Ascent to Kilimanjaro-Mandara Huts on 2018-07-07

Climber: John Hasch

Others in Party:21 other members of CMF's 2018 Kilimanjaro team fundraising for Joska Girls' High School
Missions of Hope
Date:Saturday, July 7, 2018
Ascent Type:Unsuccessful - Turned Back
Point Reached:Kilimanjaro - Mandara Huts
    Elevation:8940 ft / 2724 m
    Remaining Elevation:10401 ft / 3171 m (78% left to go)

Ascent Trip Report

"Seven Summits" Continent HP – AFRICA
19341 ft.


Saturday, 7/7/2018

I am just now posting something about the trip because, frankly, the hike part of it was a bust for me. We were on a 6-day ascent via the Marangu route - 4 days up and 2 days down - that was supposed to be among the easier routes. Of our team of 22 climbers, 17 made the summit this trip. One of the "incompleters" made the summit on a prior attempt, so a total of 18 from our group has stood on the top of Africa. That's a success rate of 18/22, or 81%, which by my standards is a high rate.

Sadly, I was not one of the completers. In fact, my overall experience was similar to the report I gave about my earlier attempt on Guadalupe Peak a couple weeks before I flew to Africa. My physical condition made the first day difficult for me. It was about 5 miles total, with about 2900 feet of gain. Those stats are not too different from Guadalupe Peak. My results were similar. I did well the first half, but my performance dropped dramatically the second half of the hike. In fact, I was the last person to arrive at Day 1 camp, by a wide margin.

(EDITORIAL NOTE: Having successfully climbed the 2900 feet of Day 1, I recognize that I would have indeed reached the summit of Guadalupe Peak with that effort. So I am not intimidated about returning to Texas some day soon so that I can get that job done too. For some reason, far too often, it takes me two times to get the job done.)

That night, I got to thinking about the rest of the trip - at least 3 days with efforts similar to or greater than that required on Day 1. I calculated that I already had a slim chance of summitting based on Day 1 results. I inquired and it was confirmed that there would, indeed, be a turn around point where slow summit day hikers would not be permitted to complete the journey.

With the likelihood of not summiting, I lost all motivation to continue. After I slept on it, I made the decision not to continue, a decision that I may forever regret. The next morning, as the team continued on for Day 2, I hiked back to the gate and terminated my stay on the mountain.

I returned to the hotel to wait for the team's return several days later. The time was not lost, however. I joined a family who had scheduled some activities, including two different 1-day safaris to some nearby national parks. The 3 days of "tourism" resulted in some great encounters with all major African wildlife, including lions, cheetahs, elephants, rhinos, hippos, crocodiles, giraffes, and various types of four-legged herding animals such as buffalo, impalas, gazelles, and wildebeests. The cultural part of the journey was definitely worth it, so the trip was not a total loss.

Also, I had opportunity to visit some of the mission sites where our team was raising money for expansion. I met with a missionary who is from my home church. And I got into the slum community of Nairobi to meet with residents and hear first-hand their reality of life and how the missions are teaming with them to make life better.

So, in the end, I rate the trip overall as a success even though I did not attain my goal of summiting Kilimanjaro. I was on the trail and have a good understanding of what it will take to be successful. My training efforts were misplaced this year. I spent too much time emphasizing walking (over 400 miles in the prior 6 months) and not enough time and training in upper leg muscle-building activities such as climbing stairs, stair-step machines or treadmills on an incline. Also, losing some additional weight would be a tremendous benefit. The guides and porters are all very helpful and encouraging, and I believe I can do what it takes to make a successful climb. I am not discouraged. Rather, I will, if the Lord is willing, return one day soon to give Kilimanjaro another try. My current target will be to return in January 2020 to get the job done.

I have a lot of great photos of my experience in Africa, and I am willing to share my story wherever folks are willing to listen. A friend's interest motivated me to post this recap on Peakbagger for all to see. I have tucked my tail and admitted defeat - this time.
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:2854 ft / 869 m
    Round-Trip Distance:10.4 mi / 16.7 km
    Route:Marangu Route
    Trailhead:Marangu Gate  6086 ft / 1855 m

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