Kilimanjaro: Why I Climbed it Twice
The trek to the summit of Kilimanjaro is undoubtedly one of the most famous treks in the world. But whilst the mountain guides who live at the base of the peak will tackle the challenge tens, if not hundreds, of times in their lives, there are very few other people who attempt the summit more than once. However, the CACH team are quite an adventurous bunch, and our very own Sam has headed out to Tanzania twice for the climb. Here, he answer’s our questions all about his return to Kili.
1) Why did you return to Kilimanjaro - what compels someone to do it twice?
Kili is a really magical part of the world. Everyone who climbs Kilimanjaro comes away from it with this massive sense of achievement, and is really glad and proud that they did it. I fundamentally believe that doing a trip like this changes you as a person - and I was exactly like that. I was going into my role as a challenge leader right after I came back from Kili the first time, so when I was on the summit the first time around I knew I would be headed back there. For me, since the first time I stepped foot on the mountain 4 and a half years ago, it has always captivated me. I'd return to Kilimanjaro tomorrow in a heartbeat.
2) What did you differently on your second climb?
I was really familiar with everything. I knew what kit I needed; I knew Moshi town; I know the Machame route, I knew how everything fitted together - which meant I was in a really good position to support the rest of the group through what was their first time on the mountain. It's really important to get that community spirit going whilst you're tackling the mountain, so it was awesome to have that new role, having been there before. Unfortunately due to altitude sickness I wasn't able to make it back up to the summit - but I'll get back up there on climb #3 I'm sure.
3) Could you share a piece of advice for a first time climber?
Take your time. Enjoy yourself. Breathe in your surroundings. Look up at the stars. Sure, there will be times during your 6 days on the mountain where you won't want to be there - everyone has ups and downs when you're trekking the highest freestanding mountain in the world. But the hard work will pay off tenfold when you reach that last stretch from Stella Point to Uhuru Peak. You'll treasure your memories from Kili forever, so make the most of it while you're there.
4) Did you have a different mindset the second time round?
For Kili 2, I was challenge leading. So it came with an extra amount of responsibility and, I guess, pressure. There's also the dimension that as each trekking day goes by, you know what's coming at you - which in some ways makes it more difficult because you get very inside your head about it. It's complex: on the one hand you're at an advantage because of the familiarity, but on the other your task is made harder by the mental pressure of being back there.
5) What’s your favourite part of the trek?
Barranco Camp. The group arrives into Barranco mid-afternoon after a gentle decline following a mountain stream and as the campsite appears in front of you, you can see the mighty Barranco Wall to your left - your route for tomorrow - and Moshi town beyond the camp, beneath the mountain. Over the course of the evening the sun came down and gave us a spectacular sunset over the peak. The moon was so big and bright that night, and the first stars appeared as the lights down in Moshi town started coming on one-by-one. We were treated to such a clear night at Barranco, and the lack of light pollution makes the abundance of stars shine out all the clearer. Knowing that tomorrow was our final push to the summit made what was an already surreal and life-affirming experience all the more special.
If you’re interested in climbing Kilimanjaro, please check out our itinerary here. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org.