Wednesday 31 March 2010

A Note from Stephen

Hello it's Stephen Roberts here.

Having not had a chance or access to the blog due to technical reasons during the trek, I'd like to take this opportunity to thank everybody that supported me financially with sponsorship and also physically (the Trekkers and support staff). It was an unforgettable experience with an amazing group of people for a terrific cause. My Wife Nicola is also deserving of a special mention as it was a difficult time for her and I'm sure all other partners of loved ones while we were often out of communication.

I'd like to dedicate my adventure to the memory of my Mum Frances, from whom my determination comes and without which I would not have made the summit (there was also a lot of luck involved !).

Stephen Roberts.

Saturday 27 March 2010

The Final Day

should I have a shave now???
John writes:

Following summitting yesterday we wake to the strange sights of us looking like we have all had plastic surgery! Weather beaten, sunburned there are also a few with painful snowblindness. The porters tell us that this has been the hardest weather on the mountain for years. We club gear together to leave them, gloves, sleeping bags, poles, gators are piled up & then tips are collected & we experience the final singing & dancing before they are given out to the cries of RESPECT! MAXIMUM!

We head off for the last trek to the gate & what was billed as 3 hrs turns easily to more than 5! Knees are done in. Beer & good food at the bottom though along with a monsoon type shower but we don't care.

Every day of this trip has been different & great. Best bit was seeing my wife coming back from the Uhuru Peak as I was slowly making the last 1km there. We were separated during the night & the doc got me confused with another guy & told her I was sent down.

To reach the peak was great & better because I did it with Steve Hyde, the man I talked into coming with us for his 50th.

Had a phenominal experience but I am never doing this again & camping will be in hotels from now on!

Beer time!

John McCallum

John has also sent over some photos of the last few days, you can view them here.

Friday 26 March 2010

The Trek - Day 6

Kathleen writes:

These past 2 days have been very gruelling. We left for the summit at midnight after 3 hrs sleep following a 10 hr trekking day. The weather on the ascent was particularly inclement and unexpected. Driving winds & snow compounded the freezing temperatures & several attempting summity including porters were fighting off frostbite with handwarmers. As we reached heights of 5000m the guides came into their own. The air was so thin that breathing was so difficult. Some lay down in the snow questioning if they could go on, others had no choice as eyes and legs went & without asking they were carried off to a lower & safe altitude by porters. I was walking towards the peak with Graeme when a guide ran up and grabbed him having seen the signs of Acute Mountain Sickness, he then walked the rest of the way to the peak & down with him.

The top of Kilimanjaro was beautiful, we could see Lake Victoria, Mount Meru and the plains & lush green of Tanzania. The descent was however another painful matter. Due to the usual snowfall over the past month it was very slow and difficult without crampons. Some of the guys were rushed down due to altitude or in my case I made it halfway back & then a kind porter helped with support & carrying the daypack back to camp. We got back & after soup had another 2hr trek to a new lower camp for dinner which was bittersweet.

For those who didn't summit there was disappointment and this included some of the fittest people I have ever met. It's no wonder they never televised the Comic Relief descent, mind you we have seen several helipads along this route. Heading back to Moshi this morning & we will all share in celebrating these past days & new friendships over a few beers tonight. Kathleen

Thursday 25 March 2010

The Trek - Day 5

Chris writes:

Completed summit climb successfully. It was the hardest thing I have ever done and have no plans to repeat! We started the climb in a snow blizzard and 12 of our party were unsuccessful, including the trek leader. Including the summit climb we have just finished a 36 hour day with 3 hour break!

Wednesday 24 March 2010

The Trek - Day 4

Chris writes:

Started at 5.30 this morning, reached top of baranco wall at 9.30. You can now add nose bleeds to the list of altitude symptoms. Having a ball! Wish everyone was here (instead of me!). This seemed like such a good idea a year ago. Everyone nervous today as we start summit climb tonight at midnight!

