I started leading expeditions on Kilimanjaro 12 years ago and my last climb marked the start of Camps International. It was whilst on expedition that I formed the early ideas for Camps and so its a fitting place to return to for our first, ‘not for profit’ expedition. I decided to invite a group of friends to join me on the mountain for an 8 day ascent of the Lemosho route. Everyone agreed to pay their cost, the company made no profit and we all committed to raising money for the Camps Foundation. It was also an opportunity to fly the flag for our new specialist expedition brand RJ Seven Expeditions. It was an incredible climb with an extraordinary group of people. We endured torrential rain, wet gear, mud, sleet, snow and all the usual side effects of trekking at extreme altitude. Everyone gave their all and the money is still rolling in for our projects across the globe and thank you so much to everyone who supported us. On the basis that pictures speak louder than words, here are some off the short list. Clean bags……the last time they will ever be clean…or dry. I told the guys it was unlikely we would need to break out the waterproofs too often but they went on the minute we stepped out of the vehicles and barely came off. Day one and we have two hours added to the start as the trucks are stopped by the mud. Andy Guy pictured breaking in his boots! The clouds roll in to Shira Camp 1 but our gear was excellent and the flags on the mess tent let the other climbers know who they should have travelled with. It wasn’t until day 3 that we get our first glimpse of the summit and with a break in the clouds a chance to dry kit. The team assembled and ready to start the walk to Shira Plateau. Just when you think the weather is on your side…..Camp 3 and time to test equipment again. Wouldn’t be worth doing if it wasn’t challenging. Sometimes its worth going through a little pain to wake up to a morning like this with views across to Mt Meru. The first really tough physical day is the long haul via Lava Tower to Barranco Valley and the conditions didn’t fail to disappoint! Without doubt the Barranco Valley is one of the most stunning locations on the mountain with incredible views of the summit and Tanzania laid out below. No time for breakfast on the Barranco wall day and we are the first team out of camp to scale the feature up onto the south circuit. You need at least 4 litres per day and sometimes you have to work at it. Looks close enough to touch but 2 more days hard graft yet to come. From Karanga Valley we walked what was by now an easy 5 hour day to Barafu Ridge which translates as ‘Ice’ in Swahili. You understand why when you emerge from your tent just before midnight to clear cold skies and a rising orange moon. Its impossible to describe clearly how tough the 8 hour slog to the summit is but its an appropriately dramatic end to 7 days of hard trekking. The team stepped in time one behind the other and set themselves the task of reaching Stellar point by dawn. Its an eery experience walking in silence for hours through the pitch black, save for the encouraging whoops from the African porters and gentle encouragement from your team mates. Its also deeply rewarding when you get to the top.
I managed a smile for the camera as we emerged onto the crater rim at Stellar point with a rising sun on our backs. Lots of ‘man hugs’ at the top. Filip fought with terrible migraines every day and at times walked nearly blind for hours…..a special moment.
Clockwise from left: åÊSebastian, David, Andy, Karen, Hughesy, Martin, Jim, Me (Stu), Filip, Jules and Adam.
Would I do it again?
Looking back through the images…..with these guys?