Blood, Sweat & Compassion: Kilimanjaro – The Ascent

Christina Kaiser shared her story of climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro to benefit our Leadership Development Program students. Now her Compassion UK counterpart, Joe Henegan shares his account of climbing the highest mountain in Africa.

Ascent day was epic, to say the least. It was like Ben Hur, The Odyssey and Lord of the Rings all rolled into one. I will never forget that day.

It is difficult to describe how amazing the summit day was. Words alone cannot do it justice, it must be experienced to fully appreciate how remarkable it was. There were moments of exhilaration and moments of exhaustion. Times of despondency and times of adrenaline fueled highs.

Hours and hours of staring up the dark and imposing hill face were followed by captivating minutes of losing myself in the unforgettable views. It really did take my breath away, in more ways than one.

We woke fairly early on Day 5 to get going for a long day ahead of us. An eight hour hike across a barren ridge brought us to the base camp at 4,700 metres high.

We arrived at about 4pm, had some dinner and went to sleep. We woke again at 11.30pm, had a breakfast of sorts and assembled in a line ready to begin the hardest six hours of my life!

I was already feeling quite rough with altitude sickness. I remember wondering to myself,

‘How was this going to go?’

It was obviously totally pitch black. If you looked up the mountain you could identify groups of other people who had already started their ascent by the snaking lines of headtorches.

It was a surreal sight. Most of the time you had no idea how far you had come and how much was left to climb.

At 3am we reached our halfway point. I felt ready to give up. The altitude was making me weaker and weaker. I had fallen back from the main group and was now being cheered on by one of the amazing guides (I have no idea which guide it was).

I carried on zig-zagging my way up, just focusing on nothing more than the next step, putting one foot in front of the other.

It was about -15°C and the tube to my water container had frozen up. I was desperate for the sun to rise and warm my back and so that I could see how much further I had to climb.

At about 5am the sky started to turn purple and I could just about make out the outline of Gilman’s Point, the first peak at just under 5,700 metres…

highest mountain in africa

I have never before been so impressed by God’s creation. Jesus Christ is Lord of Kilimanjaro, He is the Lord of the universe and He also humbled himself, even to death on a cross to save me.

Over six hours of internal monologue with myself, this amazing truth kept me going higher and higher when I really wanted to turn back around.

Read the entire post on the Compassion UK blog.

Read the entire Blood, Sweat and Compassion series.

3 Comments |Add a comment

  1. Mike Mavolio March 16, 2012

    Great blog! I can totally identify having climbed in 2011 and will again this summer. I too am a Compassion Advocate and child sponsor. We climb for clean water in Malawi, Africa.

    1. Lizzie March 16, 2012

      WOW! That is really cool.

  2. Kim at Kingdom Civics March 16, 2012

    Wow, it’s cool that Compassion offers these kinds of opportunities for young people. It’s funny, b/c I was just coming over to let Compassion know that I posted an article on my blog about how their program has helped me teach my own children about the greater world around them. I highlighted the organization’s excellent communication skills, the ease of correspondence, and their wonderful kids’ magazine, Compassion Explorer. All of these things have been such a big help as my husband and I attempt to teach our kids to care for others around the world.

    Here’s the link, or you can just click on my name:

Add a Comment