Kathleen writes:

Have reached Karanga Hut for lunch today having conquered the Baranco Wall at first light, not for the faint hearted or those scared of heights. Couple of the guys struggling with fatigue following another difficult night, the altitude has affected us all & at different times. The weather has been very wet and the landscape barren so we have past the time playing games to keep each other going. Heading for karanga and high camp for a sleep ahead of summit tonight.

Tuesday 23 March 2010

The Trek - Day 3

Update from Chris:

Everyone has now been ill at some point ranging from dizzy spells to sickness and/or headaches. Torrential rain yesterday but cleared up today, scenery and views unbelieveable, when the mist lifts!

David Ramsay having a bad day today, he swears he heard a dog barking, we suspect hallucinations as we are at 4600 metres!

We are camping overnight at baranco wall, arrived here with mist and when mist lifted we are now faced with 350m sheer wall which is tomorrow's climb! After baranco wall tomorrow we rest for a couple of hours before the summit attempt at midnight.


The guys are having some technical difficulties at the moment (mainly a lack of mobile phone signal!), stay tuned for more updates once they are back in better coverage areas. In the meantime remember you can track their progress through this link. Click the "Satellite" button on the right of the map to see a good indication of how close they are to the summit.

Sunday 21 March 2010

The Trek - Day 1

Chris reports:

"Day 1, at 11am we had a shower, our colleagues through it was rain but us Scots knew different. At 2pm it really started raining, torrential. Thanks to my wife for making me bring a yellow poncho, even though I ended up looking like a drowned canary."

Ian reports:

"Day 1 trek completed, about 5 and a half hours through the rainforest, and they don't call it a rainforest for nothing! Rained for 2 hours, feet are gouping!"

Hamish update:

Final kit check with Hamish taking charge of the group:

Saturday 20 March 2010

Day 2 - Moshi

Easy day today before starting trek tomorrow at 7. Went 'shopping' to Moshi, a local shanty town. Very depressed and poverty everywhere. There were 12 of us and we were chaparoned by around 20 locals trying to get us to buy their wares. Very aggressive and not for the faint hearted!

Our fellow Trekkers from down south arrived today, spent the afternoon by the pool 'bonding'. We have been advised to expect rain tomorrow. Great!

Above photo: Our first peek at the top!

Hamish enjoying his breakfast

Friday 19 March 2010

Day 1 - The group arrives, Hamish takes control

We have arrived safely at Kilimanjaro Airport, and Ali has joined us, can you spot him? (click on a photo see a larger image)

While en route to Kilimanjaro, Hamish took the time to show the pilot and second officer how it should be done!

Stay tuned for more updates from the group!

Day 1 - Glasgow to Amsterdam

Arrived safe and sound in Amsterdam on the way to Tanzania. Roger was very disappinted to discover that we weren't actually on the redeye and that went from Glasgow to London.

He was further disapinted to learn that he wasn't actually getting a bed on the Amsterdam to Africa leg.

Nearly had the first disaster as myself and David deep in conversation tried to board the Glasgow flight to Palma. This also made us late and last to board our proper flight! Much to the disgust of our fellow travellers.

11 guys fully kitted in kilts provided some entertainment for other passengers!

John & Kathleen at Glasgow Airport

Ronnie stepping into Glasgow Airport - "I'm here!"

Hamish has arrived safe and sound in Amsterdam

Hamish travelling in style, could he get to see the captain?

Monday 15 March 2010


Click here to see our itinerary. Check back soon for more updates!

Featured Trekkers

Chris McMail

Chris McMail is Managing Director for Microtech Support Limited and has been since inception in March 1986.

Chris is married to Anne and has two gorgeous daughters Caitlin (10)
and Nicole (6).

"Having successfully completed a trek along The Great Wall of China last year in aid of The Ayrshire Hospice, I agreed in another moment of madness to take on this challenge for this worthwhile charity."

Stephen Roberts

"I live in Symington, am 41 years old, married to Nicola and a father of two small boys (Logan 3, Jackson 18mths)."

