Mount Kilamanjiro

Mount Kilamanjiro

Mount Kilimanjaro Challenge

Sunday 7 February 2016

My Mount. Kilimanjaro challenge posted together for the first time - first year anniversary of epic climb.

I went, I climbed and I conquered!


       Mount Kilimanjaro February 6th 2015!

How are we all doing? I am floating somewhere out there in the universe as I am still absorbing the fact I climbed and conquered Mount.Kilimanjaro! I can't stop smiling ....I feel so very proud of myself and so incredibly proud and happy for Ali Smith and Becky two intrepid pals and climbing buddies......well done on the fundraising for Cancer research girls too!

What an amazing time we three have had, we have laughed and ribbed each other constantly the whole trip....and we have had anyone whose come into contact with us laughing and smiling too. I would call that a massive victory for all of us. The bonge amigos lived it large! Looking forward to our next adventure in the future!

There will be a series of posts over the next week or two that will tell more of our epic adventure, hopefully you won't all be bored to death with it!

I did manage a couple of the promised video blog diary entries and although it will seem strange, I will do some more from home. It was really quite difficult to do them to be honest.....probably more to do with the fact I was too shy to just set up and do where ever I was!  It was difficult to find time after a long hard day of climbing, to find a quiet spot that made me slightly less self conscious    ( but not much!! )...and in some cases not enough light available. Within a couple of days the idea of getting set up didn't cross my mind and then there was the days of suffering with high altitude in theory it was a grand idea - in practice not so like I said I'm going to try force myself to do some at home, I'll apologise now, me in front of the camera is not  good've been warned !

Our summit selfie! seems a good place to start.....joking! this was the end result of the most amazing time on Mount.Kilimanjaro, it was unbelievably hard and for both Bec's and I a rough time with differing symptoms of altitude sickness to contend with as well. Ali was so very lucky and didn't suffer with it at all. Although she thinks we were better off as Chacha and George carried Bec's and I's day packs to the summit and down for us!

Before I get into the actual writings of the epic adventure and climb - I thought I would spend time on this first post telling you about the company we used for both the climb and safari.  - check the link.

Wild Secret safaris - an amazing company where you the client and your needs are foremost and nothing is too much trouble. Mussa Gora will take great care of you and your parties needs. I cannot recommend them highly enough!

I did all my dealing via email with Mussa who came back to me promptly and was always the professional. He made our trip planning so stress free and took on more than he needed to to ensure we had a fantastic trip that ran so very smoothly. We booked our climb, our safari and all our hotels while in the UK and we stayed in four different hotels over our stay! Nothing is too much trouble for Wild Secret and I can't tell you how much we appreciated all Mussa did. Above and beyond without a doubt.

Regarding the climb make sure you book Philemon Chacha and his crew. They are simply the best, they will keep you motivated throughout the climb, they sang every morning and had us up and joining in, a superb way to shake off the chill from the night, warm up your muscles ready to face the days strenuous climb. Don't think of using any other crew - you want the best? look no further.

We three girls wouldn't use any other company and if you are going to Tanzania to climb Mount Kilimanjaro or Mount Meru you know who to book with.

Wild Secret offer many safari packages and whichever you choose, know that you will be with the professionals.

Bec's, Ali and I really can't recommend them enough. Thank you guys for making sure our epic adventure was amazing and so stress free and so very memorable!

Over the next few posts I'll tell you of our epic climb adventure from the forest trail to climbing the great Barranco wall at 14,928ft....a definite eye opener!!, our major acclimatization day at the lava tower at 4600m,  to the summit and the trail back down to the finish at Mweka gate. About the singing with the crew in a morning and falling into the tent on a night! Of our continuous laughing, the friendly insults that started from our eyes opening to the altitude sickness that hit three of the four of us!

Our most amazing day shopping for and visiting Osiligi orphanage - and the fun we had with the kids - a truly humbling but most rewarding day for sure. Of our three days of adventure on our safari trip, the animals we were so lucky to see and in most cases get photos of. The most wonderful friends we made on our trip and our sadness at leaving and struggling to settle back in to life in the UK. The two day journey both ways and our crack us up captain on one of the flights that had us giggling and singing like deranged kids!!

I have definitely left a piece of my heart in Tanzania where I felt I had known it forever and not as a visitor in a foreign land - Mussa, Alphonce,Chacha and George made me and the girls so welcome we really didn't feel like strangers visiting at all.....and to that I am so grateful, so relaxed and chilled out, a truly amazing adventure and hopefully will not be too long before visiting again.

There will be photos to accompany the stories so you get to see what I'm trying to describe to you....well in most cases!

I really hope you enjoy my account of my challenge of climbing Mount.Kilimanjaro and I will chat to both Bec's and Ali and ask them what they personally thought of the whole adventure and write their thoughts and feelings in one of the posts.

I have finally caught up mostly with my travel journal and now its just a case of the odd story my Jelly brain forgot! And the most heart melting message my little buddy Molly wrote for me to take with me up the mountain that I read all the made me smile so much, thanks crazy kid I love it!!


I find myself in almost constantly in a state of surreal surprise - it's still sinking in exactly what I've done and achieved this month! it even feels funny saying that....I went, I climbed and I conquered Mount.Kilimanjaro this month!!! February 6th 2015!

I find I can't stop looking at the photo above, I have made it my new profile picture on FB. I seriously cannot stop looking at it, not because I'm vain ( everyone who knows me will be laughing so hard at that, I barely remember to do something with my hair in a morning!! ) but because I look and feel myself transported back to that moment. I remember resting and trying to catch my breath, trying to steady the dizziness and the feeling of been light headed with dodgy balance and not fully in control of my body. Trying not to move my eyes too fast and set them off rolling in the sockets!.....of feeling even in rest mode my hamstrings and calves on full stretch because it's so steep......and I remember lifting my head slowly up and up until I could see the horizon and where the summit lay, and thinking....this has been one hell of a climb! - that photo captures all of that so very clearly I think.

And the feelings, all the memories slowly surfacing from somewhere in my memory and it feels amazing, it feels like I'm reliving it all over again, but this time the memories are staying clearer. The more it sinks in the more incredibly proud I feel of my achievement - I find I'm filling up and smiling at the same time. I found myself on this epic adventure, a version of me that was lost for so long through diagnosis, treatments and subsequent illnesses and problems.....a version of me I don't want to lose again.

I set this challenge way back when I was in hospital trying to come to terms with having my chemo cut short because of the pneumonia and collapsed lung, it was my way to motivate myself back....and as the years carried on and the delays kept happening for this challenge due to the ongoing health issues I was became everything to was for me the way to prove I could make it back after a very rough and frustrating few years of complications caused by my cancer and the treatments - and I did exactly that!

I have shown that even though I am surviving cancer - it is only a small portion of the essence that's me....I don't and have never allowed it to dictate my life and actions.....and hopefully others will see it doesn't have to for them either.

I have proved in the most positive of ways to anyone having a difficult time what I've always said - nothing is impossible if you want it enough.....we can all set our own version of Everest, work hard for it and revel in the feeling of achievement when you conquer your personal challenge.

I hope you go out and set yourself a challenge or two and I wish you all the very best of luck in conquering them! 

I've not really thought what I'll be next setting for myself - I'm going to take my time and really absorb my success and the enormity of what I've actually done first!

So the next post will get into the climb adventure, I hope you look forward to it as much as I'm looking forward to telling you about it.

And to Molly - my best little bud.....I said I'd do it and I did - this was for both you and I....l love you crazy kid! xx

Until next time


Mount.Kilimanjaro one hell of a climb!

Hi everyone

This adventure, my challenge I set way back in 2010...this enormous challenge to climb to the summit of Mount. was finally here, I was so excited on the build up that I didn't sleep for three days before we actually flew! I actually would shake with excitement and anticipation and smile! on man I would break out into the biggest face splitting smile every time my mind thought Kilimanjaro.....I was after so many frustrating years actually going to be getting on that plane to Tanzania and my mountain challenge was on! And now looking back - I still struggle to believe what I've actually accomplished. I have stood on the "Roof of Africa".....amazing and unbelievable.

Friday January 30th - 13.55pm and we were on the plane to Doha airport in Qatar....the first leg of our journey. Suzie had driven Bec's and I to Manchester where we met Ali. And from that moment we girls started with the ribbing,laughing and joking.....this carried on for the whole trip. We landed at Doha 11.50pm local time and then had over seven hours to kill before our connecting flight to Kilimanjaro. The airport is out of this world, the shops were designer, but we found a great cafe with wonderfully comfy seating and a gorgeous hummus to boot! We got on our second plane and with great excitement set off for Moshi and the challenge of a lifetime! We didn't know until the flight had been under way for a fair old time ( it was an eight hour flight ) that we would be stopping at Dar Es Salaam first to drop off passengers. We were to stay on the plane for the hour it would take to get them and their luggage off. Then we were back in the air and onto our destination JRO international airport.

The airport from the outside actually looked like someone's bungalow! - it had what looked like well kept gardens!


Boy we nearly passed out when we got off the plane and walked to the airport building. It was around minus 2/3C when we had left the UK and here we was landing Saturday January 31st at 15.25pm to temps of 34C.....mental I tell you!

We were through the airport in good time and was met on the other side by Mussa our wonderful host from Wild Secret Safaris. And we were loaded and on our way to the Keys Hotel in Moshi for our overnight stay before the climb. We got booked in and taken to our rooms - which were little round huts, loved them...simple but great! We then went to a meeting to meet our head guide, chat about our next eight days on the mountain and to have our kit checked out.

The meeting went well and our kit passed muster as it were. Chacha, Mussa and Alphonce left us to get some food etc and said they'd see us at 7.00am to load up and set off.

We grabbed some food and called it a night....we had two rooms between us and said we would rota through so we all got a night on our own unless it was a triple.

07.00am arrives and we happily had breakfast, sorted out with reception for them to store our suitcases until our return and loaded our gear into the van. All we needed now was a photo before we set off and we were ready to hit the mountain!!

Ali and Bec's were full of beans and raring to get this climb going on lol.....we had to travel to Londorossi Gate which was about two hours drive away to register and get all the kit weighed. It was really exciting and Dom an Italian who they'd asked could join our climb was ready to crack on too.

A dreaded selfie and we were in the van and finally on the move - watch out Mount.Kilimanjaro we are coming to get you!!!!

Sunflowers - or more accurately....sunflower crops! I'd never thought of sunflower crops but as soon as I saw the fields of them it clicked and made sense. I was mesmerized by them to be honest, these beautiful and magnificent flowers standing so tall and proud facing the sun! I never actually got a picture.....something I regret but it was fascinating to see them. I like so many of you will have only thought of maybe a couple together growing not hundreds in one place. I couldn't stop looking at them every time we passed a crop, I found it so simple and so very beautiful.


On the way to Londorossi gate we had a puncture hardly surprising if you saw the potholes and deep ruts in the dirt roads. Our climb crew of porters, chef etc passed us in their van while they boys were changing the tyre. When we were back on the road we came upon our crew who had broken down big time in the middle of the road. After Mussa and co chatted with them we were off on route to the gate. They explained they needed to organise the crew and gear to be picked up and brought to the gate for weighing and would do so when we arrived there.

