The best and worst experience of my life!

Text and pictures by Kerry Adams

Around 18 months ago I had the decision to climb Kilimanjaro for the National Society of Epilepsy. After a long year of fundraising and rigorous training I finally made the attempt to summit. It was both the best and worst experience of my life which I would highly recommend to everyone!

I have kept a little diary to give you an insight to the amazing adventure...

Day 1:
After a day of travelling and a night at the hotel getting to know the group we set off the gate. A mix of excitement and nerves fill the bus as we make the trip over. Today’s trekking started off with a gentle 4 hours climb to the first camp, where we had our first experience of the long drop!

Day 2:
With an early 6am start we set off for today’s trek which is a 6 hour steep climb. Today was the first real taste of the toughness of the climb and the first signs of altitude. Breathing became very difficult to do and the African heat was very difficult to walk in, but the jungle scenery was fantastic.

Day 3:
Another very early start for today’s trek, but as I am now starting to acclimatise so breathing is now becoming a little bit easier. The terrain has changed dramatically today and the views have really opened up and today we reach cloud level which was quite an experience in itself.

Day 4:
Today we are trekking to the base of Mawenzi which stands at 4,300 metres. Altitude sickness really hits today and I start to feel very nauseous. My energy level completely depletes and I really struggle with the steep climb. My trek mates fill me with jelly beans and energy gels to attempt to muster up some energy to reach camp. My body has absolutely hit its limit and after sleep deprivation, sub-zero temperatures, altitude sickness and physical exertion I just concentrate in getting to Kibo tomorrow, the base camp before the summit.

Day 5:
After an excruciating day yesterday and temperature in camp dropping I faced quite a challenge ahead getting to Kibo, an 11 hour steady climb across the saddle. At around lunch-time my body completely gave in and I struggled even to take a step. The rest of the group continued on to Kibo and I somehow slowly managed to crawl into camp with a few guides who stayed behind. Getting to camp was the hardest thing I had ever done and was so pleased I reached there.

Day 6:
I woke very suddenly at around 4am this morning with an agonising headache, so bad I could not open my eyes as the light was piercing pain. Another girl was suffering in the same way and we were both evacuated off the mountain, leaving the group behind and quickly taken to the camp below. We later found out the headache was caused by swelling of the brain, thankfully as we began to descend the pain did go.

Day 7:
Today, finally all the signs of altitude sickness have gone and we make our way back down to the hotel. On the way down we get a radio call from the rest of the group with news that one of the group had an angina attack very close to the peak and he has been rushed down in a stretcher with the doctor and we are to go to the hospital when we meet at the bottom. Panic set in about his health and the dangers of the climb, thankfully when we meet at the bottom he is up and well and is given the all clear from the hospital.

Day 8:
After spending most of the afternoon in the hospital we all go back to the gate to meet the rest of a very worried group. There are a lot of hugs and celebrations when they see we are all ok and we have a very big party that night!!

I am still fund-raising for the charity and we are holding our last pub quiz fundraiser on Friday 17th December so do come along! Tickets are only £10 and include a buffet dinner. This is being held at the Corfe Mullen Village Hall, tickets are available on
01202 861925

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