"I'm a Director of a company that makes Intensive Care rooms. I don't have any hobbies other than reading, as I spend my time working or with my family. Before I bought a house and a mortgage that could choke a herd of small donkeys, I used to like fast cars. "

Favourite Drink : Jack Daniels
Favourite Sport : Mixed martial arts
Favourite Car : 911
Best day : births of my Sons
Worst Day : likely to be
Thursday March 25th this year!
Second best day : hopefully Thursday March 25th this year!

"My Mum died in the Hospice - which is my connection to Louis and the gang."

John McCallum

"I was so inspired by my experience climbing the Great Wall of China last year to raise funds for the Ayrshire Hospice, punctuated by hearing stories from hospice workers and fellow trekkers who’s families have been cared for and supported by the service, I feel the ever more pressing need to support them during the current economic climate when funding is at its most difficult and challenging, Living in Seamill and have been happily married to Kathleen (also doing the trek) for the past 18 years. We have two fantastic kids Nathan (10) and Elise (8) who keep us busy."

"Left the Pearl Assurance rat race after 14 years and set up an independent financial consultancy in West Kilbride JMC Financial Services in 2003, love life, fast cars especially Aston Martins 6ltr V12, red wine and cultivate my autistic tendencies (or so Kathleen says) being passionate about anything I do. Think the hospice is a fantastic charity and I am delighted to raise money for them at any opportunity."

Kathleen McCallum

"I have lived in Seamill with my husband John (also doing this trek) for the past 18 years & Mum to Nathan (10) & Elise (8). After 15 crazy years in the world of residential child care I took a career break in 2007 to spend more time with my own kids. Needless to say it didn't last long so in between the trips to piano, swimming & drama classes, I manage to find time to run KMC Property Services. I don't have much time for lots of interests beyond business & the kids but I now do a detour via the Seamill Hydro Gym, whilst heading for the chocolate & red wine at the local Co-Op! My new friends treadmill, cross trainer & 3kg have been a great help! Not to mention the great people I meet at the wine, sorry water cooler! You know who you are!"

"Agreed to this mad expedition whilst under the influence of a good pinot noir, it somehow sounded like a good way to celebrate reaching 4 decades old and raising money for this wonderful charity. So I signed up then watched the Comic Relief climb & didn't sleep for a week! However that was a year ago & now here we are & I'm up for it along with the rest of this crazy bunch!"

"I want to thank all of my family & friends for their support & encouragement. A BIG, BIG thanks also has to go to our sponsor The Cafe Palazzo (not just for their special fish) & everyone who has donated or been involved in our fundraising efforts. Will do my very best to see that sunrise over Africa for you all on 26th."

David Ramsay

David Ramsay (41) Director Inspectram Limited

Lives in West Kilbride,
Married to Kathryn, has two children Sarah (9) and Jack (5)

"After spending a considerable amount of time in Africa over the last 12 years the thought of climbing the highest peak seemed very appealing, coupled with raising some money for a very worthy cause. This was enough to make the decision to attempt this challenge (at the time!!)."

Alistair Neill

Alistair Neill is again teaming up with Chris McMail a year after trekking along the Great Wall of China. Although moving to the bright lights of London 6 years ago, Alistair still has family in Ayr and has very personal reasons for participating in this latest challenge after losing his mother to Motor Neurone Disease in August 2008.

"Speaking from personal experience, The Ayrshire Hospice is an exceptional service to patients and familes requiring their care, and the staff and volunteers deserve all the help and credit they get. I'm glad Chris persuaded me to join him. The challenge will be physically demanding but I'm looking forward to the experience, and there is already a wonderful camarederie amongst the group."

Steve Hyde

(turns 50 on the trek)
"I have been all over the world in my time including a year off to travel down under and to Aisa but finally ended up moving to the west coast of Scotland after all that in 1993 following a job move. I am a Project Engineer at BAE SYSTEMS Prestwick."

"I have lived in West Kilbride/Seamill since 2000. Live with partner Anne and I have 2 kids, Angus 11 and Lauren 6 plus 2 dogs. Having followed the other guys doing the China Trek last year I was finally persuaded to do the Kilimanjaro challenge as part of my 50th birthday year (thanks to John McCallum!) in aid of the Ayrshire Hospice, a great cause. This is one of those challenges of a lifetime and I am determined to make not only a complete success of it but also to learn from the experience when I come back a year older than when I left."

