Hastings Runners Duo Climb Mount Kilimanjaro
On the 6th October Terry Kitson, and fellow running partner Tim Jury, undertook the phenomenal challenge of climbing Mount Kilimanjaro. Kilimanjaro is the tallest mountain on the African continent and one of the biggest challenges is the altitude. No one knows how they will react to the high altitude levels but Terry and Tim coped amazingly well and achieved their challenge of reaching the summit.
Terry and Tim funded the challenge themselves meaning that every penny they raised came directly to us. They raised an utterly outstanding £2904.50 for us at Epilepsy Lifestyle and even Barnaby Bear, from St Mary’s School in Bexhill, went along for the journey and kept a little diary. Terry got involved with Epilepsy Lifestyle through his grandson Jude. Jude suffers from epilepsy and was granted a night time monitor back when the charity first set up. After seeing the difference it made to Jude’s life his Mum Fiona joined the charity as a trustee last year and Terry and his wife Irene have been firm supporters along the way.
But how better to hear about this adventure than in the words of Terry himself:
‘Last February on one of those cold damp winter days, thinking about being 65 this year, I thought
‘I need a challenge for this year’. Looking at a company called Action Challenge, here was a picture of Kilimanjaro on their front cover, from there a plan started to form. Although not a technical climb, it’s more of a long trek, at altitude. Wanting to share the idea with fellow Hastings Runners, I put a post out on Facebook, inviting people to join me, for an informal briefing evening in London. Tim expressed an interest, so after spending a pleasant day in London, Irene and I meet Tim at the appointed time, from then we were hooked, so we signed up. I thought this would be an ideal opportunity to use this challenge, to raise money for Epilepsy Lifestyle, as our grandson suffers from this condition. After seeking advice from Hastings Runner’s member Paul Cooper, on mountain trekking and taking up the kind offer of loan of some kit, we both felt a little more prepared for what lay ahead.
As we both had reasonable levels of fitness, but not wanting to be over confident, we thought we would try to build strength up in our legs for the climbing long periods, by revisiting the East Hill Steps in Hastings. We were delighted to be joined by so many Hastings Runner’s for those Mondays evenings of reps up and down, I think on one day we managed 22. As the date drew nearer we had to have a variety of jabs, obtain visa’s, and obtain a prescription of a drug called Diamox, which helps offset the effects of Altitude Sickness.
October 6th saw us at Heathrow waiting for our flight to Doha, then onward flight to Kilimanjaro Airport. Arriving the following afternoon, we had a four hour mini bus transfer to our hotel for the night, prior to entrance into the National Park the next day. The following morning after a kit check and breakfast, we met our guides and porters, who were going to look after us. We left the hotel and signed ourselves into Nalemoru Gate, the start of the Rongai route. Day One We were starting at a height of just under 2000 metres. We had a short day of four hours trekking climbing up past farm land and through forest to our first camp at 2660 metres.
Day Two: As we had a full day of trekking, we were called at 6.30, with breakfast at 7.00 and off at 7.30 climbing up to 3679mts. We all by now had got into the Kilimanjaro Walk, which is a very gentle stride, to control your breathing. Anything more than this pace is just not possible. After six hours and a lunch stop, we were greeted at camp by our porters, who stormed ahead of us each day, to set up camp for our arrival. The weather at this height was warm, when the sun was out, but dropped like a stone once the sun had set. That night we wrapped up in warm gear, as frost had formed on our tents very early.
Day Three/Four: Again an early start and a longish day as we move up too Mawenzi Tarn camp at 4440 metres, where we spent two nights. These were acclimatisation days with some training walks on scree, at a height of almost 5000 metres.
Day Five/Six Summit Day! We broke camp early and headed across the ‘moon like’ landscape of the Mawenzi Saddle to reach our high camp of Kibo at 4700 metres. We had a lazy afternoon and an early dinner, with a briefing about our summit attempt at 23.30 that night. We turned in early and tried to sleep, not much chance of that! We had prepared our clothing for the night climb, which was almost everything we could put on. We were warned to expect temperatures of around -7c and winds of 20/30mph. We started off at the 11.30pm with our head torches offering some light. We had guides leading us, one guide at the rear and others at the side. We were given high visibility armbands to wear and slowly made our way up the steep scree slope, stopping about every hour to recover. After roughly five hours we climbed up over the edge of the crater rim, at Gillman’s Point, 5681metres, where the guides produced flasks of cinnamon tea to refresh us. We then started our final traverse to the summit, another 1.5 hours trek, during this time we saw the glorious sunrise. We finally made Uhuru Peak, at the height of 5895 metres. At one stage I didn’t think I was going to make it but the guides encouraged and helped when needed. A quick photo opportunity on top, then turn round and make your way down, arriving back at camp, around midday. Then two hours rest, a light lunch and then pack up and make our way six miles downwards to Horombo Camp at 3700metres.
Day Seven: After a very good nights sleep, feeling a lot better to be lower down, the Guides and Porters put on a short celebration to congratulate us on our climb and of course return the compliment to thank them for their services. Without them we were not have achieved our goal. We then, had a 13 mile trek to exit the park, at Marangu Gate. Our ever thoughtful hosts even provided a bottle of cool Kilimanjaro Lager to refresh us. A short mini bus ride to our hotel for the night, and the first shower for seven days, followed by dinner. Any thoughts of a late night, were soon gone as soft beds were calling us.
Day Eight Farewells to some of the group, who were off to enjoy a beach holiday. We spent a few hours in the local town visiting a craft market before the mini bus to the airport and the long flights home. This has been one of the memorable things I have ever done.’
We really can not thank Terry and Tim enough for undertaking this amazing challenge to raise money for us. Tim is a long term supporter of Farm Africa but to enable Terry to raise as much as possible for us he put his charity aside for this challenge. Tim is planning on running 30 marathons next year to mark his 30 years of supporting Farm Africa and Terry will be supporting Tim in his fundraising endeavours. Everyone at Epilepsy Lifestyle would like to thank Terry, Tim, their families and The Hastings Runners for all their support.