Congratulations to Suzanne O’ Sullivan

On behalf of all at Currow Cycling Club I would like to congratulate Suzanne O’ Sullivan from Currans who recently climber Kiliminjaro.  Picturess and Diary below. Suzanne you make us all jealous

Killi Trip 19th – 30th September 2009 Memories’ of the gang

Guides: : Meke, Ellie, Florence, Betwell, George, Charles Rubin, & of course Medical Mike

Leader : Mark

Doc Supremo : Emmet

The gang: & what a fab gang to have done this with (in no order) Dave & Elaine, Lloyd & Mike, John, Martin, Darin, Trevor,  Aoife, Sandra, Suzanne, Nora, Sile, Claire , Orla,  Rob, Andy and my self

Day 1: (21/ 09/ 09)

The groups  nerves and excitement were palpable around the lodge.  All geared up in our clean new gear (little did we know we would not feel this clean again til the following Mon/ Tuesday!!.

Today commenced with a 2 hour often off road extreme 4x 4 drive to the gate of the forest where we would begin.  Some of us felt that drive was bad enough how much worse could it get.

Met the guides (10 for 20 of us!!)  ,Ellie who was introduced as Cheryl Coles guide on their Kili trip . 40  ??? porters and all of us were shocked at the numbers .  Ranking of the guides , assistant guides , porters had been explained by our first of many fab briefings from Mark.

Had lunch and were told there was toilets here so the ladies explored the facilities .  We were met by drop toilets from hell worse than any toilet any of us had experienced before.

Today’s walk was a lovely gentle start thro the rainforest, lots of hungry army ants awaited who seems to like getting everywhere and had a vicious bite.  Undeterred we continued and strangely many of us were even at this stage starting to feel the effects of altitude so SOB on standing, headaches and Flatulence ++.  Some thing apparently you look to show your body is acclimatising.

The walk was mostly up hill or a term that we would come to know / hate From Mark undulating!

Lots of dust already so many of us were beginning to look and feel and little less shiny now. Camp was set up by the porters in advance so we got our bearings .Each pair was allocated a functional, small 2 man tent.  Toilets comprised of porta loos with a tent cover. I- pod provided the entertainment for this night and each and every other night.  No phone coverage in first camp.  Food amazing and plentiful and all went to our respective tents full, excited and finally settled to some much needed sleep.

Day 2: (22/ 09/09)

Elaine the youngest of the gang turned 21 today!!

Following a night of snoring, frequent toilet stops and monkey calls we awoke .  The gang we awakened to the sounds of one of the early birds of the gang much to everyone’s dismay. Needless to say further to some more good long walks this was the last time she might have so much energy.

After a great breakie of porridge and a cooked breakfast, Malk (an olde fav aka powdered milk) and washi- washi we set off from Big Tree camp for the day. Each day a guide would lead us with approx 4-5 more guides dispersed throughout our group.  Our reliance and need for the guides  ( physically and motivationally) would become more and more apparent as the  days went on.  Through the remainder of the walk we went thro rainforest followed by arid landscape with a lot of rocks and cacti.  Walked the guts of 6.6 hours today (we were told by Mark this was quicker than the previous group) into Shiraz Camp 1.  The porters who again had run on and set up our tents and camp greeted us.  A feature of arriving each day into camp was to be the washi washi (a basin each of warm water) in which one could attempt to wash.  However from here on in it became apparent that as soon as one would wash as much as hands and face the water and your hands and face would be dirty again from dirt and dust an impossible task.

Pm Washi washi was always followed by popcorn, tea, and coffee and (the drink of Champions!!) in the mess tent were we all gathered for meals and for our nighttime’s entertainment.

Dirt++ and toilets were becoming an obsession and quite a feature.  We were in reality dusty / dirty for approx 23 and quarter hours of the day.

Dinner would finish approx 7 pm local time and even the most steadfast of the group on average managed to stay up until only 9.30ish pm.

Sleep was required.

Day 3 (23/09/09)

As the norm each day we were woken by the lovely Florence at 6.30am.  We awoke to frost (birr+++on tent) this is only day 3!  Our enthusiasm for a proper washi washi was rapidly deteriorating coupled with our ability to keep warm.

However as the local guides had advised once the, sun comes up it will heat up and yes it did slightly but it became apparent we were not going to get a tan on this holiday. Today was the first day we were advised by Mark that we may feel altitude as we were climbing to 3, 300 – 4,000.  And as he had advised the effects of altitude happened to quite a few of the group intermittently.  People would report a “pressure on their heads as if they might explode” and the horrible nausea.

Aoife fair play to her managed to get her hands and fingernails clean (took a mere 30- 50 mins!!!).  This may seem trivial but the potential to be clean for any length of time was amazing.

