This is the story of how I climbed Mount Kenya - the second highest mountain in Africa, battled altitude sickness, broke all the limits I thought my body had, and experienced something that I will never forget.
Truly, many are mad, few are roaming, another few are climbing.
1. Preparing for a climb is hard work. I'll do a prep post soon. However, I didn't realise that my body was even capable of the difficulty it was about to face on Mt. Kenya. The mountain is 4,985m above sea level.
2. Of course, my go-to planning team was @TVPAdventures. There's nothing TVP can't plan in Africa- adrenaline adventures, beach vacations, nature excursions, corporate retreats and now- mountain expeditions. This climb was hosted in partnership with @Africa_Outdoors.
3. After visiting Kenya a dozen times, it was time to do something new. We already know that Kenya is easy to get to. Remember the map I created for ease of travel? Kenya was green. See the map here to refresh your mind -
4. If you missed the other amazing things to do in Kenya, here's that list.
5. So, we were picked up by our guides from Nairobi and driven to the base of the mountain. On the way, we stopped to buy souvenirs and to see the equator sign. Pretty cool. We passed by the line that cuts the world into North and South. Kudos to Kenya for marking this spot...
6. Later that day, we munched on sandwiches for lunch and started climbing. Day 1 was great. We enjoyed the view of the setting sun and even peeked on some wildlife. See how happy we were? We had no idea what was coming. After hiking for 5 hours, we got to Camp Old Moses.
7. We sat for dinner at Camp Old Moses. Our porters were amazing sha. After lifting all that load, they cooked dinner. The fish was 😚 and the cooked vegetables were a delight. The hot rice was perfect. Then of course, there was Kenyan tea and coffee! And plenty gist!
8. The next day, we were out and about by 7am. Breakfast was okay...it was very cold up there but our sleeping bags plus layers of clothing plus blankets kept us warm. We slept pretty comfortably...for the last time. Lol. Anyway, we set out early for Day 2.
9. Day two was tough. We climbed for a total of about 11 hours. The problem is...you can't stop anywhere. The cold is vile and apart from rest breaks, the only stop was under a set of caves for lunch. By now, we were eating for nourishment not for delight.
10. The view on Mount Kenya is incredible. The landscape is rocky with majestic plants and fresh streams spilling from it. The mountain is gorgeous. Towards the end of Day 2, you start to see the peak. It is encouraging but daunting at the same time.
11. By the time we got to Shipton Camp, we were exhausted. We ate and went to sleep. We needed to sleep early because the 3rd day began with a climb at 2am. The cold at Shipton was harsh...we slept at 4200m and that's no beans. I could hear myself breathe in my sleep.
12. At 2am on Summit Day, we were up and ready. The power nap from that night was helpful. I was ready...nothing could stop me. We all had pretty decent energy left and we kept our spirits alive and healthy. We climbed very slowly and in a straight line. Only 3-4 hours to go.
13. The air up here is so thin that the leader would climb for 10 steps and then take a break for us to deep-breathe. The landscape here is made of very loose, volcanic rocks. You fall. And stand. And fall again. We kept going with the moon and our head lamps as light.
14. Then, after about an hour of climbing. My guide noticed that I was losing balance and asked me if I had a headache or felt dizzy. I lied. I told him I didn't, even though I did. I knew that if I said I did, he would turn me around instantly. And I could smell the Summit.
15. After two tries, he yelled for another guide who was a trained medic. Before I could say "jack", the medic was there. He pointed his lamp into my eyes, smacked my chest a couple times and said the evil words "altitude sickness".
16. I insisted that I didn't have altitude sickness and that I was fine. They weren't having any of my foolish argument. "Don't argue about altitude sickness, Funmi. You'll be dead in 2 hours if you keep going. You have to go back." And then for effect, he repeated, "2 hours!"
17. I had a splitting headache, I felt light headed, I could barely stand and then as the village people would have It, I threw up all the water I had been drinking since 2am. At this point, the guide and medic started dragging me down.
18. I wept. I cried like a baby...with no inhibition or prettiness. I felt like I had come so far and yet the Summit was only about 600m away from me. I remembered my dad's words: "don't do anything dangerous." As they dragged me down from ~4550m to 4200m, I could only cry.
19. When we got down to Shipton Camp, they made a tea mix for me which didn't do much to warm my freezing hands but it warmed my body. The immediate remedy for altitude sickness is to go to a lower altitude. If I didn't look better in 30 mins, I would have to climb further down.
20. Thankfully, after some time, I was more stable and I could breathe better so I didn't have to rush down just yet. At about 9 or 10am, my people came back down from the Summit. Ladies and gentlemen, these are the true heroes...they fought to the end! I am so proud of them all.
22. But our woes were not over. After breakfast down at Shipton and a short nap, we had to climb all the way back to Old Moses. And this is where I believe we took on supernatural powers. Because somehow...against all odds...We did it!
23. By noon, we left Shipton Camp and got to Old Moses by 1030pm. That's 10.5 hours. And this doesn't account for the climb we did from 2am till we returned from the Summit o. Honestly, our bodies are amazing. Coming down was brutal!!! But we did it. We did it.
24. Friends, I have overcome. Mt Kenya was the single most brutal and challenging thing I have ever done so far. It was. And while there were moments of pain and complete heartbreak, I am thankful for the opportunity. I cannot wait to see what Kilimanjaro teaches me. I am happy.
25. A special thank you to Willy and his team at @Africa_Outdoors. In simple words, Asante Sana! Thank you to the climbing team at @TVPAdventures. Thank you to the superhuman porters and guides. Thank you. Thank you, Kenya. Thank you!
I will be climbing for a long time!
26. Thank you to the 2 guides who saved me from myself. Thank you for being observant when my body succumbed to altitude sickness. The feat I have achieved on this climb is a story worth telling. And that's why I have made this commitment to my body -
You can follow @funmioyatogun.
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