JEFF O’HARA ON CLIMBING KILIMANJARO

Mt. Kilimanjaro is for many people in life is a challenge that will remain on a bucket list if you will for a very long time, it’s a mountain that seems far too big to conquer for the average person like myself.
But if you try just like I did, in return one of the 7 summits of the world, Africa’s highest peak at 5,895 meters awaits you.
On this trip we had 12 awesome folks, from Ireland, Scotland, United States and Australia each and every person wanted to get to the top of Mt Kilimanjaro with the most exciting enthusiasm and sense of purpose that is hard to find in even the most determined and focused group of people.
27 porters carried our food and gear which included some of the nicest guides, head guides and leader you will ever meet. Some didn’t look strong, some didn’t look fit, some looked too old, but you should never judge a book by its cover, these guys knew exactly what they were doing!
We hiked for the next 6 days from the rain forest, to the rocky surrounds on Kilimanjaro.
It was a sensational hike and I am so glad I stopped along the journey, as I hiked up over the 6 days to enjoy the canopy of the forest, waterfalls, wildlife, the wide open spaces, the vantage points from each hut/camp and to look and respect the mountain of Kilimanjaro commands in the distance and as it nears closer.
I found the route a nice way to get to the top of Mt Kilimanjaro BUT I just wanted to spend more time out in this great place, so friends my advice pick a longer route! , and a few folks got a little sick from the altitude with the quick ascent.
The highlight for me was making it to Gilman’s point, as I set out to on Summit night at midnight, I was determined that no matter what I would make it to the top, the long line of head torches that stretched from Kibo hut to Gilmans point was long, and full of eager, excited, worried faces that just wanted to get to the top.
Stepping out of the camp at one minute past midnight spirits were high with happy new year! from all! My New Years Resolution was set! Make it to the Top!
Reaching the top of Gilman’s point just in time for the breathtaking view as the sun rises over a great land, the snow capped mountain, this one must be seen to be believed! Exhausted I took a seat on a rock just behind the sign, I shed a tear or two as the sun rose, It was out of this world and something special! I will never forget. I hugged some random trekkers with a sense of pride at what we had achieved!
The decision to press on to Uhuru point over the top of Kilimanjaro was an easy one, I was full of energy, slow, but excited, it took a further 1.5 hours to reach Uhuru point, but it looked so close, trekking over the snow covered mountain was exciting , looking around at the ice formations, the grand crater will be etched in my mind for the rest of my life!
I made it to the peak just after 8am,  with a overwhelming sense of achievement, took my picture at the Uhuru peak sign, reflected on the year gone past, thought about the year ahead and everything I wanted to achieve in the next 12 months, I could not believe the spectacular view from 5,895 meters or 19,341 feet.
With a quick descent right down to Kibo, Horombo huts  and than the gate the next day, its so true, as you drop in altitude the body gets so much more energy!
Arriving back at the hotel with the help of our small army it was hard to think we had done this in 6 short days, I had the great privilege of shaking each hand of the crew, saying a few short words of thanks and handing out the tips.
This was a great way to start 2014 may it continue the way it has started! I am heading to Mera and Island peaks with Ian Taylor Trekking in April. Can’t Wait.

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