On 9 July 2019, 14 permanent staff members from the British Army Training Unit Kenya (BATUK) accompanied by Glenn Richards, a guide from Savage Wilderness Adventures, embarked on Exercise PANGA SUMMIT, an Adventurous Training Expedition to climb Mount Kilimanjaro.
The trip was planned and organised by WO2(QMSI) Roger Harnden (RAPTC) who was joined by Maj Mick Warwick (RAPTC), Maj JK Kelmanson (SCOTS), Maj Claire Blakiston (RA), Maj Mick Cataldo (YORKS), Maj Rob Grant (RE), Capt Ollie Gourd (SCOTS), SSgt Tom Boyd (RAMC), SSgt Jonny Bedford (RAPTC), SSgt Ryan Cohen (RLC), SSgt Dal Ringjali (RE), Sgt Dave Rudling (RE), Sgt Dee Dewa (AGC), Cpl Yagya Gurung (AGC) and LCpl Tony Cavanagh (RE).
Following an overnight stop in a lodge near Moshi, Tanzania, the team were met by Julio and his army of guides, porters and chefs from Ahsante Tours and taken to the Machame Gate for the beginning of their 8 day trek.
Following the Machame route, considered one of the more challenging ways to climb the mountain, the team passed through 5 ecological zones from rainforest to arctic.
To acclimatise them to the high altitudes, the team used the “climb high, sleep low” method, stopping at 4 camps before reaching their eventual base camp (4680m) on the morning of day 6.
After some food and rest they set off for the summit attempt at midnight, following a steep climb up to Stella point (5685m). Unfortunately, at this point one of the team succumbed to altitude sickness and had to be evacuated to hospital by air, accompanied by the expedition medic, reinforcing the dangers of high altitude mountaineering.
Following a welcome cup of tea, miraculously produced by some of the porters, the remainder of the team set off up and around the rim of the volcanic ash pit summiting Uhuru Peak (5895m) at around 0700hrs.
When the altitude and temperature started to take their toll, the team began their quick descent back down to base camp and after some food descended along the Mweka route to Millennium Camp (3820m) where they stayed overnight.
The following day they completed the last 13km down to Mweka gate and boarded buses back to the lodge.
According to BATUK, “the stunning scenery, physical effort and friendships forged, made this once in a lifetime trip one that the team will never forget.”