We went and sat in the shaded area with a packed lunch while the guys organised for another company to go get our crew.Firstly they were going to drop their own crew off at the gate to have everything weighed, while that was happening they would go collect our crew and bring them to the gate for the same weighing in process. They would take their own crew to the start point in the Lemosho glades and come back to collect our crew and take them to the start point.......well organised so far away from the town, it was just going to take some time to do that's all.

We were just chilling and chatting among ourselves and with Mussa, Chacha and Alphonce....the time passed quickly and then we were ready to be on our way. Chacha asked if we had our headtorches in our daypacks because we had a 3-4 hour climb ahead of us and it was after 15.00pm now. We checked and in most cases got out of our big packs ( we hadn't expected to need them today ) and we were off for an approx drive of 45 mins through a forest to the Lemosho glades and the true start of our epic climb of Mount.Kilimanjaro....we were completely buzzing, I again was shaking with was here, and for all those doubters, I was here and I was about to embark on an experience most will never have in their lifetime. I was here and fit enough to be climbing, I had no matter what proved the doubters wrong! Should never underestimate me and my determination that's for sure.

We were out of the van, smiling at our crew who we would gt to know over the next few days and then we were off on the first days climb through the forest. We were climbing up to Mti Mkubwa camp and would be staying there overnight. Overall the climb wasn't too bad, we managed to do some chatting and laughing on route. There were a few steep climbs that had me completely breathless and I did think on one of them, oh boy this looks like it's gonna be really tough especially with the scarring on my lung!

Chacha had said before we even left Moshi the rules of Kilimanjaro are simple. In Swahili it's a saying Pole pole Kilimanjaro which translates into slowly slowly is so true, you aren't going to succeed on the mountain any other way. He went in front to dictate the pace which was a lot steadier than we had been attempting at this height, it wasn't the altitude that was causing most of the problems but the heat. It was in the low 30's C and it was having an affect on us, especially me on this our first climb. Pole pole definitely worked. We made it to camp just as it was getting dark, so no torches needed. Chacha was happy with us, we'd done the first days climb in two hours instead of the 3/4 hours. 

We were definitely happy bunnies and very happily signed in with the officials at the camp.Our names are forever in the records of climbers of Mount.Kilimanjaro - something I'm very proud to say!

We went to the tents of which there was a single and a two man. Ali got the single this night and Bec's & I shared. We put out our sleeping bags, made sure the tent was zipped up ( don't want any unwanted visitors from the forest!! ) and went to the mess tent for our first camp meal. We started with soup - cucumber soup made by our cook was bloody delicious! Enjoyed our meal, had a cup of Yorkshire tea ( of course I took some teabags with me!! ) and got Dom the Italian coffee drinker on them and Chacha our head guide..... one cup and I'd converted them to the nectar that is Yorkshire tea. My job was done for the day ha!!

An amazing first day walking in the forest and of course all the excitement of the puncture and breakdown before that. We happily chatted about our first day, the adventure and what was still to come. We knew day two was going to be around eight hours of climbing, so a big day ahead. We all called it a night around 20.00pm. We were getting a knock ( if that's possible on a tent ) at it was time to try sleep with the sounds of the forest and everything that was buzzing in my head. I still hadn't stopped smiling at this time....well apart from my first visit to the open at one end wooden structure with a hole in the ground. It wasn't the squatting that bothered me I've done that before in was the rank smell, these things outside....leave a lot to be desired, but it was what it was!

Until next time

Mountain Day Two…..

Jambo everyone!

I hope you are all enjoying your weekend!....the weather has been great here in Yorkshire, the suns been shining and you can feel spring in the air!

Our second day saw us leave Mti kubwa camp in the forest and set off for Shira camp 1. This was a full days trek with an altitude gain of 2000ft. Not too long into the trek would see us leave the forest and into the giant moorland zone.

Before we set off the crew did a song for us- wow, all I can say is wow! it was amazing, great fun and really upbeat. We were all stood grinning from ear to ear as we picked up a couple of words and tried to join in. We danced and everything. What a fantastic way to start the day! We were full beans and felt really honoured with our crew. None of the other climb crews did that with their groups. We felt very special!

We were about to go when Chacha pointed out a Blue monkey in the is also known as the sky monkey. It had an injured back leg and was roaming around the camp looking for dropped bits of food. It was in no way phased by all the people in camp. It just did it's own thing.



We had managed to make it through the night without any unwanted visitors in the tent - even after bathroom visits in the early hours of the morning! It wasn't a great nights sleep for any of us, the moon was really bright at one point, I actually thought it was near was about two am! Experiencing the loo ( hole in the ground in the dark with a tiny torch wasn't anyone's idea of fun I can tell you )

So we got ready to leave our forest camp, quite a few of the groups had set off for the full days trek already. We were cool and relaxed and ready to start our day in earnest. Goodbye camp! Got a happy smiling Bec's photo, she's ready to crack on for the day.



We set off on our first full days trek. It was going to be tough with some very steep climbs ahead of us before we headed down to the Shira plateau and our next camp for the night. It was a really hot day and the sun was out in this was going to add to our discomfort as we hadn't had chance to acclimatise to the heat yet.

Some of the climbs were really steep - George our assistant guide was setting our pace and thankfully we were on with our Pole pole Kilimanjaro. Just as well I don't think any of us would have made it otherwise. As we left the forest behind and entered the moorland zone, the difference was amazing. We kept climbing a strenuous climb and would catch our breath at the top...we were constantly criss-crossing with other groups, so there was plenty of good natured banter and lots of joyful shouts of Jambo!

The going was really tough, especially with the heat! Man! physically drained and zapped your energy quickly. I was having problems with an intermittent pain in my right lung, when we were climbing the steep inclines it was bothering me. But I recovered really quickly when we leveled out or stop for a minute that made me feel good. George was brilliant - Hakuna matata he worries! pole pole hakuna matata - this was our mantra the whole eight days on the majestic and magnificent Mount.Kilimanjaro. We were so lucky to have two fantastic guides with us.Chacha & George...we wouldn't have made it without these guys and of course the other 14 members of our crew. The most amazing set of lads without a doubt!

Ali was having a tough day - it wasn't the steep inclines....well no more than any of us were struggling with was the heat. It was really causing her problems and made her feel drained. We were all talking lots of encouragement, we were a team and we knew we were all gonna have a day that was really hard, a day where you hit your wall as it were. Today was Ali's, but she kept on, never a question of her not of course. We were glad for a break when lunch was called!! We were at around 10,000ft now.

We got settled for lunch and more importantly more fluids on board - I don't ever struggle with my fluid intake, I drink a major amount even back home. The girls and Dom weren't doing very well with the drinking and Chacha and George were reminding them a lot to drink more. We sat having lunch while watching a couple of white necked ravens having a bit of a spat....sorting out the pecking order if there were going to be any food about for them to get! beautiful looking birds....saw them quite a lot actually where ever people gathered to eat....bit like the pigeons back in the UK.


Our view from our lunch table as it were! - pretty spectacular I'm sure you agree, we were just outside the Shira crater here.....a very beautiful place to stop and enjoy our picnic lunch! It's difficult to explain how you feel sitting there looking out over views like this, it really does feel quite surreal, like you're not really there much to absorb!

We set off after lunch on what was a particular gruelling climb, it was long, hard and really steep, we were all feeling it, my breath was a little laboured, but was still keeping the pace. George said to us another 20 minutes and we'd be at the on we went pole pole Kilimanjaro. We made it up and then we hugged and fistbumped, congratulations were given out enthusiatically , Chacha came to me and said you are a really strong woman. I felt overwhelmed and proud to be honest, ha ha, the praise made me feel really good I have to say!

We had a ten minute break and believe it or not we were all recovered and ready to go on, we were now making our way down to the plateau and camp. We'd been walking for some hours now but we were still full of beans and definitely loving every minute if it. What a trip, what a mountain, this so far had surpassed everything I imagined it to be, I knew nothing about this would disappoint me, it wasn't going to be possible. 

We stopped for a break not far from camp - I filled up with tears, this was our first view of the summit, it was actually Kibo in all it's glory. Sitting majestically in front of me the thing I've concentrated on for four years,shrouded in clouds was the object that I had concentrated all my determination and motivation into....the thing I had used to get me on the very long road to recovery, the thing I said all along, I will conquer Kilimanjaro.....and here was my first look at it properly, so yes I filled up. I was emotionally a bit of a wreck ha ha, but got myself under control.

We got to camp and I was sat in the tent after nearly falling head first into as I tripped over the guide ropes much to Bec's amusement, she was laughing that hard I thought she was going to pee herself -  ( did I tell you I'm very clumsy hee hee! ) it was before our evening meal and my face was splitting with a smile that was almost a permanent feature by now and the thoughts and words on a loop in my head were....I'm on Kili, I'm on kili.....over and over and all the time I'm sat grinning like a mad fool. And do you know what???? I didn't care!!!!!

We were here, we were on the mountain, I was sleeping on my mountain!...I was going to conquer Kili and I was going to have the adventure of a lifetime, a wonderful million memory making epic adventure, it was already in the making.

Mountain day two - completed....BOOM!!!

Until next time

Mountain Day Three……

Jambo  everyone

Hope you are all well. It's been nice out this week - really feels like spring is in the air at last. Seems to have been a really long winter this time, I think maybe because of all the snow? Anyway I saw some beautiful wild daffodils today - made me smile, love that spring is finally getting here! - so the crocus's and daffodils are shooting up and we all feel much brighter and happier to see a swath of colours appearing in gardens and parks around us, especially after the months of grey winter we've endured.


It's been an average 7c this week, and when the sun's been shining I've had the jacket off and been walking in just a T shirt. It's been a really pleasant change.

Onto the climb!

Mountain day three - Feb 3rd. Shira camp 1 to Shira camp 2 - 1000ft increase in elevation.

Today was going to be one of our easiest days climb as in it was us continuing across the plateau to   Shira camp 2. Believe it or not even though the terrain was flatter it took us four hours to climb a thousand feet. It was a really amazing day out on the mountain, we had lots of chatting and laughing along the's much easier to converse when not climbing ridiculously steep inclines, must because we weren't struggling for breath! Chacha and George are great guys, great guides and great fun to be around. The whole crew all contribute to making this climb so special.

We started our day as always after breakfast with our songs - the crew really enjoy this part of the day, you can tell by the enthusiasm while singing and dancing. We were singing along, we had learned most of the words to the Jambo song now. It's hard to put into words how much it energizes you to sing this song with the boys. It definitely warms you up after the chill of night under canvas on the mountain. It was getting colder on a night, obviously as we were climbing higher. We simply had the best gang of lads, always smiling, encouraging, laughing and congratulating....what more could we want or ask for? All the guys together in photo below.


We were now in the alpine forest, this was our third eco-system in as many days. It's hard to believe such diversity over the three days, it was really nice in the alpine forest. It's like nothing I've experienced before, hard to believe it's all on the same mountain.

We have so far walked in the Lemosho glades ( Forrest ), the moorland and now our third day in the alpine forest.




The plan was after reaching camp and chilling for a while to recover we would go for a walk for about ninety minutes, climbing higher to help with our acclimatization, I was on and off feeling some effects from the altitude, albeit fairly mild at the moment, they were definitely there. Light-headed, dull headache, slight balance's strange because my balance issues are taking  me off to the right ( had to be didn't it! - my weakest ankle after fully rupturing my anterior talofibular ligament ) and Bec's had her off to the left! So that's where we would be heading after a rest - up higher on the mountain.

