ODE TO KILIMANJARO
An uphill struggle to a barren summit...
Shall I book it? Too late, I've done it!
I'm going to climb a mountain, the almighty Kili
Not sure if I'm brave or just being silly!
We head to the airport with a bag full of kit
Waterproofs, sun hats and fleecy mits
We're prepared for all weathers as we take to the air
With nine hours of flying before we get there
An overnight flight with hardly any sleep
Does little to prepare us for our impending feat
But we check into a lodge and enjoy a few beers
As we settle our nerves and share our fears
There's 15 in the group, with Phil the trek leader
And a doctor too, I hope I don't need her!
All lovely people with their own personal story
All hoping to get that moment of glory
A good night's sleep and we're off to the start
Already I can feel the beat of my heart
It's a drizzly beginning as we head into the woods
But the rain soon leaves, no need for a hood
We trek up through the forest at a pace like a snail
Too quick and the guides "Pole pole" would hail
It's better to acclimatise if we all go slow
Frustrating at first but worth it we know
We reach our first camp a thousand metres up
That's a mountain at home but here no such luck
Our tents are all ready and we're greeted with songs
From the porters who carry our camp all along
A hearty meal then it's off to bed
An early start, "Don't be late!" Phil said!
Already the air is harder to breathe
As the oxygen levels start to recede
We tuck into breakfast after a restless sleep
Downing coffee and porridge then we're up on our feet
As we head to camp Shira, it's a steep climb today
We're all exhausted by the end of the day
Now nearly 4000 metres and the views are amazing
With beautiful dark skies that are great for star gazing
The forests are gone, replaced with bushes and rocks
And the dust gets everywhere, not just in our socks!
We measure our oxygen and heart rates as well
As the toll from the climb begins to tell
Headaches and nausea have started for some
And nosebleeds as well are about to come
Day three arrives, we know the routine
Breakfast, fill the water, apply the sun cream
A stretching session gets our muscles all powered
Then we head off for lunch at Lava Tower
We're really high now, nearly level with Mt Blanc
And the terrain's far more open, the bushes all gone
Replaced with black rocks all made of lava
From volcanic explosions erupting like cava
We descend to camp three for much needed rest
'Climb high, sleep low' is the plan that works best
A baby wipe bath and wash of the feet
Then off to the mess tent for something to eat
Day four arrives, it's a big one today
An eleven hour trek before our next stay
Our first challenge of the day, the Barranco wall
One foot wrong and it's a long way to fall
An exhausting climb with lots of false summits
But we make it to the top, thank God we've done it!
A group jump photo then we march off again
Not so steep now much flatter terrain
Then the climb picks up as we head to camp four
The high camp, after which there are no more
We sort out our thermals, night torches and gloves
As we get ready for the part we'll hate or love
It's 1am, very cold and dark
This certainly won't be a walk in the park!
Five hours of climbing before the sun rises
Head down, small steps, just think of the prizes!
We're struggling to breathe as the air gets thinner
And some people are stopping to bring up their dinner!
Headaches and heartaches bring tears for some
As batteries run low and emotions overrun
Then finally the sun appears in the East
And we bathe in it's warmth, what a feast!
It's a beautiful sight as we reach the crater rim
The sense of relief finally begins
We're at Stella Point now, not far from the summit
A gentle climb and then we've done it
We solider on, weary and tired
As we continue on up, higher and higher
Then the end is in sight, the infamous sign
At the top of the mountain a sight so fine
The last hundred yards and we touch the top
To answer the question, would we make it or not?
We all take photos and savour the views
Ready to share our fantastic news
But we don't hang around, the air's cold and thin
And we've another six hours trek to fit in
It's all downhill as we slide down the scree
Making very fast progress, only stopping for a pee!
We quickly descend and the air gets thicker
As we breathe in more oxygen we'll no longer get sicker
Just one more camp then the end is our goal
As we stride on downhill making use of our poles
We're all in good spirits but weathered and worn
Some of our kit battered and torn
Then we reach the finish, our mission complete
To conquer the mountain we all came to meet
A mountain so tall you won't find another
Standing proudly alone, she has no big brother.
A mountain that became our friend and our foe
Testing our resolve with its beauty on show
A huge personal challenge that each of us set
And an experience I'm sure we'll never forget