Kilimanjaro Climb Update and Story

Posted on September 21, 2017 · Posted in Uncategorized

Kilimanjaro Climb Update and Story

The Foundation would like to thank Mr. Butterworth for his courage and support. We would also like to congratulate him on a successful climb of Kilimanjaro. Please see his story below:

My journey started with a flight from Bermuda to the UK, where I met with my climbing partner (Sean). We then flew from London Heathrow to Amsterdam, then Amsterdam to Kilimanjaro International Airport, Tanzania. During our travels, we received an email from the tour company, informing us that our route had changed! Due to unfortunate weather a bride that connected the main roads to the Lemosho route had been damaged and wouldn’t be repaired by the time we got there. The company had therefore changed our route to the Machame route. The actual climb on this route is a day shorter, a lot steeper and has a greater chance of causing altitude sickness, but the tour company informed us we would use this extra day to acclimatise at base camp before heading out to the summit!

We arrived at Kilimanjaro international, where the visa process is extremely inefficient and frustrating – almost like climbing a mountain in itself! After an hour or so, we were through customs and on our airport transfer to our hotel. Bristol Cottages in Moshi. A couple of things stick in mind about that airport transfer. We were stopped – randomly – by an armed police officer. The driver spoke to the police officer in Swahili, so we didn’t know what was happening. I found out later that Tanzania had been having problems with an Islamic terrorist group! But things had calmed down by the time we got there. The second thing that sticks is that speed bumps mean nothing in Tanzania, regardless of how big they are!

When we got to our hotel, we were both extremely tired, hungry and ready for a good sleep. We were checked in, got a quick bite to eat and went to sleep.

We’d arranged our arrival so we had a day relaxing in the hotel the day before we set off on our climb, so the next day, we woke late (missing breakfast completely!). We were told that afternoon to meet in the restaurant at 7pm for a briefing and meeting of the people we would be climbing with. When we got there, we met our guide, Israel. Israel was a quiet no nonsense kind of guy who introduced himself and one of the other guides who’s name was so complicated to say that we were told to just call him `G-Man`.

After discussing the route, the protocols and the weather forecasts, we were introduced to each other. We had a full group of twelve people. John Paul, Graham, Sean, Abbie, Vanessa, Dave, Jamie, Emily, Marie, Ramiro, Irene and myself. We all had a mixed amount of climbing experience with Ramiro being the more seasoned climber. Marie had attempted Kilimanjaro before and failed to reach the summit, so went back to conquer it.
We were all sent to bed early because we were setting off the next morning!

We got to the gate and had to wait to be signed in. We sat around here for about an hour while the porters unloaded our equipment.

After we finally got to enter the national park, we started through rainforest.

This terrain started off quite steep, and we had to climb a lot of man-made stairs, making this start to the journey really difficult on the legs. The rain didn’t help. Because it was so hot at the bottom of the mountain, and humid in the rain forest, it made it difficult to wear the rain proof clothes and not over heat. It was inevitable that we were going to get some of our equipment wet. Getting your equipment wet is one of the worst things when climbing, because the higher you get, the harder it is to dry! And with a limited amount of clothing, it could make for an uncomfortable 10 days! After a good 5 hours hiking, we finally made it the first camp. Machame Camp.

I forget what we ate for dinner that day, but we all scrambled to our tents as night fell and tried to have a good sleep. I struggled to sleep that night because of the hard floor! It’s also very noisy in camp, but you soon get used to it. Whilst having dinner, we had a briefing with Israel about our next day. He said tomorrow would be harder than and that if you called today an 8, tomorrow is a 16 in terms of effort. Great!
The next day we set off, and from the beginning to the end, the climb was like the terrain in the following picture

Here’s John Luke in the blue and Ramiro in the red.

This was an extremely tough day, but little did I know what was in store on this route!!
Anyway, after the 5-6 hours climbing this terrain, we arrived in Shira 2 camp. When we got there, there was an amazing bunch of guys from our group who welcomed us to camp with a show. The original video is 1.5GB in size, and I’ll see if I can get you a download for it. I’ll send a shorter video following this email. This really brought us around and woke us up!

Here I am at Shira 2

This is Mount Meru, the baby brother to Kilimanjaro but the view of it from Kilimanjaro was amazing at sunset.
The next day we were heading to Barranco. During this climb, we were going to reach a camp called Lava Tower. This camp was the same height as base camp and we were going to have lunch there then continue down the mountain. This would help with acclimatisation so that we didn’t suffer with altitude sickness later on. This days climb was up and down valleys that really took a toll on the legs, was extremely tiring and I began to suffer altitude sickness at Lava Tower. Thankfully we were heading back down straight after lunch.

As you can see above, I’m not looking my best! I felt sick and had a banging headache here, but at least I knew it would go away soon. After lunch we headed for Barranco camp. Called Barranco camp because there’s a wall called Barranco that we had to scale the next day.

Here is the summit at night from Barranco

The next day we were heading for Karanga camp, which is the camp just before base camp. We were getting good views of the summit now. But the biggest obstacle was the Barranco wall. A sheer cliff that we had to scale.

And well above the clouds.We arrived at Karanga later that day.

The following day, we set off to Barafu. This was the base camp and where we would set off for the summit. This is around the same altitude as Lava Camp, and I was worried that I’d get sick again. If that happened here, then it’s likely I wouldn’t be allowed to continue upwards, as it can be extremely dangerous.

Here I am at Barafu, I wasn’t sick! But you can definitely feel the difference at this height. It’s harder to move, you have to put more effort in to move your legs and you quickly get out of breath from the tiniest of things!

Today was very different. We arrived at Barafu early because we were setting off for the summit at midnight, so we needed to sleep early. This was a problem for us all, and made the summit night a lot more difficult!
Our summit push would take us up the scree where we would emerge at Stella Point. This is roughly an hour away from the highest point. I was pretty emotional here. I’d managed to climb again, I’d had very little to eat or drink, I was exhausted and desperately missing home, but this was moment I will never forget. We just arrived on Stella Point as the sun came up. Amazing!

So we had an hour to push on and we’d make it. Our guides checked us over a few times to make sure we were OK then we set off. As you approach the summit, to the left, you can see one of the glaciers. It’s sad that these are eroding away at a faster rate than they used to and it’s estimated that these will be gone in the near future.

You can see me at the back in the green coat to the left of the picture. And then we made it!

Although the climb isn’t finished until you get back down. Unfortunately, I didn’t take as many photos of the climb back down. Here is the team at the first camp we stopped at on the way back down. We all got really close during that climb and I have to give credit to the porters and guides that helped us up and down that mountain. We wouldn’t have been able to do it without them. They are truly superhuman on that mountain.

Climbing Kilimanjaro for a second time has been an amazing experience, even harder than last time, and the most difficult climb yet. I’ve made friends, laughed, cried, struggled and wished I was on Horseshoe more than a few times! I’ve achieved something for myself that I never thought I would but the proudest part of the whole climb has been to raise money for BMHF. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to raise the funds for you.

All the best