12th August 2011 we were leaving for Mt. Kilimanjaro. After a little pomp and circumstance of being flagged off by the likes of Peter Churchman (Head GSSC Africa) and the visiting bosses from Corporate Affairs – Group level – and taking pictures with the 100 Years flag, we were off. . .

The journey was definitely more than a thousand miles.  parts of it felt like being on the cast of The Lord of The Rings… when Sam and Frodo were walking endlessly though a desert that just kept stretching on without an end in sight…

Climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro is the most challenging, demanding, dirty (imagine not showering for 5 days) enervating task any of us had ever taken on.  It was very rewarding all the same because we went, we saw and we conquered!  What a thrill.  What an experience of a lifetime!

What does it take to become a mountaineer?

A VERY STRONG WILL. THE ABILITY TO KEEP GOING ESPECIALLY WHEN YOU FEEL YOU SIMPLY CAN NOT.  A HIGH THRESHOLD FOR DIRT 🙂. A SENSE OF HUMOUR.  SUPERIOR BOOTS.  DRINKING LOTS OF WATER.

Words to take to heart: DAWA YA MLIMA NI MAJI NA POLE POLE

I know if I hadn’t been climbing a mountain for those 5 days, I probably would have been at my desk working and there would have been nothing super significant to remember years later, but I did do something different, I stepped away from my desk and Climbed a MT. Kilimanjaro… how differently I remember those 5 days!

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