Molly Sim, Age 21, Surrey/Sheffield, United Kingdom
Machame Route 6 Days, September 2019
This was undoubtably the best experience of my life and I owe it all to the amazing people that kept me in safe hands throughout the trip! It was definitely a challenge. On day two, when the altitude sickness hit hard, I even remember saying ‘I recommend this to absolutely nobody’, but I would honestly do it all again in a heartbeat if I could!
I got involved with climbing Kilimanjaro through a charity called Dig Deep - working to provide taps, toilets and sanitation training to communities and schools in rural Kenya – who organise teams of university students to undertake the challenge. One of my best friends was the team-leader for the Sheffield group and she was constantly trying to recruit, so one day I just thought ‘Why not? What have you got to lose?’. The best decision I ever made!
All the hard work fundraising made reaching the summit that much more rewarding, and it was amazing to share this experience with a group of like-minded people, some of whom I know will be friends for life! Although we were mostly students, there were a few recent graduates and a couple in their 50s. Having so many people around, with different interests, stories and music tastes meant that there was never a dull moment! We all felt like one big family, leaning (sometimes quite literally) on each other to make sure everyone made it.
I was definitely nervous about aspects of the climb. Of not doing enough training, not making it to the summit, letting down everyone who had helped me fundraise. Asking myself ‘How on earth will I get up the Barranco wall?’ I had tortured myself for months watching videos of this part of the trek, however it actually ended up being my favourite part! You can really only prepare so much, and taking everything one step at a time got me to the summit.
There were, however, a few things my team and I learnt the hard way: sunburn on your lips/scalp is a very real thing and protein bars taste worse with altitude!
The real reason I made it to the top, and back down again, were African Scenic Safaris guides and porters, honestly my heroes. I was the very last person to make it back to basecamp after summit night but I had two guides with me the whole way down and our head-guide George even walked back up to meet me. What a legend!
I will never get tired of talking about this adventure, but the best thing I can say is to just give it a go! You’ll meet some incredible people and experience so much that is impossible to put into words, there’s really no way you can regret it!