I summitted Kili age 15, on the 4th July 2008, as part of the first team in a school trip of 20 students, and 2 adults, including my dad.
This was a fantastic trip, with such amazing people and in a really lovely area. It was also my dad’s first high altitude mountain experience, besides skiing and rock climbing, so it this was ground-breaking territory for him!
Neville Hopwood can take full credit for arranging and training us all for this one, and an amazing 13 students summitted.
However, it really wasn’t without its difficulties. We got up for summit day at about 12:30am, having had very little or no sleep because of the altitude and huge winds that rattled the tents. It was bitterly cold, and because we were in the dark you couldn't see the progress you were making, which was so disheartening, especially on the huge scree slope that takes you up to Gilman’s Point. From there you are conned into thinking you’re almost there, but it seems to take forever to finally reach Uhuru Peak.
Finally, and personally my most difficult part, was the descent. We were told to go on down individually, and having had no sleep for over 24 hours, alone, at altitude, this resulted in a tearful, mentally draining experience down the never ending, physically exhausting scree slope. Plus, after arriving back at camp, we packed up that same day and started making our way back down the mountain!
In Hopwood’s words, ‘a trek is after all a journey, not a destination, which we can each take something from’ and I think this was a huge learning curve for all of us.
Plus, we got a couple of days of wonderful safaris after all of our hard work!