Ian Sey

Kilimanjaro Trek 2010

Fundraising for The Ayrshire Hospice
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Thanks for visiting my fundraising page For The Ayrshire Hospice.

A Year ago Chris Mcmail My MD completed a trek for the Hospice along the Great Wall of China last year, once back he signed up to trek Kilimanjaro, not being one to be left out I signed on as well.

Below is a brief account of my experience completing this challenge to give you an idea what I went through, the hospice and it's great work was never far from our minds and was a great focuser in our dark moments.

I would like to say a huge thank you to everyone who sponsored / supported me.

On Sunday 21st March myself and 35 other brave souls set off from the Machame gate hoping to reach uhuru peak at the very top of Mt Kilimanjaro, Sunday's trek was through the rain forest and it's not called that without a reason it rained, this was to set the tone of the weather for the rest of the trek, we made good time on the first day to Machame camp (3000m) and everyone was on a high, we were all chatting back and forth, getting to know all the people on the trek, each time we stopped for a drink or rest we would start trekking with someone new.

On Monday we cleared the rain forest and broke out to open ground with some rocky valleys & heather covered areas, the morning weather was nice and sunny but this was not to last & the mist soon rolled in and soon torrential rain started, luckily we made it to camp at Shira (3800m) by 2pm a couple of hours ahead of schedule. This was the first time I felt the effects of altitude sickness, shortness of breath, nausea, headache - started taking diamox & by lunchtime felt better

On Tuesday we were heading for Barranco camp (3900m) although only a hundred metres higher that the previous camp during the day we would climb to over 4752 m at the lava towers, the trail becomes very steep and you could be forgiven for thinking you were in the Scottish highlands, yet again the mist closed in and all views were gone, this was also the first time we saw some snow, after a short lunch at the lava towers we began our decent towards camp, clambering down rocks & through streams, it began to look like an alien landscape with strange looking tree's and plants, Unfortunately this is when I started to feel ill, I thought I had overdone it at lunch and I started to get what I thought was heartburn, as the afternoon continued it got worse, by the time I reached camp I was in a bad way, I called for the trek Dr & he suspected I had gastroenteritis. After a very bad night and many trips to the toilet (which I will not describe here) Dawn broke.

Wednesday morning, barranco wall, after the events of the previous day I had not noticed the wall when I came in to camp so looking out the tent & being greeted by the seemingly impossible sheer wall I knew I was in for a tough day, We started by crossing the gorge from the camp towards the wall & up ahead we could see porters at various points snaking their way up the wall, trekking up very narrow paths with ever increasing drops gave way eventually to the top where we all had a well deserved break. I was feeling back to normal by the point only needing Imodium to keep me in check, After a break at the top it was onward to Barafu Camp (4600m) which we made at about 5pm knowing this was our final camp & we would be leaving at midnight for the summit, so down to sleep for a couple of hours, then some dinner & a final briefing then back to bed and try to sleep.


Wednesday night was very cold with snow falling on the camp (as sign of things to come). all too soon it was time to get ready to go, with 4 layers on my legs and 7 layers up top, 3 layers of gloves and warnings ringing in our ears about frostbite we set of in the pitch black though near blizzard conditions and 12 inches of snow snaking our way uphill with every step seemingly sapping more and more energy, the cold wind & snow battering us on our accent. In the dark with only your head torch on you are focusing on the feet of the person just in front of you, looking up the mountain way up above us you could see lines of lights seemingly miles/hours away. This is the point where everyone's mental and physical strength was tested to the limit as we trudged one foot just in front of the other thoughts of stopping began to creep in to the mind, then after six and a half hours the sun started to come up and spirits rose as we could see stella point about an hour ahead, Gladstone & Vale were our guides & were constantly asking if we were ok & checking we were fit to continue & continue we did we reached Stella point after a 5 minute rest & a welcome cup of warm sweet tea Gladstone called for the first group to head for Uhura peak. After what seemed like an eternity of trudging through the snow (actually only an hour and a half) we reached Uhura peak (5895m) and I had my picture taken next to the famous sign. Mentally and physically exhausted we made our way back to Stella point & back down the mountain to camp. If we though uphill was hard descending a mountain covered in snow was an even bigger challenge, many people (me included) slid down sections of the mountain on our bottoms covering 30-40 ft in seconds. It took 4-5 hours to get back down to camp and a rest and some food before continuing down to millennium camp (3300m) where we had heard the rangers station sometimes had coke or beer, so down we went and another 3 hours later we made camp, broken, exhausted, elated and sunburned. No cokes but the last few beers were soon bought up by the brave souls who had made it.


After a good nights sleep it was time to pack up for our last five-six hour trek to the Mweka Gate and onward to our hotel, We all donated kit we no longer required to the porters and handed in our tips, after the tipping ceremony and much dancing & singing from the porters it was time to go, the terrain was varied and the vegetation was becoming more & more dense, eventually we entered the rainforest again and more sure footing it was during this time I was lucky enough to catch sight of a colobus monkey, another couple of hours later & the Mweka gate came in to view it was all over, I ran down the last 30 - 40 feet like a big kid elated it was over.

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About the charity

The Ayrshire Hospice

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Our charity cares for adults in Ayrshire and Arran with life-limiting illnesses. We help them live as actively as possible to the end of their lives, however long that may be. Hospice care is open to all. It’s free for patients but it’s not free to provide. So we need to raise over £4M each year.

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