Traveller Stories: Adventure Mum Climbs Mt Kilimanjaro

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After Megan Seccull (also known as @theadventuremum) had an awesome experience trekking in the Andes in Peru with World Expeditions, it was time to take on another adventure…  So in January she took on Mt Kilimanjaro (Shira Route) with her 18 year old son Rayner. they both had an incredible experience shares her top three highlights – including the scenery, the excitement and achievement and bonding!

I am strong like a chicken! My Mt Kilimanjaro adventure…

Since our return we have been floating a few inches off the ground in pure elation of the adventure and now that it has sunk in, I am going to attempt to capture the essence of the trip in words.

Undisputed facts first:

  • Mt Kilimanjaro is a dormant volcano in Tanzania.
  • It is the highest free standing mountain in the world
  • The summit is 5895m
  • 35,000 people climb it each year
  • Success rate of getting to the summit is approx. 85%

And now for MY facts; hand on heart these facts are true, even though I have been accused in the past of embellishing a story.

  • The day we landed in Kilimanjaro it was well over 30 plus degrees IMG_5664with glorious sunshine.
  • 7 days later at the summit it was at least -5 to -10 degrees and a snow-storm.
  • From the crater rim, Stella Point, to the highest point, Uhuru Peak you have a mere 200 metres to walk and this takes nearly an hour, longer if you can’t walk in a straight line.
  • When you breathe at the summit you take in just 50% air that you would at the start of the trip.
  • It took 7 days to get to the summit and 8 hours to descend.
  • The distance walked over the 8 days is 84kms, not including acclimatisation walks on most days.
  • On summit night, the climb from base camp as the crow flies to the summit is just over 1km, but the trail zig zags up, so its 6km of hiking and this takes 7 hours to do.
  • 11 adventurers in our group and 49 Tanzanian awesome support staff

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Highlights

I like to quote these short, punchy and hopefully interesting facts when people enquire about our trip as I think it gives a really clear insight to the difficulty of hiking in a snow storm with very little oxygen without dragging the stories on and on. However for those who want to feel the essence of the trip, I am going to attempt to do it justice with three main highlights for me; the scenery, the emotion and the bonding.

1. The Scenery

On the ascent up the mountain, there were days that the terrain could best be described as rocky, sparse and elephant grey in colour as far as the eye can see. It could be argued that this would be what it would be like walking on the moon. Or perhaps a better description would be that if a dinosaur was to walk past it would not look out of place, as there was such a prehistoric feel to the mountain especially as the mist rolls in and out across the vastness of the landscape with very little vegetation. The stony ground and uneven surface made it very important to keep a keen eye trained on the path ahead to avoid any falls, the only danger in this is that the best view then becomes the person’s boots walking in front of you. Important to remind yourself to STOP and take in the scenery around you as it is quite spectacular in its sparseness, also a good opportunity to disguise a much needed break with an OMG this is amazing, comment.

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2. The Excitement and AchievementDSCN2110

The entire trip is a build-up of anticipation, excitement and nervousness about the end goal – The Summit!
As each day of hiking drew closer to the finale of the trip, the very reason that we all came here, the conversation and banter always seems to end up focusing on the final ascent. The Tanzanian Sherpas are amazing; they make everything and everyone feel so much better with their confidence that we will all make it to the top. One of these amazing men was King James.

He turned the seriousness of a potential fall off the mountain, on an unexpected rock climbing expedition, into laughter when he said; “Megan, you are strong like a chicken” as I was clinging for dear life, hugging the rock face, aptly named kissing rock. Probably not the kind of words that would inspire you to greatness but it made me laugh at a time that I needed it.

Arriving at base came by lunch time on Day 7, we were sent to bed for the afternoon to rest all the while the apprehension of the climb was hanging in the air making resting difficult. An early dinner and then back to bed till the call comes at 11.00pm that it was time to get up and ready yourself for the final climb. The compulsory head torches of the hikers before us ascending the mountain made it come alive, like a beautiful night sky filled with stars, an image that will permanently be imprinted in my memory. Personally anything that is hard work both physically and mentally and has an element of that fear of failure, makes the victory that much sweeter. The sense of accomplishment that we felt at the summit is the best feeling in the world and the tears of joy that flowed are definitely the sweetest kind of tears.

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3. Bonding

Finally, the single best overall moment for me was nothing more than a glance and connection captured in a very brief moment. Our group was assembled for the final climb with faster walkers at the back and the slower at the front, meaning that Rayner and I were spilt up. Our African guides sung in beautiful harmony their traditional songs alongside us as we climbed, to both distract us from the struggle of the hike and to create an ambience and mood that will stay forever. As we put one foot in front of the other in the dark, on a very rocky, thin trail that zigged and zagged blindly upwards, I happened to glance down at the same time that Rayner looked up, an uncanny coincidence, his head torch shone on his face as he gave me the thumbs up and he smiled, a smile that came from deep inside him, no words were needed but a million things were said in that magical moment that we shared. Of course I cried!

I believe the strongest bonds are forged by shared adventure and overcoming challenges together fostering mutual respect and admiration between a mother and child. Please like my Adventure Mum Facebook page or read about the other adventures I have with my other children at www.adventuremum.com.au, as I would love other parents experience the joy that comes from having adventures with your kids.

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Mt Kilimanjaro with World Expeditions

World Expeditions offers two Mt Kilimanjaro routes including the remote Shira Route and the Rongai Route. Approaching the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro by the remote Shira Route is an exhilarating option for walkers keen to explore less trodden trails and who are comfortable in variable mountain conditions. The Rongai Route begins in attractive farmland and delightful forest, with the opportunity for viewing black and white colobus monkeys, and passes through several different climate zones and unspoiled wilderness.

Find out more about Kilimanjaro with World Expeditions

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