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12 November 2013

I made it!

Hi, such a lot has happened since I last blogged, but most of it was on a mountain!
It's ten months since Alice went and I miss her so much. I am desperate to tell her about my African trip and I can't, so I just hope that somehow she is watching me. This post is all about my Kili climb.

THURSDAY 17th October, I flew out to Africa to attempt to climb Kilimanjaro.
We flew from Heathrow to Doha and onto Dar es Salaam and finally into Kilimanjaro airport. We were shattered as the planes were a bit cramped, but excited too.
We had the FRIDAY afternoon to get our gear sorted and on the Saturday morning we were off.

Today we spent most of the morning driving to and hanging around waiting to get our permits to climb Kili. We had a really horrible lunch of squashed banana and something unidentifiable and then set off trekking. Today we trekked up to 2,780 metres and it was really steep in parts but it felt quite good to be going. We reached camp about an hour before the sun set and got our tents sorted and then went for dinner. We were all really tired after dinner and after a team briefing, which we had to have outside in the cold, we went straight to bed. I slept as snug as a bug in my new Mountain Equipment sleeping bag :)

Today we were trekking up to Shira Camp at 3,505 metres. It didn't sound that far but every time we gained a few hundred metres, there was always a big drop that we had to climb up again. Today was really hard work on my legs and we were stopping and starting right along the trail. We didn't get into camp until the sun was just about to set which made it really difficult to get the tent sorted. It was also really cold and everyone got their down jackets out!

Day 3 - Me and my Mum
It was freezing when we got up this morning but once the sun came up, it got warm quickly. We were trekking up to 4,000 metres today and other than the summit day and night, this was the longest day trekking. It was just up and up and up from the minute we set off and we didn't reach Lava Tower until about four in the afternoon. This was because my mum had to turn back down the mountain with Alice's friend, Sammi, who was sick and we all were sat around for quite a bit while they thought about what to do. In the end, another boy was going down with his dad so we felt a bit better that they weren't going to be alone. After they went, the rest of us were really sad and it wasn't a good day really. From the Lava Tower, it took us over two hours to get down to camp at Barranco which meant we arrived just as it was dark. So we had to sort our camping gear in the dark again and we were all miserable at tea and quite a few were feeling ill. Because my tent mate and my mum had gone down, I shared a tent with my Dad, which was good because he looked after me and got me a hot water bottle for in my sleeping bag :)
We went to bed just after eight and we all thought that my mum and Sammi would be in a hotel somewhere when in fact they were STILL on their way because the trekking company was useless.

Climbing up the Barranco wall was awesome. This was the most enjoyable part of the climb and when we reached the top I felt pretty good and positive about the whole thing. We arrived at the next camp mid afternoon and there was another walk to help you with the altitude but I felt too sick to do it and so I went to my tent and had a rest. I dry shampooed my hair which is as good as it gets on Kili and then listened to my dad snoring LOL. Everyone was going downhill at dinner and we were all on various tablets to help with the altitude.

Was really nervous when I woke up today because as well as the walk to the base camp, we were starting our summit attempt this evening. From the camp it was pretty much up hill all the way but the views were amazing. The actual mountain was a bit ugly at this point and there wasn't much to see. We were climbing up to 4,600 metres this morning and it wasn't as far as some of the other days but we were all feeling quite ill. I was really sick today and it made me nervous. We arrived at the base camp just before lunch and there was another walk that was about 2 hours and really steep just to help with the altitude again. They did lunch when we got back from the extra walk and then we went to rest but I don't think anyone got much sleep because everyone was nervous. Dad and me didn't go to dinner because the food was disgusting anyway and we had lots of Mars Bars and shortbread with us although I hadn't eaten all day anyway.

We were woken 10 minutes before we were meant to leave at 11 o'clock which put us in a panic. It was so cold that even with all my layers on, I was still freezing. I had my down jacket on and my dad gave me his down jacket as well. I felt really sorry for him but he said he was fine. We were climbing 1,300 metres tonight up to 5,895 metres and it was the hardest thing I have ever done. I felt so nervous because it was so steep that after just an hour of it, I was a bit worried if I could do it. All of our group were sick in some way by now and even though I'd not eaten anything, my body still wanted me to be sick. The injections definitely helped but they didn't take it away and I had to really make my mind think about why I was doing this. I thought about Alice a lot while I was climbing and I thought about how proud my Mum would be of me too.