It really was a great walk, it was nice to be able to really absorb our surroundings, to stop have a rest, we weren't in a hurry to reach camp, chat and of course laugh. We were learning more about Chacha and George and they about us. Although it was more sedate regarding steepness it was still tough. I think a lot of this is the tiredness, a symptom of the altitude and lack of calories. Wasn't particularly eating well but my fluid intake was absolutely fine. The pain in my right lung was bothersome today, it never really eased off and maybe that's why I thought it was still a bit of a tough walk. It is paining me when I take a breath in, hoping it goes away. I've been taking some antibiotics Bec's brought with her, hopefully they'll do the trick.

We were nearly at the camp and had to climb a boulder wall ( really wish I'd taken photos of it! ) I followed Chacha up the wall and it was definitely my own fault....I had my walking poles in the wrong hand as I went for the final bit of the climb to the top.....I caught the toes of my left foot just under the ridge and went spectacularly over the top head first, Ali shouted as I went, I managed to flip myself over mid air as I was falling.

Cha cha's eyes were like dinner plates, that was all I could see and the blue sky, I'm now sliding down an incline, Ali's shouting "bloody hell Tracy!"...."I'm okay" I shout back as I'm still sliding to who knows where?!!!!  I finally come to a stop, luckily my backpack had taken the brunt of it as I flipped and slid down. Ali's saying ...."Tracy you're shouting I'm okay to me and you were still sliding down the rocks at the time, you didn't even know where you were going!" 

I'm up on my feet with a concerned Chacha checking me over, we are grinning and laughing by now. Bec's said "you okay?" I answered yes so she started giggling. She said the only thing she saw because she was behind Ali was the bottom of my hikers and how they turned mid air as I flipped myself over!  I've battered myself up a bit but it didn't even hurt to be honest....although it did later on. The initial assessment showed I'd got grazes above and below my elbow on my right arm with bruises with both that were about three inches in length. My left shin had a graze and a bruise coming up the size of my hand and my right leg had an egg come up on my shin and was looking like most of it was going to bruise ( it turned out later that it was bruised from knee to ankle ). I didn't notice until we were signing in at camp but  my knee and had a flap of skin loose, it was bleeding a bit. I was joking saying I didn't want to clean it because it had Kilimanjaro dirt in it and I wanted to take it home with me!   

When I later went to lay down I realized I'd obviously caught above my left butt cheek and lower back, I was okay unless I touched the bruises. Just glad I managed to maneuver myself and not crash my head into the rocks. 

I was scored an 8 for style and a 9 for execution! - so with such high scores it meant I didn't have to go repeat in the hope of upping my score!!!   

So after we had chilled we set off on our climb higher up the mountain for our acclimatization, we didn't take our poles with us and scrambled between the rocks. It was a good climb and I was happy because I didn't feel light-headed and my headache was gone. We came to a stop and stayed there about 20 minutes. A couple of the lads from the crew had decided to come with us on our little walk which was really nice.





Today I saw my first senecio tree, I love nature but do have a fascination about trees. I was really pleased to see them, they only grow over 3000m.....crazy!!

We slowly headed back to camp, our walk had done what was needed. Right behind our camp above the line of rocks was the summit of Kilimanjaro, today it was shrouded in the clouds, I hoped it would break tomorrow before we left camp. I really wanted to get a photo, boy we were getting closer! 

I experienced my first Kilimanjaro express today - OMG that was grim!!!....The Kilimanjaro express is the runs to which you get no warning whatsoever. No griping pains, no buggy feeling. I didn't have the express but unfortunately for me - walked into one of the toilets in camp when someone had got it! I think I need therapy to get over it....they poor soul had exploded and I mean exploded all over the place. The walls the floor, they must have wanted to cry if they didn't actually!!! I opened the door and then threw myself back out - OMFG the smell, the sight hit me, me stomach immediately rolled and clenched....I nearly knocked myself out on the door jamb trying to get away from it. I wanted to bleach my eyes seriously....the grimmest thing I've ever had the misfortune to see and experience! I don't ever want to see that again!

I find myself with an almost permanent smile on my face, I feel so at peace and tranquil out here on the mountain. It's everything I imagined and so much more. I know as I always did, somewhere in my subconscious that I was meant to do this, this my personal Everest. Who'd have thought I could be more relaxed and at peace than I am at home.

Next time we climb up to the Lava Tower - the most important day regarding acclimatization at 4600m.

Until next time

Day Four Mountain Climb – Beyond excited – Lava tower at 4600m today! 

Hello everyone

Hope you are enjoying the new Spring season - the weather was glorious here today, mild even though it was 5c....I spent the day out in shorts and a T shirt, did get some funny looks as I passed people who had coats and hats on still! - I stopped and took five minutes to watch the little lambs playing and bounding around....full of life and wonder. Was beautiful to see!





So before I take you back to the mountain for day four of our epic climb I want to catch you up on other things first. I went to see my consultant this evening for the results from my Dorsal spine MRI - for those who didn't know or hadn't read about it, my consultant thought the pain in my left side was possibly originating from my spine......the dorsal section to be precise and after already have bloods, a colostomy, CT scans etc done, he booked an MRI to check out his theory.

So results time, the MRI hasn't shown up anything that could be causing my pain so this rules out a trapped nerve new or old or on a really positive note nothing sinister on or around my spine. However this means we are no closer after three years to pinpointing the cause of the pain and this also means I am to be referred to the chronic pain clinic.

I feel so frustrated that the cause couldn't be found - afterall if you find the cause there's a greater chance you can sort it out!  I have very mixed feelings about the referral, I definitely won't be taking painkillers if that's what they offer, but I've been told they do many other things to help elleviate the pain , such as specific exercises, acupuncture etc. So although I have no idea how long it's going to take for the referral to happen I will keep an open mind and at least go see what they have to say.   So three years on - I actually don't feel any closer to a solution to leave me feeling pain free, but hey never say never - it can still happen and to be fair I've had the issue for so long....what's more time! So when I get an appointment I will of course let you know.

Mountain day four - February 4th. Shira camp 2 12,598ft - Barranco camp 14,928ft.

I know I won't have spelled this song correctly - I actually wrote it as it sounds so we found it easier to learn! here are the words to one of the songs the crew sang every morning, we learned the words so we could join in! So here you go....By the way I still sing it every morning on my on!


Jambo bwana
Habari gani
Zuri sana
Mwa kari bishwa ( Yipoo )
Hakuna matata

How cool is that! - I have to tell you hearing and saying in normal conversation in the correct context Hakuna matata was absolutely amazing!

This song is so upbeat, we all, including all the crew loved singing this every morning - a great way to get rid of the chill from the night on the mountain, warm the muscles up and prep us for the days climbing ahead. Loved all the singing and dancing in a morning. So lucky our crew wanted to do this all the time, some of the crews only did on the last day!!

As I said this is a major day on the mountain, it is our big acclimatization day, intended to help us with what will be a few tough days at high altitude. We would be climbing up to 4600m and having lunch at the lava tower before making our way down the very steep descent to Barranco camp in the Barranco valley for the night.

So day four on the mountain was the first climb high- sleep low - intended to acclimatize us in preparation for the summit ascent. It would also show us if we were going to suffer any altitude sickness symptoms. So yes a very big day for our little group of intrepid climbers.

 I had been looking forward to this for so long!  - I was going to finally get up close and personal with the Lava tower. The tower is a volcanic plug that rises up 300ft into the air. The volcanic plug would have occurred an age ago when lava was shot up through a vent at the base of where tower now stands, cooled and hardened thus blocking the vent. So far this "cork" which can build pressure in the volcano below hasn't woken Mount.Kilimanjaro up! The Lava tower is in the alpine forest - sadly earlier this year a ban was placed on climbing the tower because of safety concerns. But at least I could still experience the majesty of this volcanic plug! The last major eruption on Kilimanjaro was around 150,000 years ago, although some activity was recorded 200 years ago.


Wow what a day it was going to be - I hadn't slept the night before, and I have to say the lack of sleep and sleeping issues were definitely the hardest part of the trip - well that and the climbing lol!

We set off after breakfast and our singing and dancing to the Lava tower and our climb up to 4600m, none of us in the group had ever climbed this high, but in fairness we three girls were setting new daily highs and had been for a couple of days. And at 4600m we would be if on Mount. Meru the mountain you can see from Kilimanjaro, the summit!

We were walking uphill at a fairly steady incline, it wasn't uphill and down dale like we had walked, but it was continuous. As we carried on walking I could see higher up on the horizon what I knew straight away could only be the Lava tower and asked Chacha if that was the case. He responded and said yes it was indeed the Lava tower . Even from this distance I could see how impressive a rock formation it was. It was huge! And after all the time I'd read about it and looked at photos of it, it doesn't prepare you for how majestic it looked on the skyline!

I think the biggest potential worry for me as we continued walking was that we wouldn't see it properly as the clouds kept closing in around it....I really wanted to be able to get at least a couple of clear shots of it all and not just the bottom part because of the cloud cover. So it was a case of fingers crossed as we slowly climbed higher and closer to our lunch destination.


It showed how massive the Lava tower is when we could see it  from such a distance and it took an absolute age to reach it. On route we passed this sign post, I can tell you we were all really excited to see this. It's weird how the smallest of things like this - bring the greatest of pleasure. We were really close to our destination of the tower, I had noticed my nose was bleeding, I didn't expect that, we were at an elevation of around 4200/4300m. 

I had noticed a while earlier I was suffering with obviously High Altitude symptoms. I had a terrible headache, it came and went in waves, but the intensity of it was bad!, I was having balance issues, I keep losing my balance and staggering off to the right ( it was sod's law that I would favour falling off to my right, my weakest ankle after rupturing my Anterior Talofibular ligament, so I had nothing to stop my ankle giving way.....but in fairness, nothing was going to stop it even if my ankle wasn't weakened from an old injury  ). I also felt a tad nauseous. So not altogether fantastic in myself. I wasn't on my own suffering with the altitude symptoms , Bec's was the same, we were laughing at the fact she favoured falling off to the left. Every now and then I'd hear...oh,oh,oh as Bec's staggered off while trying to regain her balance. At this elevation we were able to regain our balance, this was helped by the sparceness of the rocks in the alpine forest. She also was suffering with a headache and agreed it was definitely not the best feeling at all! Dom's balance was okay, but again he was suffering with a headache. The only one of us that was fine was Ali - she was displaying no symptoms whatsoever ......lucky lass!!




You can see the path on the left of the photos, the little sandy looking line. What it doesn't show is the incline properly near the tower base. That was a tough climb up at this elevation, breathing was tough as we exerted ourselves. When we finally crested the ridge at the base, we were all lathered and out of breath. I will say our recovery was really fast. As we all started congratulating each other with fist bumps and hugs, I felt a bit overwhelmed when George our guide who is the epitome of cool gave me a massive hug while saying "You are a very strong woman, well done Tracy", this was repeated when I hugged Chacha. George had set our Pole pole Kilimanjaro pace again for us's slow, small steps and it really is all about the rhythm!

