Beware What You Ask at a KKY Rendezvous! by Phillip Mousley
Remember that great Kadey-Krogen Rendezvous last October? How could those that attended forget, old friends, new friends, great company, interesting speakers, fantastic food, entertainment, & the weather chipped in too. Many new cruising plans were formed, interesting gadgets made or ordered, pacts formed to meet up again sometime somewhere & some of us ended up with a little more than we bargained for.
Why were Jeff & Susie Parker (Idyll Time) endlessly going up & down a small hillock with rucksacks on their backs? Indeed, why did they go everywhere with fully loaded rucksacks? Early morning spying found the rucksacks being loaded with 20/40 Sae. Did taking the oil for a walk improve engine life? Was there a re-call on the product & they were exchanging it? The rumour mill found them hiking miles away with it, they say curiosity killed the cat, it was about to.
So hey there eJeff & Susie' what's with the oil thing then? - We're practicing for climbing Kilimanjaro, - Wow, where exactly would that be then? - Tanzania in South Africa, - Err, how high would that be? - 19,340 ft - H'mm, what time of year are you going? - January - Weather be nice then? - Well, you start in tropical rain forest & end up in minus 15/20f in snow & ice, - You sound like crazy people, - Well maybe, are you coming? - Am I going to hike Kilimanjaro after a 3 minute conversation, yes of course - I'm as crazy as you are.
So there you have it, not just to meet up South on the ICW in a few weeks or months time, but to climb the highest mountain in Africa. Catherine, my wife, quickly saw the downside of living in a tent for 11 days, 9 without showering & most of it in sub-zero conditions, but she encouraged me every step of the way. Whilst I am waiting for a cancellation on the same trip as Jeff & Susie, I learn they have chosen the longest, hardest route that has just re-opened due to several fatalities two years ago. On a trial hike back at home in not very nice conditions a friend & my brother-in-law declined the offer to join me on this little jaunt, the cancellation comes through & before we know it I am in the same line as Jeff & Susie at Amsterdam Airport for the flight to Kilimanjaro.
We all look in good shape but there is a high failure rate due to cold & altitude sickness, and this is like motion sickness, you just do not know if & at what height/sea state you are going to suffer from it, if in fact you're going to.
And so, we bump along dirt tracks for several hours to get to the trail head, I had not thought as to the numbers involved to get the 10 paying clients to the top, Trip Leader, 2 Assistant Guides, Camp Boss, 2 Cooks, 3 Assistant Cooks, 2 Toilet Guys & 70 Porters who packed in everything mainly balanced on their heads.
What a fantastic experience! Incredibly hot weather for the first two days & this claimed the first two casualties & three porters also had to descend with illness problems. As we climb it gets colder & the next day following a very sensible decision another of our group descends, on every descent the Trip Leader has to split guides, cooks, tents, porters, & gear as we are now too high for vehicle rescue. Another two days & we are at the foot of the Western Breach, many have climbed Kilimanjaro by the eTourist' routes few by way of the Western Breach. Another casualty that evening, she has to leave camp immediately to lessen the altitude effect, albeit that means a three hour hike in the dark. Now there are six of us & a lot less in the support crew.
Tomorrow morning it's a 3am call & on the trail by 4am. Our Trip Leader eBonaventure' wants to get the most of Western Breach under foot while it's still frozen. (or does he not want us to see just what we are climbing?!)
So with our safety hats, head flash lights & almost all the clothes on that we had with us, we start to ascend the 2000 feet to the crater rim. There are a few tears on the way up from one of our fellow travellers, it's cold, & as daylight breaks you can see that in several places a boot in the wrong place & you're gone. We pause in places while Bonaventure cuts footsteps in the ice & snow, we are only the second group to go via the Western Breach since its closure & there seems to be more than one route up & we are on virgin snow & ice. It's 10.45 am & we pop over the last ridge & there we are, on the crater rim, it's windy & very cold now, a snow field & one of many of the large glaciers is now facing us, just another mile or so & another 1000ft up & we will be standing on the roof of Africa.
Yes! We have the photographs & we bought the tee shirts.
So a word of warning, if you see the Parkers & Idyll Time somewhere on the East Coast this Summer & they are attempting to lash stray dogs together, don't stop, don't ask the question, keep cruising.
As for myself, I know the answer & of course I'm going!
Phillip and Catherine Mousley own "Jabberwock", a Krogen 48' North Sea and are currently en route to the Exumas.