On 30th January 2010 at 9am I successfully climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro to Stella Point at 5,756m the highest free-standing mountain in the world – Mt Kilimanjaro in Tanzania. Mt Kilimanjaro is the highest mountain in Africa, the world's highest free standing mountain, the tallest volcano in the world and one of the worlds seven highest summits. 

The trek took me through the rainforest of the Lemosho Glades to the west of the mountain, before pushing up across the Shira Plateau towards the Karanga Valley then towards my goal of - Uhuru Peak hiking for 6 - 10 hours each day to reach. After 7 days of hard walking I arrived at Barafu Camp 4,600m on the 29th January around midday.

I left Barafu Camp at around 11pm that evening and started the summit hike through the night, the terrain was rocky, the pace was slow, it was freezing cold and hard work.

Around 6am the sun started to appear and I felt great, at around 8am I started to feel tired like I just wanted to go to sleep but I just kept walking onwards I could see Stella Point and knew the sign post at Uhuru peak was not far from there.

At 9am I reached Stella Point 5,756m, I was stopped by one of our guides and advised that I should not go any further to the sign post at Uhuru Peak. I felt really tired and had fallen asleep on a previous rest stop but other than that I felt fine. I could see Uhuru Peak 5,895m in the distance about 20min walk. I felt fine I told the guides and I carried on. A moment later I had blacked out coming back round confused, disorientated and upset.

Yes I blacked out. The guides decided I had to go back down to Barafu straight away helped me to my feet and started taking me down. I now had a huge headache, felt sick, my eye sight went funny and I blacked out two more times on the way down. A Doctor from another group came to check on me he decided I had symptoms of High altitude cerebral edema which is a severe form of altitude sickness. Symptoms therefore usually include those of acute mountain sickness (nausea, insomnia, weakness, and dizziness) plus headache, loss of coordination and decreasing levels of consciousness including disorientation, loss of memory, hallucinations and irrational behavior. The dangers of HACE are compounded by the tendency of its victims to deny having any problems at all. The Doctor gave me a tablet Nifedipine 10mg which is also used in high altitude medicine. He advised I was taken back to Barafu to sleep for a while.

The guides helped me all the way back to Barafu Camp I was seen by the camp Doctor who told me to get some rest for an hour before our final descent that day to Millennium Camp. After an hours rest I felt much better and was ready to move on to the lower camp for the evening.

I was happy I had made it to the top of Kilimanjaro before falling ill and apparently the sign post was not that impressive!

Thank you to everyone who sponsored me and believed in me I hope you are impressed with my reaching the top of Kilimanjaro, Stella Point. 

Thank you to all the guides, porters and doctors that helped me on my trip. Thank you to TTC www.tanzaniatravelcompany.com who were out Tour Company for this trip. I also did a Safari day with them. All their staff are knowledgeable and amazing people if you ever wish to travel to Africa I recommend using this tour company.  

Also I managed to raise thousands for my charity which was the main aim of the challenge. I did this challenge to help raise money for a charity in my home town of Andover, Hampshire. The Countess of Brecknock Hospice, who took care of my Granny before she sadly passed away with cancer in 2007.

As I is self funded the challenge all donations go straight to The Countess of Brecknock Hospice. Their six-bedded in-patient unit not only provides palliative medicine and terminal care, but many patients are admitted for short term symptom control and then return home to have many months of improved quality of life, possibly before being re-admitted for terminal care. The Countess of Brecknock Hospice was founded with the support of Macmillan Cancer Relief following the successful establishment of two Macmillan nurses, and became an independent charitable trust in April 1998.

Still collecting sponsors at www.justgiving.com/melissa-tucker

Mt Kilimanjaro - The Lemosho Trail - January 2010 - THE PLAN

Mt Kilimanjaro is situated in Tanzania, Africa. Uhuru Peak Kilimanjaro's highest point stands at an impressive  5,895m. It is Africa's highest point, The World's largest free - standing mountain, one of the world's largest volcanos and also one of the world's seven highest continental summits!

The Lemosho Trail approaches the Mountain from the west. The Lemosho Trail is longest route on the mountain it allows you to ascend to the plateau on foot and offers the best opportunity to acclimatise properly ahead of the summit bid. This route is very isolated and remote, a good way to escape the crowds!

Day 1: 22nd January - Depart from UK on an overnight flight.

Day 2: 23rd January - Meet the local guides and transfer to Arusha. Briefing over dinner about the challenge.

Day 3 : 24th January - Londorossi Gate to Mti Mkubwa - 2,800m - Registration at Londorossi Gate, transfer to Lemosho Glades; trek through the rainforest to Mti Mkubwa (Big Tree) Campsite. Trek 3-5 hrs.

Day 4 : 25th January - Mti Mkubwa to Shira Cave 1 - 3,400m - Full 8 hr of trekking. Ascending through dense rainforest. By lunch time we should reach the high altitude desert plateau - Shire Caldera. Should see the first view of Kibo - the summit cone of Kilimanjaro!

Day 5 : 26th January - Shira Cave 1 to Shira Hut 2 - 3,900m - Leaving Shira Cave elevation gain of 500m in 5hrs we will proceed east across the Shira Plateau. This is a day of slow altitude gain.

Day 6 : 27th January - Shira Hut 2 to Barranco Camp - 3,900m - 7 - 10hrs trekking today ascending across a small desert and rocky landscape surrounding the Lava Tower (4,600m) then we descend to our camp site at 3,900m.

Day 7 : 28th January - Barranco Camp to Karanga Valley - 4,100m - Continue trekking today tackling the volcanic rock barrier known as Great Barranco. From here you can see Mt Meru on the plains below. This will take a full 5 hours.

Day 8 : 29th January - Karanga Valley to Barafu Hut - 4,600m - Today is another acclimatisation Day as we ascend, and then descend back down into the valleys. Rest in camp tomorrow is THE DAY !!!!

Day 9 : 30th January (MY 28th BIRTHDAY!!!) - Barafu Hut to UHURU PEAK - 5,895m - SUMMIT DAY! 12am trekking up scree slopes for approx 4-5hrs. Arrive at Stella Point 5,750m where we will stop for a rest. From there we take the path on up to Uhuru Peak the Summit of Kilimanjaro. Time for a few photos and then the long descent down to Millennium Camp.

Day 10 : 31st January - Millennium Camp to Mweka Gate - Final 6 hours of trekking to Mweka Gate, then a short drive to stop at a hotel in Arusha for a hot shower! (I will be smelling by then!)

Day 11 : 1st Feburary - Free Time !!! Flight Home :(

Day 12 : 2nd Feburary - Arrive back in UK.

 More about Kilimanjaro :

Temperatures on Kilimanjaro can vary wildly. At the foot of the mountain the temperature can exceed 30oc, whilst on the summit it can plunge to below -20oc, the wind chill and moisture in the clouds can make it feel even colder than this. Although it is possible to climb Kilimanjaro all year around their are more preferable times of the year, but even during this time the weather can be erratic and difficult to predict. Ideally the mountain should be tackled during one of the two dry seasons. Mid-December to March or July to Early-October. The hottest months are January, February and September. The ideal months to climb are January and February, just after the major rains, as the weather improves and the mountain is freshly covered by snow.

At the equator, the sun rises and sets at a fairly consistent time thoughout the year. Sunrise tends to occur around 6:30am and sunset takes place approx 12hrs later 6.30pm.


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