We followed Chacha to an area of rocks to sit and have our pack lunches, there we a fair few other trekkers about, the most we had seen on our trip so far. But the area is so big we could all have a place to perch. I really wasn't feeling hungry, Bec's ( She was like our chemist! )  passed some headache tablets and said it's time for some more Tracy. I took them and sat down closing my eyes. My head was absolutely pounding and all I could hear was the blood rushing through my head. It was literally pulsing in time with my heartbeat. Chacha was encouraging us all to eat our lunches, I managed a little food and said I needed to go to the bathroom. Chacha told me there were behind a huge wall of boulders.

I set off to walk over to the wall and round it to the toilets. I didn't take my poles with me, I was all over the place, really light-headed, I must have looked really drunk, completely off my head. I couldn't control my feet properly and I sure as hell couldn't control my direction! I finally made it around the boulders and saw a line of toilets. I was so light-headed just from walking over, it was crazy! I walked into the open end of the toilet and round to the hole in the floor. OMG - once again the sight and smell that hit me had my stomach rolling and trying to climb out of my throat! 

KILIMANJARO EXPRESS- again!!!! I spun on the spot to get out of there, what little bit of lunch I'd consumed wasn't going to be staying down that's for sure. My whole world went to hell at that point, I was so light-headed so as soon as I spun around my head felt like it became separate from my brain was rattling around in my skull, my eyes were rolling in their sockets, it felt like they were independent of each other and rolling in opposite directions. I frantically tried to grab onto something as my balance went. I literally had my fingernails in the wooden panel, as I was trying to grip on for dear life.

I could feel myself going and was leaning over towards the hole in the heart was pounding as hard as my head as I has a vision of the scene in Slumdog Millionaire where the young kid falls through the floor and drops the 5/6 feet into the raw sewerage and I was frantically screaming in my head on,no,no,please,no!!! I managed to settle enough to straighten up and get myself moving in the opposite direction and towards the way out.   I got outside and promptly projectile vomited all over the outside of the wooden panel. I eventually stopped vomiting and heaving and moved away from the toilet all together. I was so shaky and weak...I was bent over double resting my hands on my knees trying to catch my breath, settle my stomach and calm my body. 

I was like that for a fair few minutes and then stood up making my way back to the others. I sat down shakily and told them what had happened, they were sympathetic and grateful it wasn't them that had gone to the toilet all the while laughing at my description of what had happened - especially my fear of a Slumdog Millionaire reenactment ! Chacha made his way over pointing to my lunchbox and opened his mouth to speak, I held my hand up and said no way can I eat! he nodded his head and dropped the subject.

We got up to make our way away from the Lava tower and down into the Barranco valley to our camp for the night. My memories of the Lava tower are much more varied than I expected when we set off that morning hee hee! It was a long walk down to the camp. Very, very steep, but amazing as well. We saw the giant senecio trees, our first on the mountain, these ones exclusive to Kilimanjaro - they grow nowhere else on earth the guides told us, such a strange tree and they only grow over 3000m and evolved around one million years ago. I have a fascination for trees and yes these really fascinated me! They can grow to 5 meters in height.



When they flower they grow even taller as they sprout straight out the top! It was a tough day and we were shocked at the steep incline down to our camp in the Barranco valley and we were told we would be climbing back out of the valley the next morning and the path pointed out. It was a humdinger! The altitude sickness symptoms eased but only very slightly, the three of us didn't get rid of our headaches properly, and I was still light-headed. I was out in the camp taking photos and trying not to fall to the ground. At the time I was just praying they wouldn't all be blurred!

That's all for day Four, but I will be back soon with the continuing story of the most amazing journey on a magnificent mountain that can only be Mount.Kilimanjaro!

Until next time


Day five on Mount.Kilimanjaro - Camp one.

Hello everyone

I hope this post finds you all well! - I apologise for the delay since my last posting, I've had issues with my laptop and internet.....but all is well again!! So onwards and upwards, we shall travel up the mountain, I hope you are still wanting to come climbing with me!.

I've been re-reading my travel journal to refresh my memory and while doing this I have re-read my message from Molly, her view of me truly overwhelms me and quite rightly I feel humbled and honoured. I don't take any of it for granted, this is my best little pal, my buddy who is coping so very well with her alopecia and she looks upon me with  open honest eyes of a child that haven't been jaded by time and age. In her mind I'm showing her through everyday life and actions that even though things can happen to us which we cannot explain, that we don't necessarily understand, that can cause distress and take some getting used to, we can carry on having a fun filled happy life. We can go off and have adventures, that everyday is an adventure with new experiences to have and beautiful things to see.....that our happiness we find in a normal day actually make us feel great and builds our confidence up, which in turn helps keeps us keep strong through the bad days.

I'm going to write her message here exactly as Molly wrote it...I read it many times when I was away in Tanzania, this is most definitely a keepsake for me and of course good for ribbing Molly when is is a bit older!!



Dear Tracy

Good luck I hope you have a fab time. I will for sure miss you. You're brave I think I will not have the curige to do that. That's why you are inspirational to me you are so brave and have a lot of curige in you.

                                                           your best mate

No more words are needed.

Mountain day five - February 5th. Barranco Camp - 14,928ft to Karanga Valley camp 13,000ft.

After we had reached the camp the night before Chacha had a discussion with us on how we wanted to proceed to the summit. The normal way this is done by all companies is to set off at midnight for the summit and try to hit it for the sunrise. This means you are walking five hours in the dark with head torches on. The other option was to walk two camps in one day.....Barranco Camp to Karanga Valley and then from Karanga Valley to Barafu Camp where we would sleep. We would get up at four am and set off for the summit. This would have us only walking around a hour with the head torches on.

We all agreed even though it would be two tough days on the mountain we would rather go for the second option of completing two camps in one day and setting off for the summit at four am. We all had different reasons for wanting this, the common one was the walking in the dark. I was really not good with my balance and the thought of walking in the dark with just the light of the head torch for all those hours really didn't appeal. Becs was also not having the best of time with her balance.

So we agreed to that and set our sights on walking and completing two camps in the same day. Timewise it wasn't so bad, although the terrain was going to be difficult and very steep at times. But this actually meant nothing in real terms, because the reality was three of us were suffering altitude sickness to some degree and differing symptoms, so it was more a case of cracking on and making ot summit base camp Barafu for a good nights sleep in preparation of our ascent to the top of the  "Roof of Africa" - exciting times.....we were finally on for it!

As we set off on the first leg of our journey today to Karanga Camp I was not feeling good at all. In regards to the altitude sickness I was still suffering. Poor Bec's was throwing up amongst other symptoms including balance and of course the dreaded headache. I hadn't slept well at all the night before, mainly due to my thumping headache - they are almost migraine intensity and hit you in continuing waves of pain.....almost imitating your heartbeat, pulsing away with no real let up. I was also really having a rough time with the pain in my chest. Boy it hurt to try take a deep breath, well actually it didn't even have to be that deep!

The plan was to get to Karanga Camp and have lunch there and a bit of recovery time before we were off again to Barafu am for the night. We weren't bothered that we wouldn't be at the summit for the sunrise - as Chacha said anywhere on the mountain we were going to see the sunrise. I was more than happy t experience it anywhere!!

The first part of our walk was really tough, it was actually climbing up the cliff out of the Barranco's called the great Barranco wall....very steep and rocky on narrow zig zag paths while suffering altitude sickness and balance issues was quite the challenge I tell you!


We set off on the path to climb the Great Barranco wall to then carry on for around a further two hours to Karanga Valley camp. The going was very tough, it is very steep and difficult with he altitude sickness. At this elevation it takes nothing to get you breathless. But regardless of this we were our usual chirpy selves and as much as we could, we carried on with our joking and laughing.

It's impossible to fully describe how tough the Great Barranco wall is to climb up and out of the valley - but please imagine out porters carrying all the camp gear and our bags out of it. Theses incredible lads go the same route as we did....I will always hold every single one of them and the mountain guides in the highest regard and utmost respect for their abilities in the extreme altitude.

We were Pole Pole ( slowly slowly ) making our way up the wall, when we got to a section where Chacha asked for my walking poles, I did look at him with lots of confusion....I'm thinking we are around 15,000ft on a steep narrow rocky path and my balance isn't brilliant and Chacha wants my poles??  We had in actual fact reached a section where we were going to be rock climbing!! we had to scramble up the rocks and believe me - I didn't ever think my first time doing this would be at 15,000ft with no rope or safety harness while suffering with altitude sickness....well it's one off the bucket list that I never put down ha!

We finally climbed over the ridge of the cliff and was out of the Barranco Valley. I have to say it was so very beautiful in the valley with the very steep was truly majestic and regardless of feeling unwell, I really did appreciate it's beauty at the time.







Now we were out of the valley we would be dropping in elevation as we headed to Karanga Valley camp - our drop would be around 2000ft. I was hoping the drop in elevation would ease my headache and if it didn't get rid of it totally, hopefully it would reduce the intensity. It was a really tough walk to the camp, loose scree boulders and rocks.

In the distance we could see Karanga Valley camp, it didn't seem that far, after out gruelling climb out of Barranco Valley it was a welcome sight for sore eyes and tired legs. Well that was until we got close enough to see that the camp was actually on the other side of a ravine.

The closer we got, the more we realised exactly how steep this ravine was.....OMG it was unbelievably steep! We were then taking in the enormity of what we had to scale down......and more importantly what we would have t climb up in order to make camp.

As we reached the edge and saw what we were going to climb down, it even had my eyes watering at the thought of climbing down the ravine. It was so dangerous climbing down, you were slipping all over the place and trying really hard to not slip off the edge and down the side of the ravine. It really was hard on hips. knees, ankles and toes. I can say in all honesty it was the single hardest things I'd done up to this point on the mountain. I'm not kidding when I say it took ninety minutes or so to climb down and p the other side of the ravine. Bec's agreed with me when I said it was bloody really tough when suffering altitude sickness and one of your symptoms was balance issues!

We finally much to all of our relief made it to the bottom, we took a little time to recover and calm our racing hearts....that was a rough old climb down on very slippy scree which made it so very difficult to stop when momentum was taking over   So starts the climb up the other side of the ravine to camp, oh my, my lung and chest were absolutely killing me as we got climbing, I was so breathless, I was literally gasping for breath. I was trying to calm my breathing to reduce my elevated pulse as my heart was frantically trying to pump oxygenated blood around my body. I could hear the blood rushing in my ears.....all the while my head was pounding to this beat my body was pounding out. I kept having to stop to try relieve the pressure a little. I was getting worried about the amount of strain I was putting on my heart and lungs. I really was struggling up out of the ravine.  

Chacha and George were amazing as always - they had us slowing more and more as we all struggled with the steepness of the ravine.....we had climbed about two thirds of the way out of it when Chacha  took my daypack off me to try help me. Both he and George were gently encouraging me up the ravine and finally I stepped off at the top....I've never felt so happy to have completed part of a challenge. As we made off away from the ravine a guide from another company and a friend of Chacha's congratulated us all on completing the ravine and as I smiled and made my way past him he said to are a very tough lady. It would seem I and my story was circulating the mountain teams.

Finally lunch! - we sat in our mess tent recovering and talking about how hard that first part of our day had been, we were hoping for an easier time when we headed of to camp two . We rested, ate and replenished our fluids before gathering ourselves and gear together to continue our trek on the mountain.

Next time we complete our trek to camp two of day five in preparation of our summit ascent. Karanga Valley camp to Barafu camp coming soon.

