The climb of a lifetime
Posted Thursday, August 2 2012 at 16:49
What you need to climb a mountain:
- Adopt a two-month exercise regime that increases in intensity as the climbing day nears.
- A medical check-up. Also carry bandages, ORS packs in case of bouts of diarrhoea, anti-allergies and any other medication you might be taking.
- Ensure you take at least two litres of water every day.
- Get warm waterproof puff jacket, thermal underwear, waterproof gloves, woollen hat and a good hiking bag.
- A good sleeping bag.
- Good climbing boots that rise high above the ankle and with big grooves to give you a grip while climbing over rocks.
Two weeks ago, I became part of the statistics of those who have climbed Mt Kenya as I joined more than 16,000 hikers, both local and foreign, who attempt to get to the peak of the mountain every year.
Although I have always wanted to climb this mountain, I never imagined I would do it in a group of seasoned climbers who were being drilled in order to choose the best among them to climb Mt Everest, the highest and toughest in the world.
“Together with the chosen candidate, I will attempt to reach the summit of Mt Everest in the spring of 2014 to raise Sh40 million for the construction of the Flying Kites Leadership Academy, a school and home for orphaned children in Njabini, in Kinangop” explained Toby Storie-Pugh, a professional climber and director of Everest Expedition.
“In addition to raising funds, we will also be setting an example to the children of Flying Kites that any goal is attainable if you dare to start and are determined to finish”.
The chosen candidate is also expected to spearhead a fundraising campaign for the next two years before making the attempt on Mt Everest in March 2014.
I was the “most amateur” in this group that comprised of Amanda Gicharu, a 26-year-old Google employee, Helen Kinuthia, a 25-year-old teacher at Hillcrest School, Steve Obbayi, a 38-year-old software engineer, Chris Mureithi, 51-year-old aeronautical engineer, and Mohamed Bharmal, a 31-year-old banker from Mombasa.
The expedition had no porters so everyone had to carry their tents and food rations besides their own luggage.
With our heavy backpacks, we started up the winding road from Sirimon Gate, our indulgence in the scenic mountainous abundance was only interrupted by a sudden shower that had everyone reaching for their rain gear.
I wasted precious minutes fumbling for my rain gear since I had kept it too deep in my bag, during which time I was soaked to the bone.
“Lesson number one in mountaineering is “always learn how to arrange your gear in the back pack,” advises Chris Mureithi, a veteran climber who has been to Point Batian 46 times.
Retaining heat is one of the principle survival skills in high attitude climbing hence getting wet in such cold conditions is the last thing that a mountaineer would want.
After three and a half hours of trekking, we eventually reached Old Moses Camp, the first stop for climbers using the Sirimon route to the peak. The camp is no more than an array of blue painted corrugated iron sheet structures forming a ‘U’ perched on a flat hilltop and swarming with porters and hikers.
Apart from the joy of freeing my shoulders from the heavy backpack, our kitchen team are at hand to serve us hot tea, the best meal to any soul at these freezing heights.
This was no ordinary mountain hike but a drill to separate the wheat from the chaff in the process of picking one tough Kenyan to fly the country’s flag up the Everest.