Ben and Kilimanjaro

By Mika Berry

I have always loved a challenge but even by my standards this one may be a little crazy. I decided to climb Kilimanjaro for the charity BEN!

Kilimanjaro is the highest mountain in Africa and the highest free-standing mountain in the world at 5,895 metres. It is a dormant volcano and could erupt again at any time. 26 people die every year trekking up Kilimanjaro.

I left not really knowing what to expect, but it was going to be hard. However it was harder in different ways than I thought – the altitude, the terrain and the conditions. We had some cold and foggy days. It rained every single night and the water seeped through the bottom of our tents, our kit got damp and cold.

I had altitude sickness that lasted 3 days. I had to walk for about 10 hours a day on little sleep, feeling breathless and constantly vomiting.

Summit day is D Day on Kilimanjaro, the toughest mentally and the most demanding physically, from waking in the early hours in
pitch black and sub-freezing temperatures to collapsing exhausted at camp at the end of the day. But what a reward…
We set off at 11.30 pm. My headlamp showed me the calves and boots of the person in front of me, and little else, my legs and lungs burning at every rocky step. At some point I discovered that my water was frozen. I was crawling up narrow rock face, feeling vulnerable to gusting wind. I was exhausted. I felt light-headed and I’m pretty sure I hallucinated once.

Then the sun rose over the horizon. The sky was painted red and orange.

I finally got to the Uhuru peak – the highest point of all Africa, at an altitude of 5,895m.

The emotion experienced is one of pure intense relief at having made it.

Summit night was the hardest thing I have ever experienced in my life and it really made me appreciate what I can do when I have to.

I would like to thank everybody for all the support and donations to BEN.