Welcome to the mini series finale on climbing Kilimanjaro. The guest blogger in this case is Vikki Allan. I’m excited to say that Vikki achieved a Guinness World Record after her successful climb to the summit of Kilimanjaro. This mini series will detail what you need in order to climb it, the preparation she went through and the climb itself. To read more from the guest blogger then you can find her on Twitter here: @vikkimallan. I’ll now pass you over to Vikki…
Where to start… on the 22nd May 2017 I was asked if I would be available to referee a match at some point in June and it would be slightly different… After initially agreeing very sceptically I found out that I would be travelling to Tanzania on 15th June to be an Assistant Referee on a world record breaking match on top of Kilimanjaro!!
The reason for this match was to raise awareness of gender inequality within sports. What better way to do this than climb Kilimanjaro and break a record that had never been done before? I was super excited but also wondering how on earth I was going to climb a mountain with only three weeks training and also not being able to actually train to my full potential due to prior engagements!
So I thought I would write a few blogs on how to prepare for climbing Kilimanjaro, how the trek up Kilimanjaro is and how to spend my very limited two days seeing Tanzania!
Day 9 – Camping with the Celebs! (4-5 hrs hike)
It’s our final “normal” day of climbing another 5 hour hike and is all uphill again with some very steep climbs. This climb was quite boring I felt, the land is quite bare now so there wasn’t much to look at apart from up at the challenge ahead.
Tip: On the final few days of climbing have Vaseline ready for your nose and lips as the wind dries these out. Also bandanas or scarves ready to cover your face from the harsh weather.
Tip: Remember to go to the toilet before leaving… as I say there aren’t many rocks now to hide behind.
We were headed for Kosovo camp today, which is where the likes of Ferne Cotton, Cheryl Cole etc. camped when they climbed Kilimanjaro. The reason for camping here is that you are slightly closer for the final summit climb and means that on the final morning you don’t need to climb two other sections prior to the final ascent (which I was extremely thankful for on the last day!!).
We arrived at camp in time for lunch and then had our last meetings to discuss the final ascent and our match the next day. Kosovo camp is extremely windy though and the porters were struggling to set up our tents. After dinner we discussed our teams plan for tomorrow for the final climb, the support crew would leave at 2am and we would leave at 3am. We were told as we were now also so high up the mountain we would probably struggle to sleep as the air is so thin, lucky I didn’t have long to wait before getting up…
Day 10 – The final countdown (16 hr – this was including preparing our pitch and playing football… I believe it is usually about 8-10 hr)
I awoke at 2am and had no idea how I felt; I was scared, I was excited, I had butterflies, I was eager… so many emotions and no idea what was ahead.
It was pitch black still outside, we went into the dining tent and there was breakfast ready for us. I was so anxious that I couldn’t eat. I had one or two pancakes and went away to get my final stuff ready. I had put a compression bandage around the pipe of my water bladder as it’s so cold in the final climb I heard people’s water had frozen so was trying to prevent this. I had SO MANY LAYERS on to climb two leggings, 2 fleeces, all the tops, thick socks, warm trousers, glove liners and thick gloves. However, I was ready to climb. I had my head torch on and was ready to go with all the other girls and our guides.
It’s a very long zig zag up the mountain and all you can see are the feet in front of you or if you look up the mountain the zig zag of lights from everyone in front climbing up the mountain. The reason you leave so early in the morning is because of the cold and that it hardens the ground underneath. If not the ground is like sand it’s very hard to climb as you can slip and slide. When the ground is frozen it’s completely solid. After one hour I started to feel ill again, I was exhausted and definitely hadn’t eaten enough at breakfast. The guides got gelatine sweets out for me which were to give me bursts of energy and as I went to have a drink my entire water bladder had frozen. I started to panic and thought I was never going to make it up the mountain.
The guides kept us all going as we all began to struggle in one-way or another. This was an extremely difficult mental challenge as a lot of the time you were just with yourself and your thoughts. The guides would sing to us to keep our spirits high and we all spurred each other on as well. The stories of these amazing women and what they had to conquer to get where they are today is amazing. Everyday these women have to climb mountains just to play a sport they love; this made it worth doing this challenge to hopefully raise awareness of this around the world and give younger girls heroes to look up to!
After 3 or 4 hours the sun started to rise, this was one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen in my life. After 5 hours of climbing we reached the edge of the crater at Stellar Point, it was one of the most emotional experiences of my life. All the thoughts and feelings I had kept inside just rushed out everyone hugged each other and cried congratulating on reaching the crater. Only two of the women didn’t make it up to the crater and had to go back down to camp.
We had to then walk down into the crater and wait for the pitch to be finalised. Porters had carried the goals up and flour was being used for the lines on the pitch. Before the game we were all to do our blood/oxygen tests, normally as explained previously we did this at night after dinner this time was slightly different. We were to walk round the pitch (just walk…) and then do the test. My oxygen levels had dropped down to 55% and my heart rate was 150bpm. This just shows how thin the air was now and how much energy it took just to walk, I now had to help officiate a 90 minute football match that was going to break a world record, no pressure!!!!
