Wednesday, August 10, 2016

A Finer Madness

Those of you who have not read my earlier blog would fail to see the connection in the title
So here is the link to the Part 1


A lot can happen over a coffee ; goes the catchphrase for a coffee chain ad.
Whoever wrote this knew what she/he was talking about.
In the cold evenings over the new year, the three protagonists of part 1 were warming themselves with endless cups of the excellent coffee that was being served at Dama Pykova ( )

New year is the time to lick the wounds, make new resolutions and all such inanities. It did not take long to conclude that a second visit to the majestic Kilimanjaro is due.

So the die was cast; before the adrenalin could die out, we booked the tickets, paid for the tour operator. Sort of a financial commitment to ensure that we do not back off.

And July-August saw us revisit the place that can be called "the torture chamber where we willingly submit and pay for it too" ; literally and metaphorically.

A few highlights from the trip:

  • For the records, all three made it to the top - so the next coffee session is not paved with any lurking danger :)
  • We reached Kilimanjaro on a Wednesday and Qatar Airways dutifully sent one of the items of luggage to Istanbul.
  • We were to start our climb on Thursday and decided to postpone it by a day. This turned out to be a blessing, as we could take rest and the luggage did arrive on Friday morning at 0600 hours just in time as we were starting at 0800 hours. 
  • The person whose luggage did not arrive had, by then, resigned to renting all gears necessary.
  • In retrospect, probably this made a significant difference. The weather was PERFECT on all days including the summit climbing night. The crowd was unbelievably thin. One could not have orchestrated it better.
  • We were also faster than the previous time.
  • We reached each destination at least two to three hours earlier than we did last time.
  • Reach early and you get a long rest before the killing routine the next day.
  • Also, the toilet was an improvement. No longer the cylindrical tall bucket which petrified us with a threat to topple. This time, we had a proper topple-proof toilet with a built in flush.
  • The loss of appetite was more pronounced.
  • We made the summit climb on Monday night and we, in fact, ate nothing (few slices of fruit and half a bowl of soup, strong cup of ginger tea loaded with sugar) between dinner on Sunday and lunch on Wednesday.
  • Our mothers would have been extremely happy if they had seen us on lunch time on Wednesday. 
  • How much we ate and how quickly we gobbled it up was beyond description.
A guide makes a difference.

It is often mentioned that experience has no equal. I saw a demonstration. Our Guide Omari Hoza kept a watchful eye on us throughout without becoming a dick, and often he would order one to step forward and take the lead and send another to the back. Hats off to him. By the way he has been a guide for 12 years now and he does about 20 to 25 climbs to Kili per year. Jaw drop!!!!

The Ghost Porters

The guides usually steal the limelight. But a word must be mentioned in the honour of the porters. They are there when we leave the camp. After we leave, they pack the tents, at times even our sleeping bags, somehow manage to cross us en route to the next camp, settle up everything and wait for us with everything in place. A.M.A.Z.I.N.G. Not once did they fail in their routine.

Lesson in humility

On the last day when we were ready to leave, the guide asked us to assemble and stood in front of us with folded hands and delivered a small talk. the gist was "We tried our best, we hope you are satisfied, if something was missing or not up to your expectation, I am sorry on behalf of my team".
Sounds plastic, right? Straight out of a customer satisfaction survey manual, right?
He said that with so much earnestness, it brought tears to my eyes. I choked in my reply. I made a promise, then and there, that if I return to Kili for any reason Omari shall be my guide. 
Later on, while waiting for the guide to collect our certificates, I was going through the guest notebook, where visitors left their impressions after their climb.
We fucking made it ! was one remark.
We conquered Kili was another


The climbing of a mountain must be an exercise in humility. It is expected to make you feel small. One must be thankful and express one's gratitude to the mountain for having allowed us, mere mortals, to stand atop her briefly.

If the feeling is one of "I have achieved", well, the mountain may have been climbed, but the person has , certainly, fallen.

My friends and other animals

And yes, we also did the customary safari for two days. When someone mentioned Ngorangoran crater, I expected a small valley with a water pool and all the animals converge there to drink, a la a Disney film. 

This crater was endless - must have been a few 1000 km2 in area. 

A stray thought..........

Besides porters and guides who do it for a profession, how many may have climbed Kili more than once? If someone ever decides to compile this statistic, I qualify.


  1. Great job accomplished and equally great way of expressing it from heart! I could visualise it as if you are in front of me telling the tales. Waiting for more photos. Congratulations once again and by the way, is that time now for one more tattoo?

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  3. Spot on - my tattoo should be over this weekend or latest by next :)