Jambo Kilimanjaro!

5th August 2014

For our regular blog readers, and those close to Althams on a personal level, you will know that our MD James Altham is somewhat fearless - others would say crazy! From cycling across Europe to his Tough Mudder challenge and regular charity cycle races; Jim is not one to do things in half attempts. In celebration of his big 40 James decided to climb Kilimanjaro along with his wife - much to her excitement. The six day trip took them to the highest "walkable" mountain in the world and the highest mountain in Africa. Kilimanjaro is 5895m above sea level and formed by three dormant volcanoes; Shira, Mawenzi and Kibo. Although fitness is importance the biggest obstacle to overcome when climbing "Kili" is the altitude.

Kili way of life was very different to life at home, most importantly the butchers! Without the tech and infrastructure we have here in the UK, they hung their meat in a little pop-up shack with no protection from the air or heat! There were no toilets or showers, so members of the group soon became very close friends. Being made up of dormant volcanoes, the surface of Kilimanjaro is very rocky and uneven. The daily walks were made easier with the help of the local porters, who carried things not needed throughout the day, such as tents and sleeping bags. The porters who climb Kilimanjaro with ease on a very regular basis, then set up camp and began cooking dinner with the chefs whilst the group of walkers reached the sleeping destination each night.

It took 4 days for them to reach Base Camp, from where with just a few hours' sleep they began the hardest and last part of their journey - summit night! 4 days of the mountain life without a toilet, sleeping in tents on uneven ground and experiencing temperatures of -15 degrees had taken its toll of some members of the group who didn't make the whole journey. Despite these obstacles James and his wife left Base Camp at midnight with around three hours sleep, to begin the 7 hour trek to the top! The pace was very slow, but after passing groups that had overtaken their own group on the way up, who were now buckled on the floor through altitude sickness they were grateful!

Leaving Base Camp at midnight meant that they summited in time for sunrise and James' wife described how she felt like she could see the curvature of the earth from the top of Kili. For those who have read our earlier blogs you will know that last year James cycled from Latvia to Southampton for charity Hope For Justice. This journey mimicked the journey taken by 'Zoe' who travelled to the UK from Latvia in the hope of promised employment. Hope For Justice is a charity which aims in eliminating human trafficking for the purpose of slavery, sexual exploitation and other crimes. This year their fundraiser was focused on walking distance to raise awareness for human trafficking, so as you can see on the photos James took Hope For Justice with him!

To support Hope For Justice please visit their website www.hopeforjustice.org.uk