Morag blew the whistle and we were off….. 90 minutes later and with the 0-0 score we had broken the world record!!
We were all so energised that I would say 95% of us climbed to the top of the mountain! Only a few were so exhausted that they went back down, to be honest we probably all were but the adrenaline was so great we just wanted to get to the top. After another hour of climbing I reached Uhruru Peak, queue more tears and emotion! There was the most fantastic glacier at the top of the mountain and a sight I’ve never seen before, it was all quite spectacular.
After some quick pictures and videos it was time to descend back to Stellar Point. What had been a 5hr climb to Stellar point became a 40 minute descent I couldn’t believe it! My legs were like Bambi the mud below our feet moved like snow as if we were skiing down the side of the mountain. Once we got to camp one of our guides was there to greet us with tea, I felt like my legs would collapse. We had dinner and said our thanks to the guides for getting us through the day. We then went to bed after our 16 hour day of climbing and playing football, but we had done it!!!
Day 11 & 12 – It’s the Climb (4-5 hr day 1 and 4-6 hr day 2 hike)
After 7 days of gruelling climbing, feeling ill beyond belief it was time to descend the rest of the mountain. The speed that we went down the mountain was incredible, and the way that the eco system around us changed was unbelievable. By the time we got in the camp the air was definitely humid and could feel the difference to the harsh mountain air at the top. It’s the first time I had my waterproof jacket on in the trip.
When we arrived at camp we did our final check in and went in to our tents. The porters and guides then had a ceremony for us to congratulate us on climbing the mountain, they sang and danced, and we joined in. It was great fun and brilliant to be able to interact more personally with the porters again. It was an early start again the next day and was our final day on Kilimanjaro, again the scenery completely changed; we were now in a rain forest with monkeys and animals everywhere. It was beautiful and you could finally feel the end was near of our adventure!
After about 2/3 hours of walking we made it to the gate where film crews were waiting to film us arrive again! News had spread about our achievements and media wanted to hear our stories. At the bottom you are able to buy beer/drinks to celebrate, remember you have used all your energy so don’t go too crazy! You also check out for the last time and its quite emotional knowing that is it. There is then the tipping ceremony where each group presented their guides, waiters and porters with their tips.
Tip: Be generous; this is their living the service that these guys give you is second to none. They look after you; they are your guide, your teacher, your doctor, your therapist and your family. They want to make sure you can achieve your dreams and are just amazing.
We then went to a local restaurant/shop where we had some lunch, a spot of wine and received our certificates for climbing to the top. There is also an opportunity to purchase items to do with Kilimanjaro and have forever lasting memories of your achievement.
I had another day in Tanzania but that’s for another blog…..
Four months after my trip I received my certificate for the Guinness World Record for the highest football match in the world as part of the Equal Playing Field Initiative. It’s the proudest achievement of my life and it was a trip of a lifetime!! We are already talking of our next adventure to Jordan to play the lowest game of football in the world at the Dead Sea as the lowest game in the world!!! Keep an eye out for my blog!
Full Kilimanjaro Route:
Our group took a slightly longer and quieter route to what normal groups possibly take. This was for a few reasons, the first being the size of our group. When we camped there were 60 of us plus all our porters etc so you can imagine the size of our group! We needed a massive campsite to sleep in at night and also our tents to eat in. The other reason being we wanted to make sure we completed the world record, by taking a slightly longer route this meant we were able to acclimatise better to the conditions and have a higher chance of completing our challenge.
The route we took is called the Shira route. It took seven days to climb and two to descend. You enter through the Londorossi gate and start your climbing at Morum Barrier Gate then camping at Shira Camp 1. Our routes slightly changed but below are the altitudes:
DAY 1: MORUM BARRIER GATE (12,362 ft./ 3,768 m) ~ SHIRA 1 CAMP (12,200 ft./ 3,720 m)
DAY 2: SHIRA 1 CAMP ~ SHIRA 2 CAMP (12,600 ft./ 3,950 m)
DAY 3: SHIRA 2 CAMP ~ MOIR CAMP (13,800 ft./ 4,205 m)
DAY 4: MOIR CAMP ~ LAVA TOWER (CHINI) CAMP (15,000ft / 4,637m) ~BARANCO CAMP (12,000ft/3,900m)
DAY 5: BARANCO CAMP ~ KARANGA CAMP (13,100 ft./ 3,995 m)
DAY 6: KARANGA CAMP ~ KOSOVO CAMP (15,750 ft./ 4,800 m)
DAY 7: KOSOVO CAMP ~ UHURU PEAK (19,340 ft./ 5,895 m)
DAY 8: KOSOVO CAMP ~ MWEKA MILLENNIUM CAMP (12,500 ft./ 3,810 m)
DAY 9: MWEKA MILLENNIUM CAMP~MWEKA GATE (6,000 ft. /1,830 m)