Butiama Bed & Breakfast

Butiama Bed & Breakfast

Friday, June 17, 2011

Mary Kalikawe and William Rutta reach the summit of Mt. Kilimanjaro: post 3 of 4

Mary Kalikawe is the Managing Director of Kiroyera Consulting, a tourism company based in Bukoba which opened a branch office in Mwanza in 2010. She joined the 3rd Annual Mwalimu Nyerere/Mt. Kilimanjaro Climb last year. This is the third of four posts of her experience, in her own words:
Mary Kalikawe
Mount Kilimanjaro climbing was very haaard!! While Jaffar and Madaraka climbed on the Lemosho route, I and William used the Marangu route, the narrow heavily-trodden path between that goes through the Horombo and Mandara Huts. I had left the gruesome climb behind and felt pain in my legs and thighs but smelling ‘triumph’ and longing to tell the whole world about my success in reaching the almost “unreachable” Uhuru Peak at my age of beyond forty!

On the steep slopes during the night climb to the summit, the mountain guides and porters who had been with us during the climb on previous days hugged me to avert a fatal fall backwards on the steep slopes down the mountain. Their jackets stunk of sweat. Mind you, we had been without bathing for five days. I guess I too was not smelling of roses. We continued through the night and after seven hours of excessive endurance beyond what I could ever imagine was within my capability, we had reached Gilman's Point!
At Gilman's Point: One down, one to go.
Gilman’s Point is the first point on the peak that is 200m lower than Uhuru Peak, the highest point of Kilimanjaro and of the whole of Africa. From that point I still had another three hours of climbing to get to Uhuru Peak. Those who saw my slow pace did not believe I could come this far! Scores of people who began with us at midnight had turned back due to fatigue, bad weather, and sheer fear.

The question ‘why am I torturing?’ myself kept ringing in my head. There are many possible answers. For one thing, the panorama at Gilman's point is a reward worth exerting for. The glaciers in the foreground of the deep crater valleys, the snow covered rugged surfaces and, above all, the much needed cup of tea served by my mountain guide Deo were all energy infusing.

At this point I made the decision to reach Uhuru peak for enjoying the glory of it. The contributions to BUDAP and Chief Edward Wanzagi’s school did not demand that I get up to Uhuru Peak. Gilman’s point was a lot more than enough. But the guide, in disbelief, but seeing my renewed energy and enthusiasm to proceed said it will be an hour to Stella Point, two hours to Uhuru peak.
Finally, I reached Uhuru Peak, the highest point on the African continent.
I did it! And got a milliard accolades of congratulations but my guide was the brunt of a thousand complaints over factors he could not control: Why was the Uhuru peak signboard so far? Why do we still have to climb, didn’t you say we are almost there? And so on, and so forth.
William Rutta at the summit.

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