Keith Grant

“I’ve presented myself at the door of the Ayrshire Hospice, each day, for the past eight years and they kindly keep letting me in!

I really feel as if I’m part of the team. I get to wear a stethoscope and entertain the patients. At night I go back to the safe house. Christine does a great job of looking after me, and makes sure I’m presentable for the next day. We had three children living with us. But Jennifer (JP) has left home and is learning about socialising at an educational institution in Stirling. Our two remaining charges are Gillian and David. While Gillian (Gilly Bean) goes off skiing in Austria over Easter, poor David (Handsome)will remain at home pretending to study for exams.

All my family, friends and fellow entertainers at the hospice have been very supportive and eager that I took part in this treacherous, perilous and potentially fatal trip. The advert for a replacement at the hospice was I feel overly cautious and a shade premature.

My fellow trekkers have proven a good humoured bunch and we are looking forward to a great adventure together. The piles of cash that has been raised by kind donations for the hospice will serve to push us all up the wee hill.

If I can be permitted to add that the hospice is a wonderful organisation that provides the highest standards of care to patients with life limiting illness and their families throughout Ayrshire. The hospice needs our continuing support.”

Roger Woods

Roger is happily married with four children, 2 boys 2 girls living in West Kilbride, Ayrshire.

Roger started his own business Invincible Security Ltd back in 1994 soon after completing his apprenticeship in Instrumentation at ICI, Ardeer. Since then he has grown the business steadily achieving ISO 9001: 2008 and NSI Gold accreditation.

"This is my first attempt at fundraising and only agreed to the challenge at Xmas so i only had 10 weeks to hit the £3800 target. I thought it was mission impossible but was amazed at the support my friends and family gave at my party auction night whish was a great success. In one night I not only hit my target but exceeded it."

"Thanks again for all who supported me!"

Ian Sey

"I have worked for Chris McMail at Microtech Support Limited for the last six years and have been happily married to Jennifer for the last eighteen months; Jennifer has two great children from a previous marriage Cameron (15) and Lauren (11). Other than work, my time is spent with my family & for the last 8 months at the gym as much as possible. I have always donated money to the hospice whenever I could and this seemed like a great opportunity to raise money for a truly worthy local charity."

Graeme Strawhorn

Graeme Strawhorn is 28 years old and is part of the Fundraising Team at The Ayrshire Hospice where he has worked for 2 years. Graeme lives in Mauchline, Ayrshire. He has received great support from his parents, family, colleagues and friends in his venture to trek up Mount Kilimanjaro. Graeme is also a leader with Mauchline Scout Group hence his interest in this challenge. He enjoys swimming, football, skiing and golf and other sports.

Graeme is very happy to support the Ayrshire Hospice and knows the brilliant work associated through his employment. He would like to thank each and every one who supported him throughout the last year at his fundraising events which included a Race Night, Wine Tasting, Poker Night and Pub quizzes.

Graeme is also on the look out for a gorgeous chick to help carry his rucksack…..

Ronnie Steele

"I retired 2 years ago and having kept myself involved for many years in various fundraising events, including running New York, Boston and Paris Marathons for charities, I felt I should continue before I get too old (being the oldest trekker on this challenge)."

"Injuries prevented me continuing with the marathons (300 were enough) and now I enjoy walking and cycling and a bit of badminton. My family, 2 daughters are grown up and married and Ihave one lovely grand-daughter, Katie, 3yrs old."

"I work as a volunteer in the Day Hospice on Mondays and help to keep them awake, I hope with my friendly banter and quizzes etc. All the staff do a fantastic job and I am proud to be part of it and raising the money on this challenge has not been easy but its very worthwhile and I have beeen humbled at the generosity and support of some individuals in particular - my sincerest thanks to all of you (I won't embarrass them at this point)."

"Wishing us all a safe and successful trek!!"