The climbing party included Gail and Willie Fulton, Roderick Walker, two of the local staff and six interpid students from each of Tanzania and Kenya who had been supported through secondary education and now wanted help raise funds for their brothers and sisters. Over what must in part, have been a gruelling two week expedition to the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro, the group endured below freezing temperatures, some fitful nights sleep and the dizzying effects of altitude to acheive an amazing £44,000 in sponsorship and donations to further The Mango Tree's work. 

Our groups adventure has been captured through taped interviews with the students and footage was shot of the group on their expedition, plans for the footage to be turned into a short film are underway and we hope to be able to share the results with you at some point in the future. 

Climber and the Mango Tree's long-standing supporter, Roderick Walker has blogged about his experiences. Read about his trip to the top below:

The Mango Tree Kilimanjaro Celebration August, 2012. 

I was delighted to be asked to join Willie and Gail, the trustees of the Mango Tree, on their Mount Kilimanjaro adventure. I also found that it was close to 50 years since he had been able to acquire Bathgate Silica and build that company from its small beginnings. A reason for a double celebration as this allowed me to support such wonderful charities.

Our celebration was the form of a climb to the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro with trustees, two of the local staff and six students from Tanzania and Kenya who had been supported through their secondary education by The Mango Tree. 

Arrangements were made with a local tour company who would not only guide and provide tents, food and support but would also arrange the much needed cold weather clothing and boots for the students.
We decided that our route was to be the Lemosho, which allowed for a slower approach thereby giving us all the opportunity to gently acclimatize to the height. Six days would be taken for the climb - we started our trek at 7800ft and would end it at 15300ft. 

Our first sighting of the extraordinary mountain was glimpsed as we left the jungle behind us, Kilimanjaro could be seen towering above as we crossed the Shira Ridge in the sunshine

The weather was kind during the day save for occasional cloud. The thirty porters had matters well in hand - our guides managed to provide us with three hot meals, which was amazing given the need to carry all provisions and the tents across the mountain. 

The nights were well below freezing and the cold weather clothing was very much appreciated in the sleeping bags as sleeping at height was often fitful.

Washing was a challenge as all water had to be collected and carried by porters from snow melt streams and used frugally, the priority being water for drinking, three litres minimum. The final camp at Barafu 15300ft had no convenient stream

The final ascent started in the cold and dark at 6am, we climbed steeply and soon were too hot. At daybreak, we were moving slowly upwards breathing deeply, “pole pole” as the local’s call it, which translates as “slowly slowly”.

At mid-day we reached the Stella Point through heavy scree on the edge of the old volcano at 18600ft and felt pretty wacked. A short break and we moved onwards over more gentle ground to the summit. It was 1pm when we finally reached our end point at Uhuru Peak, 19345ft. 

We had the summit to ourselves and took a little while to recover and then cameras were out with the Mango Tree Banner to the fore. The feeling was more of relief than elation! A marker had been made.

After half an hour we were on the way down back to Barafu moving with some apprehension over loose scree. It was a little easier on the knees if we could stay upright. Needless to say the younger members of the party were down in half the time it took we seniors to descend. 

Close to the end now and keen to finish, we decided to descend in the day rather spend another night in camp. This meant a drop of 10,000ft. We were away at first light and on firm ground we moved steadily. The challenge came after lunch when we entered the dampness of the jungle. The path was in poor repair and consisted of hard clay with a damp top. We just managed with the help of our walking poles.

At 5pm we thankfully reached the Mweka Park Gate. Our thirty porters were already there and welcomed us with a lively singsong. We took many photos with our three guides who had brought us safely down. The involvement with the young students had been a particular pleasure for them as well as for us.

We signed out of the Park and collected our well-earned certificates. All were sound and happy. And so back to our hotel on the coach for a good wash and sleep.

Mission accomplished!

Roderick Walker