Intrepid explorer and Deki fundraiser Amar Mistry, and his team of 8 have returned from their 19,000ft climb to the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro, in Tanzania. After raising over £1,000 for Deki, they can now without a doubt claim they've, "been there, done that, got the (Deki) t-shirt". After arriving home, we asked Amar some questions so we could learn more about the trip.
Hi Amar, you made it! Welcome back, tell us a little about the climb, what you were trying to achieve, and what it meant for you and your fellow adventurers.
Thanks, the climb was a tough seven day trek up the tallest freestanding mountain in the world! 8 of us from different walks of life attempted the climb and we were all fundraising for Deki with a view to helping entrepreneurs in developing countries across the world. It was one of the hardest challenges that any of us had ever attempted and we were all keen to experience the view from the 'Roof of Africa' whilst having some fun and supporting Deki.
Since 99.9% of us have never climbed Mt Kilimanjaro, give us a glimpse into what an average day was like, and how tough it was.
A typical day started with a breakfast of pancakes, porridge and fruit (as well as such much needed coffee) and preparation for the day ahead. With a short medical test to ensure we were all healthy enough (blood oxygen rate/heart rate measurements etc) and lots of water packed into our bags (at least 3L) we set off for the day. Walking very slowly as led by our guide we trekked for anywhere between 4- 14 hours every day.
The day was filled with conversation, songs, and games when everybody was in good spirits, but could often be quiet if the effects of the altitude were being felt. The terrain ranged from rainforest, barren dessert type land and some rocky parts that we'd have to use our hands to climb as well. The views were incredible and at times felt we were on another planet.
The day ended with us having dinner (usually soup followed by rice/pasta and a stew of some sort) and resting with an early night after a short briefing for the next day's work. We did have a few evening games and there was even a ghost story night as well! The porters and guides were really friendly and several times broke into song and dance as we entered the campsite.
Most of the days were long but if you had been affected by altitude sickness then it would be a real struggle - one of the keys was to eat well; difficult if you have no appetite after being sick!
Did all of you finish the climb? Tell us about some of the difficulties you faced?
6 out of 8 of us made it to the top summit – with one having to turn back half way up on summit day! The first night was particularly difficult as we arrived to camp a little late, met with darkness and rain - much of our stuff was soaked it wasn't a good way to start the hike! All was forgotten however when we woke up above the clouds however!
Altitude sickness was a tough one and we had a running 'Vomit Club' that all bar one person joined! We were lucky enough to pack snacks that we were used to training with and we all remained positive enough to support each other through the worst of it all. Another 'fun' challenge were the bathroom arrangements, squat toilets come as standard along the way and some of the facilities had no door!
The training clearly paid off then! Would you have done anything differently? What about the actual ascent?
It’s difficult to say what I would have done differently - I think we were lucky to have a good group supported by a quality team of guides and porters.
The actual ascent was the hardest day - we woke up at 11pm and were climbing by midnight. We rose frustratingly slowly in the cold and dark, lit only by our headlamps. Everybody had many layers with long johns, heavy duty gloves, hats and scarves all worn. Due to the cold, even breaks were kept to a minimum and though we started out bubbly and full of life and chat, this slowly ebbed away. A few times the guides had to have motivational words with a few of us and they even broke out into impromptu song towards the top - all to help motivate us to reach the top.
When the sun rose (6am -ish) we perked up a little but realised that we still had a lot to climb! There was a lot of loose rock that we were climbing so sometimes you'd slip backwards slightly as we were rising. This was definitely the toughest day and we had 7 hours of a constant uphill with little to no respite before we made it.
Looking at the photos, it’s clear that the view was absolutely incredible, what was the feeling like when you reached the summit?
There was a mixture of reactions at the top - I was quite giddy and found everything hilarious! Others were overcome with emotion and one of the strongest in our group had no energy at all! One of our group was actually annoyed that we were all celebrating as once you reach the summit there is another 30 minute walk to the actual peak of the mountain!
In the end though there were lots of pictures, congratulations and a huge sense of relief! The views were stunning and it did feel as though we were on top of the world. We saw glaciers, endless clouds and the huge crater of Kilimanjaro.
We saw you wore a couple of Deki tshirts on the way up! What was the first thing you did when you got all the way down again?
Yes - as our dedicated cause we were keen to showcase Deki at all stages of the journey - plus at times we were running out of clean t shirts!
Top three things were to have a shower, a beer and use the wifi to let people know we were alive!
On the final day it was the oldest of our group's (my uncle Navin) Birthday; when we reached the exit gate the company we used had arranged for a cake, some bubbly and another round of dancing to celebrate my uncle's Birthday.
Would you put yourself through this experience again? Surely it’s going to be Everest next time?
Haha, I don't think I will do anything so strenuous - at least in the near future, Everest will have to wait! We really appreciate the support from Kibosho Tours out there - they really looked after us and I'd certainly recommend them for anybody else thinking about climbing.
You’ve beaten your fundraising target of £1,000. Are people still able to donate if they haven’t already?
Yes the page will remain open for a few more months, so please give generously - there were some people that wanted to see if we made it back before they supported!
We really appreciate all of contributions from everybody and hoping that it will help Deki continue their great work. We're also hopeful that people will take a little time to understand the Deki model and would consider lending through them in the future, its an innovative approach to development and one that I'm glad to be a part of.
A big personal thank you to everybody for their well wishes, gifts of equipment, and donations - and most of all to the seven that climbed with me; it was a once in a lifetime trip and glad to have shared it with some great friends, family and colleagues!