Until next time

Mountain day five - part two

Hello everyone

I hope this post finds you all well and enjoying the summer. My last post saw us reach Karanga Valley camp from Barranco camp......if you remember we had decided to walk two camps in one day so we could go for our summit attempt through the day rather than climb it mostly through the early hours in the dark. We had all agreed this was the best thing for us all....I for one was grateful for this what with suffering with high altitude sickness, my balance was shot and it was hard enough avoiding stones etc in the daylight!

Karanga Valley Camp to Barafu Camp - 13,000ft - 14,928ft - Day five part two

It seems so weird that on day five we started at an elevation of 14,928ft at Barranco Camp to drop down to 13,000ft to then climb back up to 14,928ft.....but that is exactly what we did!

The really exciting thing about our walk to our second camp of the day is that Barafu camp is the ultimate one - the one we will strike out for our hopefully successful summit ascent. In  less than 24 hours we would be setting off to reach the "Roof of Africa"!

I got to tell you lunch break wasn't nearly long enough a recovery time after the hardest and steepest descent and ascent up to Karanga Valley Camp - that was the steepest ravine I've ever seen never mind climbed. Just thinking about sets my heart off pounding as if it's struggling to pump the blood around my body like it did on the actual climb!

So our climb again was going to be around the three hour mark and I was expecting my altitude sickness symptoms to intensify the higher we climbed. Expecting but hoping that they in fact wouldn't. This climb was quite nondescript in the fact there wasn't anything really to capture my attention. It was just a proper up hill and down dale walk. Very steep hills that were totally draining, especially after the really tough first part of our day. The higher we ascended, the more my symptoms increased, the pain in my lung/chest increased as my breath became more laboured, my headache was becoming a constant thud again and my balance was unsteady.....

It was a walk where it was so steep it made you breathless to walk so talking was to a minimum, we were all trying to stay in the groove of Pole pole Kilimanjaro ( not that walking any faster was an option for any of us! ), so this left us all with time to reflect on what had already passed and what was to come. It was really nice actually, to be able to take some time to just try to absorb what was going on. It was so impossible to talk for much of this second walk of the day unless you wanted to pass out from lack of oxygen. This Mountain is definitely no walk in the park!

I found my mind wandering all over the place and just let it do so. During these extended silences so many things mull around in your mind. Different people pass through, some almost on a constant loop. The emotions I were feeling at the time, overwhelming me on occasions as I looked around, at what I was calling my mountain in my head. Overwhelmed at the feelings that welled up in me as I said to myself....I'm here, I made it, I have finally made it and I am going to conquer it! wondering what everyone back home is up to, are they thinking about you....It's a constant and I have to say it's what helps you get through the day at times. When things are hard and gruelling, it's great having things to occupy your mind and in my case taking it off my lung and how it feels like it's going to actually explode.

As I'm walking I'm thinking of my two buddies Suzie and Molly, how are they, is Molly driving Suzie nuts asking how many more sleeps until I get back home. Does she know where I am, have I climbed to the top yet. Molly telling her teacher and class mates that her best friend is climbing Mount.Kilimanjaro, but she doesn't know where I am exactly. The antics of Molly are making me chuckle because as I picture her bombarding her mum with these questions over and over.....I can envision her body language that goes with them! Now I'm smiling like a lunatic!

I've been missing my two best buddies a lot, and it makes my heart melt and eases my worries knowing Suzie is taking Molly dog out for me while I'm away. I've really been missing my pooch, we do after all spend all day together each and everyday......the joys of my been self employed and the business I run!

Thinking about my mum, her birthday's Feb 10th, and thinking of what I could possibly get her while out here in Tanzania - which is actually pronounced Tan-zane-ia!! these thoughts and many more are going through my head all the while we climb steeply up and down on the mountain while all along steadily increasing our elevation towards camp.

I'm actually chuckling to myself as I think back to my head first tumble and how I flipped myself over so my backpack took the brunt of my landing....and how I was shouting I'm alright to the others as I was still inactual fact sliding to who knew where....all I could see was blue sky and Chacha's eyes....could have been heading towards a ravine for all I knew, but I'm alright is what I was shouting hee hee....I do amuse myself with my own antics!!

And finally we make it to our last camp on the ascent - Barafu at 14,928ft! - this feels such an accomplishment in itself - truly amazing to be here on day five instead of day seven. I'm really glad we changed our plans from the original - I dread to think how much time I'd have spent on the ground from falling over rocks and slipping on the loose scree by climbing with just the light from our headtorches for hours. My balance is terrible!

Wow this camp is very rocky, it's like a boulder assault course just to get into it! the tents are all over the place, anywhere you can find some level ground. Suffering badly with altitude sickness now, head pounding away to the rhythm of my heart beat....thudding loudly in my ears, lightheaded with bad balance. very tired and very relieved to have finally hit camp. Hoping for a great nights sleep and a successful ascent for each and everyone of us!

Even at Barafu camp we cannot see the summit, we can see roughly where we are going to be heading and how steep it's going to be, but no sign of the summit. I'm so very excited to be this close to fulfilling my dream of conquering Mount.Kilimanjaro....all those years in the making. the frustrations of the delays, the ill health preventing me taking it on have now faded to I stand swaying looking around me knowing it's penultimate night and at 4am we will be getting up ready to start our climb around 5am!!'s nearly time!

I just wanted to lay down and rest my pounding head, again I didn't want anything to eat. Poor Bec's was suffering with nausea and so food was off the table for her also. We both disappeared into our respective tents to lay down and try ease our altitude symptoms. I gotta say from all our hard work on this climb and having to depend on our walking poles so much - I'm gonna be mad if my bingo wings ain't!

Next post is summit ascent day and all the dramas that went with it. Hope you'll pop by to read what went on. Day six Summit day!

So me myself right now - I've been waiting since March to be referred to the chronic pain clinic for my never ending saga with the pains in my sides. I, who don't like anything medical voluntarily made a GP appointment to see what was going on with my referral. I cannot carry on with the physical job I do on an average of three hours sleep. The pains wake me constantly, affect me obviously throughout the day. Sadly I started getting intermittent pain in my right side again.....I had a good six months pain free after having my gall bladder out, but it's all started up again. It's built back up in the last eight to ten weeks to almost constant. At times the pain is very acute and pretty unbearable. I even felt like I'd passed a stone a couple of weeks ago, that's how intense the pain was. The really annoying thing with the pain on my right  makes me sick, I actually vomit because of to cap things off, I'm back to been sick daily and so the little food I do have isn't staying down.

So being fully aware that I cannot possibly carry on covering the mileage I do on next to no food and very little sleep and not expect to feel as fatigued as I am starting to do I went to see the doctor.

He checked the system and no referral letter had been received so said he was tied as to what he could offer me....after a fairly lengthy chat he prescribed me Tramadol to take on a night to see if it would help my pains enough so I could get some sleep. He said without seeing what my consultant was saying he could do no more ( he wasn't even going to do that at first! ). They didn't in fact work so I'm not taking now...I don't do tablets unless really pressed.

I then left a message with my consultants secretary to find out if the referral had been sent out. This actually took a couple of weeks to get a response and only after I had phoned four times! long story short, the referral was resent and I've finally got a letter so I can choose and book.

Three months to get to the point where I can choose and book - ridiculous!....but at least now I can hopefully find something when dealing with the clinic that's going to help me relieve some pain off so I can sleep and eat better than I am now. I know my food intake won't ever be brilliant, it's not been great since my chemo days. But if I can get back to keeping down the one meal I actually eat a day - that would be a start!

Until next time

February 6th 2015 - Summit Ascent Day!

Jambo everyone!

Mount.Kilimanjaro - one hell of a climb!

Five years of planning, dreaming, researching this incredible adventure, this amazing challenge I set myself all that time ago. all the set backs due to ill health, reactions to my cancer prevention drugs which saw me stop taking them three years early, and yes knowing the possible consequences of that...but I have always said it's quality of life over quantity, the cascade of problems and new illnesses all appearing after starting chemo and radiation therapy. My hard slog to get fighting fit after nine months of invasive treatments, a collapsed lung and a near deadly bout of pneumonia.

Pushing and driving myself forward when at first after my release from hospital with the pneumonia saw me having to stop rest and catch my breath at least 4/5 times on my way to the bathroom....this all caused from climbing up thirteen steps!  Putting in 5/6 months of training to get fit for the challenge I set of completing the London Moonwalk. The amazing unwavering support of my best buddy Suzie throughout all of this, coming out training with me, being part of our Team L'Oreal for the London Moonwalk......always just supporting, never once saying...."do you think you've bitten off too much." Crossing that finish line after power walking 26.2 miles in ten hours...just over a year after finishing my radiation therapy holding hands - my one cross the finish holding hands. Filling up, feeling overwhelmed and smiling so big I thought my jaw was going to break, giggling at Suzie who was crying ( I do call her cry baby Mewis...she cries at everything!! )

All that hard work made easier having great friends and company while out working so hard to get my stamina back up, turned it from a chore to a fun outing. I thank you with all my heart Suzie for being my are the best gal to have as a friend in the whole world. Very pleased and honoured to call you mine!

And all my hard work, my fighting to get fit everyday - hell fighting to stay alive everyday paid off, because here I am on the cusp of completing the challenge that has driven me forward for so long. I am about to embark on my ascent to the summit of Mount.Kilimanjaro......the Roof of Africa....the world's tallest free standing mountain, the highest a human can climb without the aid of oxygen...we are talking extreme high altitude...and I am ready, I am ready to conquer my mountain! so to bed we go knowing when we get up at's game on!! Summit day here we come!


What a difference a few hours can make! Peter knocked us awake at 4 am for breakfast, I say knocked us awake when in actual fact I'd not managed a minutes sleep. I had the most dreadful night, I felt like crying but it would take to much effort and I don't think I could cope with my brain and eyes rattling around from the sobbing motion.

So,so ill! the pain I'd been having for the majority of the climb in my chest was so very painful, every breath really hurt. And because we had camped at 4600m my altitude sickness was in full flow, I felt nauseous, my head was still pounding to the rhythm of my heart beat, I was lightheaded, disorientated, my chest felt like it was in a vice. I was feeling utterly dreadful, so fatigued. Through the night as my symptoms kept increasing I was honestly and truly convinced I'd be going down the mountain and not for an ascent climb to the summit.

Emotionally I was a wreck trying not to cry through my puffy almost swollen shut eyes ( no idea what has caused this ). I was completely convinced me and my mountain had come to an end.

Ali and I were sharing a tent and she said Tracy its time to wake up, I told her I was awake but couldn't sit myself up because of the pain in my chest ( I'd not been able to even turn off my back through the night for the pain ). Bless her she came over and gently helped me into a sitting position. I sat there for a while trying to settle my symptoms and pain before managing to get out my sleeping bag and into some clothes before heading out to the mess tent.

There was no way again this morning could I eat anything, I felt so nauseous, I did manage half a cup of black tea.....but that was my limit. I was just sat there trying to get everything to stop spinning. I looked over the table and could see Bec's wasn't fairing any better than me, One of Bec's big symptoms was her nausea and throwing up....bless her, through the slits in my eyes I could see she was green! Not how either of us thought summit day would pan out. I figured I'd trying to reign myself and excitement in....not this, never in a million years imagined this! Ali fortunately wasn't suffering any high altitude sickness symptoms at all and had finally in the last couple of days had finally got her appetite back!

