This is part two of Kevin's three-part blog. To read part one, click here and part two, click here. 

Days five and six

Another sleepless night, but breathtaking scenery continues to enthral us.

Today, Alpine Desert zone, dusty, boulder-strewn landscape with little vegetation, trekking 5 hours to lunch camp, then 2 hours to overnight camp. For the first time, Kilimanjaro seems close and achievable (I haven’t come this far to give up now!).

We have climbed and descended over last 2 days, frustrating, but will help acclimatize us for the final summit tomorrow. Slow progress to lunch camp (one or two struggling with altitude), where most manage to eat, then 3 hours through worsening visibility to base camp, where it is extremely cold with ferocious winds.

After tea, 8.30pm, we’ll be up at midnight for a sapping 9-hour summit assault.

An anxious night, snow and wind greet us at midnight, the weather intent on challenging us to the very end, and we await clearance to proceed. Raha sends us on our way in darkness with snow and ice underfoot and 60mph winds, far from ideal! Struggling to keep upright progress is slow and soon individual water supplies freeze in temperatures, we’re told, as low as -20 degrees. Collectively, too slow in the extreme cold, the group splits – 2 at a slower pace, who would not submit, with remainder pushing on. By now everyone feels the altitude – headaches, dizziness, fatigue, diarrhoea and sickness, this becoming a real war of attrition for everyone. We hear one lady at the rear has collapsed and returned to camp with a guide, although her husband is still in the game with us.

Ahead, a sea of ascending lights of other groups, and after 6 hrs my legs go, and a kind trekker renames me ‘Bambi’, now sheer determination kicks in. Headaches and dizziness also an issue, although I stave off sickness by employing deep breathing regimes. Nothing left in the tank as we eventually summit shortly before midday, 9 out of 13 having achieved this goal, ice formations here amazing!

Elation short-lived due to brutal weather conditions, BUT I’ve conquered the roof of Africa, the highest free-standing mountain in the world, achieved in no small part to a determination to assist Harefield Hospital in their wonderful work.

What next!