We climbed Shiraz Cathedral, which was amazing, and we got phone coverage for the first time in a while so texts and phone calls had to be made.  Trevor phoned his Mum so as not to alert her to the fact that he was out of the country and in fact doing Kili .!!

Lloyd and Mike decided to get at one with nature .

We slept back down at 3,600 metres as climbing up and then sleeping down at lower altitude helps adjust to the altitude and we were not going to argue with that.

Day 4 (24/09/09)

After a very cold night we set off at 8.20 am leaving the Shiraz huts and heading towards Lava Tower at 4,600 metres.  We had heard stories from Mark the night before that this was a day that other groups found most difficult and many were struck with altitude.  And yes indeed the same would happen today for this group keeping Doc Emmet busy.

After a stop for lunch we headed to Lava Tower and to Baranco wall . The area resembled a moon like area or something out of Jurassic Park.  We were also now at the foot of Kili it now looked very close and bigger than ever.

We arrived at camp following 9 hours of up and down hill.  Everyone enjoyed washi washi and getting their hiking boots off .

Day 5 ( 25/ 09/09)

Baranco wall comprises what looks from a distance as a sheer wall that would challenge the best rock climber but once on it most of it (not all) was a snaking trail with ledges of approx 5-6 “ depth but required a lot of concentration all the same.   A classic  quote from Orla  one of the gang having finished it “ I just climbed the baranco wall with my boot lace undone”.

The kissing wall part of baranco wall aptly named as it had no ledge and you had to step from one ledge to the other .

There was then a steep decent and ascent (undulating again) into Karango wall camp.  The busiest yet with loads of other groups .  We were by now getting into the routine of it all from getting up getting kit and water done and checked and packed away into the day ruck sack which we carried  and , packing away your main bag of clothes etc which the porters would run on ahead to next camp and have set up for us .

We were each aiming to drink as much to or over 5 litres of water a day to help prevent dehydration and those horrendous headaches/ altitude sickness.  So all were toileting frequently which meant as camp was the only place were the porta loos existed our choice of where,  when and what coverage did not seem to matter any more .

Mark our leaders nightly briefings of what we would expect and need to do for the next day were getting “better every day” .  In fairness the group built each of his briefings into something like a  Gettysburg address!!.  The pressure was on the poor guy to deliver.

We arrived that day in Summit Camp just 36 hours away from leaving for Summit. The camp was now filled with nervous laughter.  Many of us compared it to an exam or a race .

Day 6 26/ 09/09) Summit Day/ Night

Today was filled with the need to carb up (well that’s what I took from it!!) , drink as much water as you can and rest.  All would seem like very doable but with our previous knowledge, the  briefing that day from both Mark and head guide Meke (who had climbed Kili 200 times  and would lead us ) tonight left many of  us feeling sick , unable to sleep and our fight and flight response was kicking in.

We had our final sleep till 11.20pm and had to meet in the Mess tent having done full gear / clothing check and water / food check for the summit attempt by 11.30pm last carbs / water  .  The mess tent was jammed we all had so many layers on and as Meke called us “fat babies “ that would be crying for this and that as soon as we started our ascent.

We set off at 12.40am approx and what I had heard about why it is done in the dark definitely felt accurate , as a lot of this was a steep climb upwards.  This is how the night would go all of us climbing  steep up hill climbs one foot in foot of the other and with each of the guides dispersed (their singing local tunes encouraging us ) .  Breaks initially every 45 mins  could only be short and you needed to decide whether it would a toilet stop or food / drink .  Considering all of us had been so meticulous with our water and food requirements up till now none of us really felt we had the energy or could be bothered drinking and eating.  Temp approx minus 20 and wind chill approx minus 25.  At about 2.30am one of our group asked how much longer we would be going up such steep climb to which Mark answered until about 8.30 am lovely we all thought!!!.

Considering this gang had up to this night been a lively, noisy group the only sounds were a few talking, many had I-pods on and all of us were doing whatever we could to dig deep and keep going.  The relentlessness of this was broken thankfully by the dawn and wow it was amazing.  We got a little emotional ,  congratulated each other and had a break.  Guides feeding us hot water, rubbing our hands / feet and choosing words they knew would help keep us going.

Our celebration was indeed a little premature we had about another hour and an half of the steepest climb at 40% Oxygen yet to do but were all now filled with renewed energy.

At 8.40 am on 27/09/09  we reached the Summit!  The group were all emotional and proud of our group achievement.  Group photo’s was taken and as per advice we got off mountain in quick time at this altitude it is recommended you only stay a maximum of 15 minutes.  We made our descent back to Summit camp for a much needed 1-hour break and then set off to millennium Camp

Our achievement keeping us going and the thought of further to a five hour walk tmow again leaving the forest and getting our first shower and bed the next day.

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