The next thing I knew Chacha was getting me up out of my chair, he had me stood  while he zipped up my jacket, put my thermal hat on and pulled it right down to cover my eyebrows and put my head torch into position. All this was going on and I was trying to concentrate and not move my head much so the spinning didn't get any worse. I leaned down to grab my backpack but it wasn't there, I started looking for it but Chacha stopped me and said it's okay Tracy, I have you pack. And there he was putting it on himself. I didn't understand why, but was so out of it I didn't ask why. It turned out George our assistant guide was going to carry Bec's pack for her. We were too ill to manage our own.

Everything is in such slow motion, it's the most bizarre thing really, looking around everyone seems to be moving extra slow - these altitude symptoms are a lot to take in for sure. It definitely takes an age longer to do the simplest of tasks and in some cases it was impossible to do them. I have to say if I never suffer high altitude sickness again in my life I can live with that ha!

Bec's was still feeling sick with a pounding headache, she was feeling dreadful as well as looking ill. Dom also was suffering with a bad head. Ali was the only one of us that didn't have any symptoms of altitude sickness at all. We other three weren't fairing well at all.

I had a full on discussion with Chacha about my symptoms and more importantly the pain in my chest. We chatted about whether it was still okay for me to go for the summit or if I in fact needed to be staying in camp or heading down the mountain. Chacha said he knew even though I was like I was, that I could and would reach the summit. I was concerned about holding the others back because I knew I was going to find it so hard, It pained me every breath I took and I knew this was going to cause me to have to stop to catch my breath. Chacha said it's okay, we will all be walking very pole's a tough climb, but no rushing. He said for the  umpteenth time - you are a strong woman and then said it is impossible for you not to make it!

So after our discussion we were on our way, it was summit or bust time. We set off out of the really tough rocky camp in the dark but torch light, I was told to go behind Chacha as we to our normal routine walked single file. It was difficult to see where we were going, mine made worse by the fact my eyes were still swollen practically shut at this time. We'd actually set off a little later than originally planned, so wouldn't be walking more than an hour in the dark before our Kilimanjaro sunrise!

I really can't explain well enough for you how rocky Barafu camp is, it's a full on tough climb just getting out of the camp and obviously circumnavigating it in the dark was hard, thank goodness our wonderful guides Chacha and George were there to lead us! we had to climb up onto some of the boulders, it was almost like a very rocky plateau, very uneven to say the least. I'm sure you can imagine what that was like when lightheaded, disorientated and having balance issues.

We very slowly made our way out of the camp and on to the actual ascent climb. It was starting to get light and it would soon be the new dawn, our new dawn of February 6th 2015. My eyes were starting to open more, albeit slowly, but I was starting to be able to see more of the terrain I was walking on. The incline was starting to increase.....yep definitely game on now......

I was keeping pace with Chacha but it was hard going, everything was a massive effort, I was really struggling with my breathing, my chest and specifically my right lung were very painful and I was very worried as to how I was going to cope the steeper the incline became and the higher we climbed. We were on for a 6-7 hour climb to the summit, so a very tough slog ahead.

Dom and Ali were carrying their own day packs and as I said Chacha and George were carrying Bec's and my packs. Chacha's younger brother ( we didn't know it was his brother until later ) was climbing with us, and it was his first time to the summit too.....what a fabulous crew we had!

The sun started to rise and we took a bit of time out to watch and take in the most beautiful sunrise I so far experienced in my life! It was obviously made so special because of where I was stood watching the new dawn....such a  breath-taking, spectacular, emotionally charged, overwhelming sunrise...utterly magical! I remember leaning heavily on my poles with Chacha rubbing my arm saying how well I was doing.

He knew where I had my adventure camera and he took it out of my pocket and started to take some shots. It was very obvious that neither Bec's or I were up to taking photos and that we'd be devastated if we came off the mountain with no summit day photographic memories. He then passed my camera to George, who had taken Bec's from her and that was it - George was graciously going to make sure we got our memories. I said to him, George later on route please take some shots of the clouds below us, I love that we are higher than the clouds. His response so typical of cool George - Hakuna matata worries!

Anyone who knows me will understand exactly how ill I was, because I never not take photos of something or somewhere I am!




My eyes are still swollen and only starting to open up.....


Then off we went to continue our long climb to the summit!


Looking back down to Barafu camp. 

We could now take our torches off, the day was awakening and we could see without the aid of them. My eyes were still opening more and more, it was just taking time. I couldn't tell you how many times we stopped on the ascent, it was lots and lots for sure. On one of them there were really large boulders near by, I had myself draped over one on my front so desperately trying to ease the pain in my chest. Every single breath was hard work, painful and gasped. Chacha came over and was saying over and over...Tracy you are a really strong woman, I know you are finding hard because you're ill, but you can do it....all the while rubbing my back, he just knew it was hurting badly. I was drinking my fluids down every stop and a little in between.

Off we set again, the incline was so very steep and we steadily pole pole zig zagged our way towards the summit. Normally as soon as I get walking I would be peeling a layer off and putting it into my backpack, I'm always warm so it doesn't take much to get me hot, but summit day I didn't peel anything off apart from my thermal hat, it was on and off the whole day! But the rest of my stuff stayed on...very strange for me.

As we were walking I was actually falling asleep, it's bizarre, really, I was actually walking and carried on walking but eyes were closed and I was gone. Then you'd stumble a little or kick a rock and you'd jolt awake. As the hours kept ticking away, we stopped for a break and Dom asked Chacha why he was so sleepy and tired. Chacha said it's the altitude sickness that's causing it. Bec's said she'd been walking and falling asleep and then I said the same. Yet another symptom to contend with!

The altitude sickness was a complete flipping nightmare, the last time I'd felt that ill was when I was having my invasive treatments for my cancer. I was coming very close to saturation point with Mount.Kilimanjaro....I kept wondering how different it would be to climb it and not suffer the symptoms.



Barafu camp below.....


Above the clouds!


By now we had started to encounter climbers on their descent, they'd set off for the summit at midnight and were now making their way back to Barafu camp. It was fascinating watching them go down the incredibly steep and slippy route back down the mountain, so many were staggering all over the place with altitude sickness. I said a couple of times that I couldn't go on, I was really suffering with my chest, I was literally gasping for breath and of course each one really hurt. But the oxygen is so thin at this elevation, you're not getting much from it to fuel your muscles anyway.

I could feel how fast my heart was beating as it desperately tried to pump oxygenated blood to my muscles. Lack of food over the last couple of days wasn't helping me at all. I asked Bec's how she was doing and so wasn't fairing much better than me. Ali was brilliant, encouraging us and championing us to keep climbing no matter how slow. We were definitely one team on this majestic mountain!

I was so very tired, no sleep the night before was killing me, I was sure a quick power nap would see me right for the rest of the ascent. We stopped for a break, Bec's was sat on a rock, her head leaning on her hands on her poles trying to cope with her nausea and pounding head, Dom was also sat on a rock rubbing his head which was also pounding. Ali was sat down and I went and sat on a rock just in front of her. She put her pack on her knee and said for me to lean back.

As soon as I did I went out, I relaxed and fell asleep, I still had my sunglasses on and guess my mouth must have started dropping open....unless I was snoring ha ha. The next thing I know is George is shouting me to wake up! I sat up and looked over Georges way, big mistake as it set my brain rattling around in my skull and my eyes rolling too, gosh it's so hard to get them to stop once they start believe me. When I say George shouted, he raised his voice a tad, George is way too cool to shout!

He told me I had to stay awake, that it was too dangerous to sleep this high on the mountain. High altitude sickness is a killer, an ave of fifteen people die annually on Mount.Kilimanjaro......make no mistake, this challenge was extreme for sure! 


The effects of high altitude sickness on three of us, this shows how far from a walk in the park Mount. Kilimanjaro was. Everything is in slow motion or so it feels. Such a continuously steep climb really took it's tole on us all. by now we were all just wanting to hit the summit, this was not fun, this was pure determination to reach the top, my tank had been running on empty since we set off from base camp that morning. Not really much more to give, but as I looked around at the others I could see I was not alone with that.




Trying to catch my breath and ease the pain in my chest. Dom was more than happy to stop and take a breather too.



We carried on making our way slowly up and up towards our destination, it was a desperately hard slog and one each and everyone of us were struggling with it. The air is so thin, it feels like even though you're breathing that you aren't! Chacha told us we were really close to the summit now, around ten more minutes. 

I was by now struggling, my breathing was shallow and I was starting to gasp. I was so very fatigued, head was pounding and the blood rushing in my ears, it sounded almost like thunder. I dread to think what my heart rate was, it felt like it was going to explode out of my chest. If I'd not been so out of it - I'm sure I would have been worried about it. Chacha's younger brother Kalebu was walking with me and trying to encourage me up to the summit. Bec's and Ali had made it up the last stretch which was about 15 ft. I could see the summit Stella point in front of me. I was bent over almost doubled over trying to force so much needed oxygen into my very tired, painful and overworked lungs

Chacha walked down to me as I had stopped again, I was literally stopping to gasp for air every couple of steps. He came and started rubbing my back, boy it was aching so much. He had me stand straight and then gave me some of his water. While he was holding his bottle for me to sip from he said I had to drink to give my body some desperately needed oxygen. He then put it away and said I want you to do nothing but follow me and bend your legs I'm going to help you this last little bit. Don't use the energy you've just got. He took my hand and led me up the last fifteen feet, I was really struggling to breath and as we got to the top and he hugged me I thought I was going to pass out.


Ali was there and we had a big hug, I couldn't talk I was trying really hard to calm my wasn't working! I staggered over to the official summit board with help from Chacha's brother and sat down on  rock. Bec's was sat on one as well and had been since getting up to the summit. I was gasping and looked at Bec's - saying I can't breath! - she said you will in a minute, I couldn't when I got here but I'm a bit better now. My breathing finally settled enough for me to take in my surroundings.


Hanging onto the pole trying to stop the internal spinning!

Now the hugging and congratulations started in earnest now we had all caught our breath a little.We all hugged and laughed with each other. We regardless of how ill we felt were all smiling. Believe me the first natural one of the day. It had taken us a excruciating seven hours to make it here. We had most certainly earned our smiles.

Chacha said for us to take our photos at the summit because we couldn't afford to be here long, especially with three of us suffering as we were.   




We had photos taken with everyone from the summit climb group, then I had photos taken with a message I'd done and laminated back in the UK. Here's my message I wanted to share with you all.






George had taken some  shots of we three girls at the summit before we had to set off back down to Barafu camp.






Look at us, so relaxed and pleased at reaching the summit.

Chacha told us we needed to make our way back down the mountain to reduce our altitude symptoms. We set off down the steep descent towards camp, we were told it would be around four hours back to Barafu camp. This was by far the longest and toughest day climbing on the mountain and we'd thought the ravine to Karanga camp was bad!




We were slipping and sliding down the scree at a pretty fast pace. The momentum of the steep descent caused me to be moving too quickly, so I would dig my poles in as hard as I could and the same with my feet until I stopped slipping. Because of the symptoms I was suffering I couldn't really focus on what was happening to me or around me. All the motion was making my lightheadedness  and balance much worse. I couldn't keep myself on my feet, my balance as I said for the last couple of days was shot to pieces, so that and the steep slippy descent saw me falling over and over again, I continuously fell to my right, every single time. I would start staggering to my right and wouldn't stop until I either hit a boulder, rock face or the floor, nothing was stopping that from happening! 

