Location: Uhuru Peak, summit of Mt Kilimanjaro
Distance: From the coastal town of Tanga to summit via Machame route, 451km
Time: 14 days, 9 days running, 5 days climbing
Thought of the day: a dream became a reality
- first and foremost Ally, for being my support person, nurse, taxi, friend and climbing buddy
- my family for all their love and support
- Ryan Pellet for inspiring and supporting this dream
- my sponsor Bivouac, thanks Chris and the team
- everyone who donated towards this cause
- Movember and Mental health foundation of NZ
- to everyone who sent messages of encouragement or shared this story with others
- Edgewater College, to Allan, Dave, staff and students for encouraging me
- AUT university Diploma in Outdoor Recreation and Leadership program
- Jasper, Athmani, Ellen and Kili Climbers
Finally my dream has become a reality. At 6:45 yesterday morning right on sunrise, the first sea to summit ascent of Mt Kilimanjaro was successfully completed. I must say it didn’t come easy. After battling through different stages of pain and emotions I ticked off the 387km 9 day run to complete part 1 of the journey. But this has been explained in previous posts so I will move right along. I will explain more information about the climb and the days leading up to the summit bid in the next few days, but for now it’s the part we have all been waiting for, reaching the roof of Africa.
Both me and Ally’s preparation for the midnight summit climb consisted of constant vomiting, dihorrea, and dehydration. This was strange for me as I have been much higher and ascended faster without getting altitude sickness before but I guess you never know exactly what your body is going to do. My last spew was at 11:25pm and we had to start getting ready at 11:30. Feeling like death we put on all the warm clothes we had and threw back a milo before we started walking. We could see a few patches of head lamps in the distance of some groups already heading up. The instructions were very simple, don’t look up and keep moving. Easier said than done as every 5 minutes you want to see how much further there was to go, but it was dark so all you could see is head lights which seemed a mile away.
We had no food or water left in our body and were both feeling pretty sick but the overall goal was far to big to stop moving. Our guides monitored our health and progress and kept motivating us to continue, so slowly but surely one foot followed the other and we crept ever so closer to the first target of stellar point at 5,780m. We finally reached Stellar point as the sun was trying to break through the clouds. With the summit now in sight we dug deep and pushed on to to make it for sunrise. That last 45 minute walk along the ridge to Uhuru peak was one of the most surreal moments of my life. At this point I knew we were both going to make it and the moment we had been talking about for months was footsteps away. It was at this time where I started reflecting on this adventure and acknowledging what it had taken both physically and mentally to get here. When we finally arrived at the summit the view was like looking out of an airplane window as we really were on top of everything. It was a very special place to finish a goal, no media, finish line, banners or advertising, just the incredible person who went through it all with me and two local guides who’s love and respect for the mountain is unparalleled.
I have no qualm in stating that I found this 6 hours to be some of the toughest I have faced. Many times I thought I was not going to make it and that I waned to turn back, but it’s not what we think, but what we do that defines us.
If you have dreamed of doing something but pushed it aside because it was too hard or too expensive, then I urge you to put that dream back on the table and somehow make it work. If you are scared of failing, the only true way you can fail is to continue to make excuses and not even try. After my sea to summit attempt of Mt Aconcagua I spent a lot of time pondering the true definition of failure and success. I have learnt that if you can proudly share an honest account of your story with others then it has been a success as you are at peace with what has happened.
Before all of this started I was no seasoned mountaineer, or competitive runner. I was just a guy with a dream who loves the outdoors. The world is full of ordinary people achieving extraordinary things, so please, take the path less travelled and feel extraordinary.
My next big goal is to raise $10,000 for the mental health foundation of NZ to help those fighting mental illness. Please donate to this cause as I now know how powerful the mind can really be. Thank you so much to all of those who have already donated. Sharing this story is another way to make a difference.