For reasons that elude me now I failed to post my Kilimanjaro diary when we ascended that mound in 2014. As my thoughts now turn to the Salkantay Track and our walk up that path to Machu Picchu I dug out my diary/log from our previous expedition. My final entry is an interesting prelude to our next major adventure.
23rd December 2014
On QF566 and an hour out from Sydney. And so it ends. I have done the last head count and with it the cares of the trip drop away. It has mostly gone as planned though the unexpected cost of tipping porters is a disappointment as were the additional costs here and there which I had attempted to cover in the planning. Everyone seems to have accepted these surprises with good grace but I am keenly feeling them as planning failures. I console myself with the fact that I have taken 15 trekkers to the top of one of the worlds deadliest mountains (more ‘climbers’ die here than anywhere else) and back without mishap.
It is no cheap rationalisation to say everyone has achieved an altitude ‘PB’ as this climb, summit or not, was an arduous exercise that tested the resolve and physical strength of all. The side of that mountain and the frozen gale that cut through us each step of the way required an uncommon grit and perseverance which was visible in all the team and of which I am both impressed and proud. Third party observers tell us the achievement is rare, one citing by way of example the 20 strong Norwegian group who set out the week prior to our arrival and of which only 7 arrived at the top. I am doubly pleased that the diagnosis and descent decision with our one HACE case was the right call. A death averted is no small thing and I count it on the asset side of my mental ledger.
As with all these trips I am emotionally hung over as well as relieved at this point. I have no idea if this is a trip deemed valuable by the travellers (I know they liked the safari accommodation!) but hope it is another volume they can add to their encyclopaedia of stories. That is partly what this is about after all. Planning is underway for Machu Picchu in 18 months time.
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