Epic Kilimanjaro Climb for Cambs College RDA

Congratulations and a massive thank you to our wonderful volunteer, Cathie Stableford, who made it all the way to the top of Mount Kilimanjaro in aid of Cambs College RDA! Here is her report on her amazing trip...

The Kili Girls 2018 Challenge - WE DID IT!!!!

"After a year of planning, four intrepid local friends, Cathie, Chris, Franny (all from Cottenham) and Lenja (from Cambridge) made it to the top of Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania. Walking up the tallest freestanding mountain in the world and highest peak in Africa presented us with a few challenges and an unforgettable experience that we would like to share a little with you.
The journey took us through the different climatic zones of the region; including lush, wet rainforest jungle, heath and moorland zones, alpine desert and the steep, exposed arctic summit region.  Even though we had chosen the 8 day Lemosho route that allowed for acclimatization, altitude was a major challenge and something that we all had to overcome as we approached the higher stages of the trek.

Camp life was an experience; bed tea at 6 am, a bowl of washing water (washy, washy), all meals provided, taking down and packing up the 2 man tents and a portable loo - our amazing porters would rush on past us to the next destination, carrying vast amounts on their heads and backs.  Always cheerful and greeting us with Jambo (hello) or Pole Pole (slowly slowly), as they passed.  The guides walked with us and we had a ratio of 1 guide per 2 trekkers.

Our party of 16 was cared for by a team of 64 amazing porters and guides and it was humbling to reach one of the earth’s most iconic mountains supported by such kindness from those who in our terms have so little.  We had our own mess tent.  Food was plentiful and nutritious for walking; porridge, eggs, bacon, toast and fruit for breakfast, excellent packed lunches and 3 course dinners, including the local dish, plantain stew on our last evening.  Always lots of soup.  We had to drink at least 3 litres of fluid a day to avoid dehydration and we became accustomed to spotting good rocks and shrubs to hide behind on our rest breaks!  We started  walking most days at around 8.30 am and finished mid afternoon.  Sleep was sometimes scarce because of altitude but our tents were cozy.
On summit night, we set off at midnight, it was really tough due to the altitude but our guides pulled us through and we sat at dawn to watch the sun rise over the curvature of the earth.  We made it to Stella Point and after sweet tea, set off on the final push from there, along the crater rim to the highest point, Uhuru Peak, 5,895 metres.   The temperature was around – 10 degrees C but there was only 50% oxygen so it was difficult to breathe.
Photos were taken, hugs and tears shared and we made our rapid descent down the scree – it was more of a scree jog and quite exhilarating.  After lunch and a rest at base camp, we descended further to our final camp and after breakfast, were treated to a brilliant singing celebration by our porters and guides. This was also our chance to say thank you and we could donate kit and give tips.   More hugs and tears.
Our last day took us quickly down towards the warmth of the rainforest and we were treated to lots of animal hoots and bird song, something that we hadn’t heard for a while.  As we signed out from Kilimanjaro National Park for the final time, we were able to reflect on our journey of a lifetime and of those days spent amongst companions with whom we will share everlasting memories.
We self funded our adventure and raised money for our chosen charities.  Cathie – Cambs College RDA Group (Riding for the Disabled), Chris – Alzheimer’s Society, Franny – MPS Society (Mucopolysaccharidosis), Lenja – Pinpoint Cambridge.  Thanks to the support and encouragement of so many of our friends and families we were able to raise significant donations, so would like to thank you all so much for such generosity.  We are very touched that your donations are still coming in.
Climbing Kili was an experience that isn’t easy; at times it was uncomfortable and rather breathless but also rewarding in more ways than we could have imagined possible." 

To make a secure donation via BT MyDonate, please click here or on the black 'BT MyDonate' logo on the left hand side of this page. Cash donations can also be made in person during RDA sessions on a Thursday evening. Thank you!