I fell around ten times on our way back to camp - a very sore, achy body to look forward to tomorrow! 

We weren't too far off the summit when we came to some rocks we had to climb through. Dom just lost it and fell over, stood up but went straight back down. He attempted to get back up but only made it to his knees. George and Chacha's brother had to evacuate him down the mountain. They had hold of him on both sides and literally ran him down the mountain.....there is no doubt our amazing crew saved his life that day.He was that out of it, he didn't really recall what had happened to him.

That left Chacha and we three girls to get down to camp. He was urging us on at the fastest pace we could manage because Bec's and I were still suffering badly with our altitude sickness, our hope was it would settle a bit when we got back to camp and rested. 

As well as all the aches and new bruises I'd be sporting later from all my falling from been disorientated my toes we really hurting, they were smashing into the front of my hikers, I knew I was in trouble, I hadn't fastened them properly first thing with being so ill. I'd barely fastened them at all really. I as going to pay the price but still didn't have it in me to try and sort them, I really didn't.

We finally after I don't know how many hours were nearing Barafu camp. It felt like weeks had passed since we had set off this morning. But seeing the camp getting closer was a big relief....I just needed to lie down, I was so very tired and still so very sleepy. I'd managed to keep myself awake so had done well with that one!

Peter and a couple of the boys had come to meet us with drinks and lunch if we wanted it......bless them! They were congratulating us, fist bumping and hugging us, even though I still felt absolutely crap it was brilliant, such a wonderfully warm reception from some of the lads in our crew! We sat down on some rocks and had pineapple juice and a cup of tea in my case and coffee for those who wanted it. Chacha asked if we wanted lunch and we all said no not out here thanks. We drank our drinks, Bec's couldn't drink her pineapple juice, said it was too sweet. I drank mine even though I still felt nauseous and even had sugar in my tea - I just needed a sugar rush I think. I've not taken sugar in my drinks since I was around eleven years of age, but on the mountain I was taking more and more the longer we were there. I guess my blood sugar was really low for me to be craving it so much.

So the last section to camp beckoned us - we the conquerors of Mount.Kilimanjaro were nearly back in camp. I couldn't wait to get into my sleeping bag, to try sleep off the symptoms I was suffering and hoping that my chest was better and my breathing not only easier but less painful, so still feeling absolutely dreadful we set off on our trip to camp. It was still a steep descent into camp and then we had to navigate the camp itself to our tents, that in itself would be challenging! The boys went ahead with our day packs and Peter our porter come waiter would be staying with Chacha and we three girls all the way back to camp.

I don't know where or when it went completely wrong - one minute I'm concentrating on making sure my footsteps are secure on the very rocky descent ( especially after all the falls I'd already suffered coming down the mountain ) and the next thing my heads completely gone, everything is spinning out of control, my eyes are rolling and my balance has gone. I slip off the edge of the rock I was about to step down off and hit the boulder wall to my left hard....this set me off to the right and I know even though I can't make out where I am, I know that I'm in trouble, I can't ever stop myself when I start falling off to the right. I manage to plonk myself onto the rock I've just slipped off and as I carry on falling away to my right I grab hold of the edge of the rock ( I know there's a drop to my right, don't know much more than that ) and I'm hanging on for dear eyes and brain are trying to catch up with the rest of me........

I don't remember this, but Bec's had seen me and had shouted to Chacha - Tracy needs help!, he had turned around seen me and came sprinting back up to me. He grabbed my arm as I was falling over and stopped me in my tracks. He was rubbing my back all the time he was talking to me, I have no recollection of what he said apart from shouting Peter over, he came scrambling down to where we were. They got me stood up, Chacha took my poles off me and they each held an arm and started moving me down towards camp as fast as they could get me to go. I was completely out of it and was still struggling to stop the spinning motion in my brain and eyes. I still don't know how they managed to control themselves and me over the rocks and really tough terrain, but that they did. 

As we carried on down I started to get a bit more control and so after a while Chacha deemed me safe enough to be left in Peter's care. As we carried on down I know we passed lots of people. It turned out to be a team from America who were going on a bit of an acclimatisation walk as they were going to be setting off at midnight for the summit. 

I remember been asked if I'd made it to the summit to which I said yes and smiled, one of the ladies asked if I was okay ( having a guide leading you down the mountain is a bit of a giveaway ). I vaguely remember  telling them of some of the altitude symptoms and telling them I hoped they didn't suffer on their climb. Then Peter lead me away towards my sleeping bag ( boy I so needed to lay down! ) I was so,so tired!

Ali & Bec's said all the drama started after I'd been lead away, the group of American's started up, one woman in particular who it turned out was a doctor from Phoenix. She was telling the girls to get me further down the mountain. Ali told her she didn't know what was going to be happening yet as regards our camp situation. The doctor again said you need to get her down......Ali and Bec's were just looking at her as she kept repeating get her down! then again get her down, she might not make it through the night!! The girls then took their leave to follow me back to camp.

Peter got me back to my tent and I literally fell through the flap into my sleeping bag where I passed out for a couple of hours. While we climbers were out of it and oblivious to our surroundings Chacha was sorting out an emergency evacuation of one of our crew. He and a couple of the boys had walked back to the ravine at Karanga camp for water, he had taken a tumble into the ravine, at this time it wasn't known if he'd broken his leg....what was known was he was in a bad way. Mountain rules state if someone is evacuated a guide must accompany the injured person. So this meant George was to be going and that we wouldn't see him again.

Chacha insisted on us getting up to drink and eat in the mess tent. He then told us about our poor injured porter and George came and said goodbye to us, hugged us goodbye. He told me I was a very strong woman and fist bumped me before going off to travel down the mountain.

Chacha was encouraging us all to eat because some of us had not eaten all day and those that had, hadn't had much at 4am. I managed a little soup. I was shaking that hard I thought the soup was going to end up all over me, I couldn't stop shaking. Chacha made the decision that Bec's and I were that poorly and had not recovered in the slightest since getting back to camp that we had to evacuate down to a lower elevation and the next camp down. Millenium camp was around ninety minutes away.

He said for us to pack as quickly as possible because it was 6pm and it would soon be dark. We set off down to Millenium camp. The going was really tough for Bec's and I . She had to stop a few times to be sick or wretch on was still all over the place and falling to the ground ( boy it was hurting a lot now! ). It was steep, uneven and the scree was very loose and slippy. Walking on this kind of surface is not only very difficult but it's very draining. When we set off for Millenium camp we'd already been ascending and descending eleven hours. eleven hours on the toughest and steepest climb to the summit and the most difficult descent down on the steep loose say we were exhausted is an understatement.

The sun was rapidly going down and we were nowhere near camp, this wasn't good at all, more staggering about in the dark ahead - deep joy! We had to put our torches on, but I didn't know where mine was from this morning so ended up with a small one in my hand while holding my walking pole...not the easiest thing to do. It was pitch black and so very dangerous with my complete lack of balance. After I'd fallen a few times Ali insisted I was to walk behind Chacha as I was making her uneasy and nervous with all my falling.

We carried on plodding and making our way down the mountain towards camp, it felt like we'd been walking for days to be honest. Eventually we saw some lights in front of us, I was yay camp!...Chacha said no not yet Tracy, it was actually some of our crew, bless them they came out to meet us and see us back to camp. Then we thought, whenever they've come to meet us it's not been long into camp. This lifted our spirits up a lot, we are nearly there we thought. I hit the floor again and was groaning, I just wanted to stay there where I lay until I had a sleep....I needed to sleep! I needed to stop feeling so off balance, I needed myself and the world to stop spinning just for a while.

It turned out the boys had come a long way out to see what was keeping us, because it was about an hour after them meeting us for us to hit camp. It took us around three hours not ninety minutes it should have. I refused food and drink when we got to our camp, I didn't have the energy for either, both Bec's and I went straight to our respective tents and was out of it until morning.

So ends the most incredible day on the mountain, a day that saw everything happening,suffering badly with altitude sickness, successful ascent to the summit, an emergency evacuation from almost the summit and a later one to camp for myself. An urgent evacuation to lower camp and elevation to ensure Bec's and I were going to be okay and the altitude symptoms would reduce and leave us feeling much brighter. One of our porters taken off the mountain for medical assistance. 14 hours approx of climbing  and descending  on the steepest and slippiest terrain.....and we survived it! 

The most incredibly hard but amazing day in my life so far, an experience never to be forgotten, a proud achievement worked so hard for in  difficult personal circumstances...but even if I could, I wouldn't change a single bit of it, the good and bad made the day what it was.

To quote the legendary Audrey Hepburn - Nothing is impossible the word itself says I'm possible

I came, I climbed and I conquered - Mount Kilimanjaro my challenge set in 2010 conquered February 6th 2015.   

Until next time

Mountain days seven & eight - end of an epic adventure

Hello everyone

So here comes the last blog entry for my Mount.Kilimanjaro challenge. The last two leisurely days climbing down the mountain to Mweka Camp to sign into the official register for the very last time. A time for us to be able to fully enjoy the scenery, chat about what's come before and take in everything on offer as we come to the end of a most magnificent adventure on such a vast majestic mountain.

I learned not only things about this amazing mountain but most definitely things about myself, I truly found myself on the Roof of Africa, a version of myself lost when I started all my invasive treatments for my breast cancer, the explorer got buried in the recess of my mind as I took on my daily fight for all those months and not surprisingly with me - forgotten. I was so at peace here on Mount.Kilimanjaro, a place that pushed me to the very limits of my physical endurance.

I cannot think about this mountain without feeling so very emotional - five years in the making to achieve my successful ascent to the summit, such an amazing motivational challenge that saw me pick myself up, dust off and start the very long and arduous task of getting fit and healthy enough to take it on.

And take it on I did!

Day seven - Millenium camp

I felt so much brighter when I awoke. Yesterday's summit day climb had been so very hard and then the evacuation to Millenium camp because Bec's and I weren't recovering enough was the straw that nearly broke the camels back as it were. It was a relief to wake up minus the horrible headache I'd had for days. We hadn't set a time to get up as we were only going to be walking for a couple of hours to the next camp. But we were awake by seven anyway. I was stiff and aching, definitely from all my falling the day before.

We got ourselves out of the tent and into the mess tent after surviving a toilet run. I managed a little breakfast and a cup of black tea with sugar. Bec's was feeling much brighter too, no headache and no nausea, she was very happy to eat food for the first time in a couple of days. We laughed through breakfast the first time we'd been fully aware of ourselves and surroundings in the last few days, for those who never suffer any high altitude symptoms you'll never realise how debilitating they are and how lucky you are!

After breakfast Chacha asked if we'd like to walk the remaining five hours down to Mweka Camp and save having another night on the mountain. We all individually said no, my reasons were I wanted to fully absorb the rest of our trip down the mountain at a leisurely pace, knowing today we'd only be walking a couple of hours ( this is because of how we'd changed our Kilimanjaro climb to cover two camps in one day and our evacuation down to Millenium camp last night ) and to be perfectly honest I didn't think I'd survive walking all that time with my poor feet - especially my big right toe. Boy it was inflamed and very sore! I'd managed to get my hikers back on but it wasn't like wearing my slippers!

