This was by far one of the best excursions that I have led.
If you have been following keenly, you probably know about the destination change for August’s climb. Because of ground logistic issues, Olorgesaille seemed a difficult task, and so left with few options (Suswa or Menengai), we opted for Longonot, again.
This was my third visit to Longonot, and I think I was comfortable with that. However, what perturbed me was taking 16 other people up the mountain.
Confident of the ground arrangements made well in advance, I was ready to risk it. I let those wishing to come at the last minute hope on board and in the end we had a good team, some men, who were of great help, and people with a positive attitude.
So, on the morning of 21st August 2016, I sent everyone a wake up text at 5.05am. Little did I know that I would be jilted by the contracted car driver. He made me wait at home till 6.35 with no signs of showing up. People were already arriving at the pick-up points and the driver was still not anywhere near the area. So, I went off to meet the people at the pick up point, while liaising with the car company to send an alternate driver. Who eventually showed up and hour later, delaying us by an hour.
However, with good weather in our favor, we arrives late but in good time to begin the ascent a little past 10am.
Because we were a huge number, I didn’t want to hold back anyone who could make it faster up the mountain. I stayed behind with team members who were slower and realized that the KWS Ranger whom I had booked for the trip was totally pissed (trust me I have used him before and he was great then).
Anyway, mid way up the mountain I had to call the Caretaker’s office to ask for a replacement Ranger as he was beginning to misbehave with the women. So, Abaroba was replaced by Zealot and he was patient enough to take the slower members up the mountain.
Finally, by 1pm, everyone had made it up to the Summit. Everyone! Can you believe that. Even those who had come pre-medidtated to turn back half way pushed on towards the top. We had lunch, took some memorable pictures and then those who wanted to, proceeded to go round the rim.
Now this was a first for me. I have never been round the rim before. Several reasons for not having done that in the past:
- The rim is 7.2kms (almost double the distance to the summit) and takes 2 – 3 hours to complete
- The peaks on the summit seem much steeper to climb
- It’s always harder going down the mountain that up, and so it was always a better idea to conserve energy for the descent
And these were the same reasons I declined, yet again to go round the summit this time too.
Once all those who had departed with the ranger, twenty minutes later, I decided to go for it. Who knows if I’m ever going to come back to this mountain, and I am not going to make a special trip to come back to it just to climb the rim, so what the heck. I started on my own. Alone.
There were several moments on the rim when I felt like turning back. The views were magnificent, but the fear and panic of “being lost”, “falling down” were rampant in my mind.
Of course there was only one path on that rim, and yes, falling down would have been nasty, but non of that happened. I was also scared because suddenly, the sunny bright skies had turned grey and gloomy and threatened to pour, and there were a few droplets of rain, and that sent me whizzing up and down the path towards the others.
When I finally did manage to get network on my phone I called a friend and asked him to wait up ahead. 45 mins later I caught up with 5 of the guys who had slowed down. Relief.
We continued the journey together, and boy, was it difficult.
At some points we were climbing up rocky walls almost vertical to the ground. And then climbing down these on lose gravel was another feat.
By the time we reached the summit (the real summit, now 2,780m asl) we were dead. I couldn’t be bothered to look pretty for the camera and ended up with terrible pics, but hey, the dead was done.
Next began our return journey. Someone did mention there were six peaks to cover on the rim, and I thought they were joking. But they weren’t. The journey seemed unending, and the peaks kept on growing higher and higher. We were all at the verge of giving up, but turning back and going through that climb again, was out of the question.
So we treaded forward, and the clouds finally broke and we were rained upon. No one took a jacket because the skies were clear. So, we continued, drenched. But the views were amazing overlooking the rift valley and the land formations.
By the time we got to the hut, two hours late, everyone else had already began their ascent back. We met them in the vehicle and hour later and the headed back home. It was late, In the evening, and everyone was tired, but the trip was worthwhile. Everyone had fun, and most importantly, we had good team work.
I received a very encouraging message from George, yes my evil tennis coach, who wanted to come along and so was one of the last minute additions. He later texted:
…Very Thankful Alia, had fun and above all learnt a lot. Proud of you as our leader Despite all led from behind till the end. Good Job…Keep the spirit, you are a star…
That just made it all worthwhile.
Until the next one!