College teams stand on the roof of Africa

Posted on Friday 7 September 2012

Ascent of Mount Kilimanjaro

In July, 20 College students completed an ascent of Mt Kilimanjaro, Tanzania – at 5,895m the tallest free standing mountain in the world and the roof of Africa.

This World Challenge expedition, led by three members of staff, took the teams through cloud forest, open brushland and arid desert before attempting the summit: it takes more than 4 days just to trek to the base of the peak. Sleeping in mountain huts, the intrepid adventurers began their climb in the dark, reaching the first staging post at a height of over 5000m just before sunrise. Here they were greeted with a tin mug of tea, which due to the -15c conditions, promptly froze as it was being drunk.

From this point, the teams climbed on and by 7am on 24 July 2012, the entire party had stood on Uhuru peak; the summit of Kili and the roof of Africa!

Mt Kilimanjaro is no easy mountain to climb: at 5000m there is half the oxygen present at sea level. Less than 50% of people that attempt the climb actually reach the summit. Team member Rose Davies, head of Graphics, said: ‘The altitude sickness weighed on our shoulders with each step but the determination of the team was strong. The difficulty of the terrain increased as we rose higher from slippery stone to large boulders.

To reach the crater rim required a great physical and mental effort. This is probably the most demanding section of the entire route. The team continued to move very slowly with the arduous task of putting one foot in front of the other, snow under foot all the way, up to Uhuru.

The group were extremely supportive of each other along the way with words of encouragement. Finally, 6.5 hrs later, at sunrise we had arrived at the summit - which is extremely satisfying, totally exhilarating to see the beautiful, glaciers glistening in the early morning sun.’

Right from the beginning the students took responsibility for the planning and managing of the expedition, not to mention the raising of the money to pay for it all. From the time they set off from Farnborough to the time they returned, they took it in turns to lead the team, organise transport, accommodation, food and haggle with the locals in Swahili in order to get things done - all within a daily budget.

Students spent time helping in remote local communities where there is significant poverty and low levels of education. The enthusiasm and delight of the primary school children at having the students in their school, helping in class and carrying out building projects, was only exceeded by the enjoyment on the faces of our students.

This was an incredible achievement by students and staff, requiring considerable mental and physical discipline and strength. The successful mountaineers were:

• Lucy Basil
• Sophie Bowerman
• Lucy Brown
• Ben Eden
• Cecilia Farr
• Robyn Hart
• Pippa Lewis
• Andrew Lockwood
• Harriet Martin
• Hayden Orriss
• Alex Pointon
• Christianne Riseman
• Jacob Seward
• Mitchell Spechley
• Alex Simpson
• Vicki Taylor
• Helena Urquart
• Eli Watkins
• Maddie Watson
• Kathyrn Williams

The staff accompanying the trip were:
Rose Davies, Paul Fortescue, Richard Henderson and Avril McGovern with Matt Woodcock, the World Challenge team leader.

 

A day's trek to the base camp

A day's trek to the base camp

Mount Kilimanjaro in our sights!

Mount Kilimanjaro in our sights!

Group photograph before we start our ascent

Group photograph before we start our ascent

Time for a rest and something to eat!

Time for a rest and something to eat!

Our accommodation - sorting out where everyone is going to sleep!

Our accommodation - sorting out where everyone is going to sleep!

At the top - we made it!

At the top - we made it!