So we all agreed we wanted to stay our full duration on the mountain, if we were to complete our climb a day early we wouldn't have a hotel for the night booked we told Chacha and Bec's told him about the state of my toes. Chacha came back to us saying if we completed the five hour trek off the mountain today, our hotel for the night would be paid for and an emergency vehicle at the collection point would be waiting to take me off the mountain with my foot. We all still declined and said we wanted to just stick with our original itinerary.

I said to Chacha I walked onto the mountain and I'm going to walk off it too, to which he capped his head!

So off we set on our two hour walk to the next camp, I knew because of the steepness it was going to push my toes to the limit today, I was a little weary as to how uncomfortable it was going to be. It was the same terrain as the night prior - loose, rocky, slippy scree on a steep descent  for a big part of the walk. I was determined I was staying on my feet today after all the falling down yesterday and I took "pole pole" to a whole new level. This was fine as we weren't going to be walking all day.

Chacha set me off leading us down the mountain to our next camp, it was fun and relaxing, we were all laughing and chatting our way down into camp. There were some dodgy moments for me, my balance still wasn't right and I did stagger a few times which were a killer on my poor battered toes, but I did manage to stay on my feet - so that was a massive bonus! There were parts where we had to scramble down some big rocks but overall it did get easier the closer to camp we got.

We made it to camp with no drama and took to chilling out. The girls sat on the mess chairs in the sunshine and I laid out in the tent with my boots off - heaven I tell you. My big toes was very inflamed and sore, so the short walk had been a godsend. I was glad it was only three hours tomorrow. I love my hikers they are rally comfy but I was looking forward to taking them off for the rest of the holiday until it was time to fly home.

We were watching people making it into camp most of them on their last legs , kudos to them they had made it all the way down here from the summit - now that's a long days climb and walk. In between people watching the girls were reading and I was writing in my travel journal, I had a lot of days to catch up on, I'd not written anything but bullet points since been hit with the altitude sickness. We were all very happy chilling out around camp.

We went for an afternoon snack of a cuppa and popcorn - yep you read that correctly popcorn!! We taught Chacha to dunk biscuits in his tea ( so much fun! ) and he taught us to play Last card. Ali did really well with the game. Everyone in our crew were chilled out relaxing sat around enjoying the afternoon sun. A great day it was.

Tradition is for the climbers to do a ceremony on last night on the mountain where you give a thank you speech to all the crew and hand over the tips for the trip for all the boys. Our gang said I was to do the thanking ceremony - lucky me ha!

We asked Chacha to get everyone together and I said our speech, Chacha was translating into Swahili for those who didn't fully understand English. I thanked them from all of us on their hard work and great efforts carrying all the equipment, tents, food and of course our main packs up and down the mountain. I thanked them for their enthusiasm each and everyday, for singing songs each and every morning with such gusto, for laughing along with us at our early attempts to join in and our dancing skills. I said we couldn't have made a successful ascent to the summit without each and every single one of them and we had no doubt we had been with the best climbing crew on Mount Kilimanjaro. And lastly a big thank you for all the encouragement, fist bumping, cheering and hugs we all received from them all at the end of every day.

I then presented Chacha with the money for each and every crew member, we gave the recommended  daily allowance for all, they didn't know what we had given Chacha but they were all smiling and thanking us. As they were about to go I asked Chacha to call them back. I told Chacha we three girls were so very impressed with our crew and all the fun and smiles they had given us we wanted to give extra tips which we wanted to be split equally between them all. Chacha said thank you and pocketed the money to sort out later. The crew went off about their business and we were getting ready to go to the mess tent for out tea. We were really giddy as we had asked Job our chef for chips and homemade bread ( bit like chapatis )...we were hankering for a chip butty!!

The extra tips we girls had decided to give was what we originally would have paid for just the three of us doing the climb. Then Mussa had emailed asking if Dom from Italy could join us on the climb to which we said yes no problem, so with him joining it lowered our total we would give in tips to the crew. But like I said we stuck to our original budget which gave the boys extra spending money. We were really happy to do it.

After our meal where we showed Chacha to make chip butties he told us thank you for the tips and we girls for the extra - he said the guys were over the moon and it would benefit all their families with the extra. We were so happy they we happy with what we had given.

Day eight

So our final day on the mountain! - what a bittersweet day.....we would finally make it to Mweka Camp and so officially completed our epic climb and would get our certificate which was amazing but it also meant we'd be leaving the mountain and this part of the adventure would be over. I knew all along I was going to find leaving it behind hard but it was going to be.

So we set off on our final climb down the mountain, it was a three hour climb. My right big toe was very,very sore and was causing me some right grief. Only three hours but I figured it was going to feel much longer, I had managed to get my hiker on but it definitely not comfortable.

After breakfast we gathered with our boys for a song. They we full of it and sang loads! - it was amazing, vibrant and full of life. Other companies were singing a song or two, but not our boys. We were partying! Bec's recorded around ten minutes of it. They were using empty plastic containers as drums...we were singing our Jambo song together, we danced and laughed it was truly electric. Other climbers stood around watching us and our boys - I think wishing they'd been with the best on the mountain with us!!

If I ever have the funds to climb Mt.Kilimanjaro again I would use no other company than Chacha's climbing company which is Chacha Tours Africa and Mussa's company Wild Secret Sarafis for safaris and anything else I wanted to do in Tanzania. I wouldn't use anybody else and I recommend to each and everyone of you.

We said goodbye to our crew with enthusiastic hugs and fist bumps and set off on our last walk. Chacha once again invited me to take the lead and again we were talking major slow pole pole! The pace was very slow but I wasn't falling and I was making it down under my own steam. A way into the walk Ali and Dom went off a  it faster, Chacha had Pete go with them, I said to Bec's to go with them....she was no I'm happy to stroll down with you through the forest.

Bec's, Chacha and I strolled down laughing and chatting and telling each other stories. We had such a blast, the time passed on so quickly, the American Doctor who'd been telling them to get me down lower on summit day recognised me and stopped in front of me ( I didn't recognise her ), she said it was great to see me and she was checking me over and said I looked much better than when she'd seen me last, she then carried on down the mountain.

We were getting close to the end of our last walk - a couple of the lads came to meet us and I knew it wasn't far to go now, my toe was absolutely killing me, I had stubbed it a couple of times on little tree roots and stumps that were sticking up on route. I have to tell you I felt so nauseous! I did manage not to be sick but had both Chacha and Bec's cringing for me when I caught it.

We had laughed, sang all they way down, what a brilliant last walk on the mountain....we literally strolled our way into camp.

We finally made it - Mount Kilimanjaro climb completed! Our whole team had reached the summit and that was down to Chacha and the boys and of course our own personal determination - you cannot do this epic mountain as an individual, it's teamwork or bust for sure!

I had stood on the Roof of Africa!!

I handed my walking poles to Chacha and said can you give them to someone in the crew who wants some? He passed them to the lad carrying my backpack who happily took them, job done! As we slowly made our way to where Dom & Ali were waiting for us, over to the left were all our crew who were shouting and waving to us. We happily waved back to them, it was a brilliant feeling knowing  they were so happy to see us finish our climb. Mussa and Alphonce came over to greet us and congratulate us, I said we are stinky and sweaty, they just laughed and gave us a hug. The smile on my face was permanent and a mile wide, we made it under the shelter and Ali said Mussa had bought us soda, which do you want. I looked and said a Fanta please, boy those bubbles were amazing after all the water we'd had with the water purification tablets in it! I sat down and said I've got to check my toe, it's killing and I kept banging it. I loosened my boot and slowly took it off, I pulled my sock off to check! it was a real mess! it was very swollen, inflamed and I could tell the nail was nearly off now! it had the biggest blood blister at the base of the nail, I touched the top of the nail and it rocked....the only thing holding it on was the skin at the side of it. It wasn't good at all and looked infected. As soon as we hit town I needed at least a trip to a chemist. I managed to get my sock back on and my boot which I left loose and unlaced. I sat downing my Fanta - Bec's said Tracy your toe is a right mess, yep I agreed but even with it like that, I'd traveled down the mountain walking on it around twelve hours and it had hurt a lot, but I'd made it all the way on my two feet and this made me very happy!

I slowly made my way to the bathroom, on my way out I saw the American doctor and some of the women who were with her when I passed them after the summit climb. They literally surrounded me and were asking how I was ( obviously had left an impression when they'd seen me ), I told them much better, they said I looked a lot better than the last time they'd seen me. The doctor was really scrutinizing me while the others were talking. I asked if they were going home or onto a safari, most were with one or two going home. One of the women asked where I was from, I said Yorkshire England.....they were all, Oh I love your accent!. I wished them the best for the rest of their holiday and a safe journey home and left to go back to the others.

We went and joined the line to sign into the register at Mweka Gate - our last time. I feel very proud to know my name is in every record book at every camp on Mount.Kilimanjaro. We were asked if we wanted a drink while waiting to sign in, so we got a Kilimanjaro beer- it had to be for sure!! Peter from our crew came over while we were drinking our beers to say goodbye. We all had a hug and then Peter and I sang the Jambo song, at the end people were clapping ha ha - rock stars!! We signed our names and made our way back over to Mussa and the gang.

We were finally leaving Mount.Kilimanjaro behind and making our way back to Moshi and our hotel. I had said to Mussa and Alphonce that I needed a chemist for my toe and that it was bad. They said we are booked into a restaurant and would take me after our celebratory meal. We girls were a meal before shower????? they laughed and said yes. 

We got to the restaurant and we gang of climbers insisted on sitting outside - I reminded myself of the character in Peanuts who carries the blanket and has flies hanging around him ( we stank bad after only wet wipe washes and a bowl of water for the last 8 days!! ) We had a beautiful meal and champagne to toast our success - thank you Mussa and Wild Secret Safaris for that, a wonderfully thoughtful touch from yourself and your company!

It was decided to drop the girls off at the hotel and then take me to the chemist, I'd have preferred it the other way round, boy it was throbbing! Eventually I was off to hopefully get something to give me some relief after shouting to Bec's to save me some water!! We went into a chemist where Alphonce translated for me, they said I needed to see the doctor around the corner upstairs, so Chacha, Mussa and Alphonce escorted me up to the doctors. I paid the fee to see him and went it practically straight away. He examined it and after congratulating me on my successful climb prescribed anti inflammatory tablets and antibiotics, I was told to try not burst the blood blister and keep a very close eye on it for infection. So after picking up the meds I was finally on way to hotel for a shower - a much needed and wanted shower!

I told the guys we'd see them at seven am as were would be leaving Moshi to travel to Arusha for the next stage of this adventure in Tanzania.

Next time - our Osiligi Orphanage experience.

So five years after setting this challenge and all the set backs with my health that kept seeing me have to delay - it finally happened, the toughest endurance challenge I have done to date by far, but the one of the things I am so very proud of accomplishing. Putting out a positive message not only to others newly diagnosed, going through treatments or surviving like me with cancer but any illness that we can set ourselves personal challenges that will test us and push us to our personal limitations. We can all challenge ourselves to our own personal Everest if we set our minds to it. Go challenge yourself and see the pleasure you will feel at the end.

I came, I climbed and I conquered - Mount.Kilimanjaro February 6th 2015.

Until next time