After we'd been climbing for about six hours, we were going between normal conversation and mumbling silly things that didn't make sense. We stayed together all the way, sticking together as a little purple team. The air was getting thinner and it was getting harder and harder to lift my legs up and put my feet one in front of the other. If you've even been on one of those cross trainer things and tried to do so much that your legs are wobbly and you just can't control them, it was a bit like that. It was so cold that I just can't explain it. I had every inch of skin covered, thick layers and two down jackets, but I was still cold. With the windchill, it was minus 20. I've never experienced that before and definitely never walked through the night, up a mountain in it! We had amazing guides in our group. Hudson stayed with me and dad all the way up and he kept telling me that I could do it and giving me little pieces to achieve.  The sun started to come up and we were still climbing on a really steep bit and I have to be honest, my eyes were losing focus and I was desperate to go to sleep at that point. But then someone said it was really close and a doctor from another group had a look at me and asked if I felt I could continue and I said yes and he said well get yourself up there young lady, you've almost done it. And I don't know why but that gave me energy and helped me push that final bit. We laughed afterwards, because another of our group lost vision in one eye and it was only when it came back that she said, I just thought it was foggy on the mountain!
The glaciers seemed to be sliding down the mountain
When we saw the Stella point point sign come into view, I felt like I was running (I wasn't) and full of energy. My Dad said that Stella point was like one of the top points and I said that no, there's only one top and I was going there! So we carried on again, but I was moving so slowly at this point that if there was a particular bit of rock or something that stood out, it stayed next to me for about 5 minutes while I passed it LOL. After what felt like hours, but was probably only another one and a bit hours, there in front of us, was the TOP OF AFRICA, the Uhuru peak. I honestly couldn't believe that we'd made it, I felt amazing. There was quite a few other trekkers at the top, probably because we'd taken so long to get there, but we had photos and got the Alice's Escapes banner out for a photo with the rest of the team. Now that I'm home, I look at my photo and think why didn't I take the head torch off and do something with my hair. I look like a miner!

Steven, my Dad, me, Haley, Alex and Kathy reach the summit
Dad and I went and had a minute on our own and then left some of Alice on the mountain top like she wanted us to. That was quite hard to do, especially without mum been with us, but it was nice to be with the others and we all had a minute together, hugging and thinking about Alice.

I sent my mum a text message to tell her we'd made it and I didn't get her response straight away, but now I've looked at Alice's facebook pages I can see that she was just a bit pleased.
After 9 hours of climbing, you only get to spend a really short time at the summit because they make you start going back down again. It was really hard going back down and so steep that Hudson had hold of me to stop me falling. My legs were so tired but I just didn't care, I felt so happy that I'd done it. The summit night was the first night that I realised that all those months of training - climbing mountains, gym and running had made so much of a difference.
Breakfast was back at the base camp but no one really ate anything because we all felt so ill and then we had to walk for another few hours to get down to 4,000 metres and Millennium camp just after lunch time. We'd been climbing for 17 hours at that point! The porters were so happy that night, i think because they get there tips :) some of them were amazing dancers!

We had to say goodbye to all the porters which was sad because you know they just have to do it again and again to stay alive. They don't have a choice really but they are such happy people. Everyone was really tired today and that was made worse by a long, long trek back down through a few different areas. It was just open to start with and then through lots of steep forest paths and finally down a track. My legs were killing me and I thought it was really tough walking down, especially after what we'd done. I expected my mum and Sammi at the gate but the trekking company hadn't collected them and so they didn't get there! Everyone just wanted to get back and wash and change, but we had to go for lunch and then back to the hotel. My mum was waiting for me and I had the nicest shower of my life! At night time, there was a celebratory dinner thing but one of Alice's old teachers who is a friend of ours was coming for dinner at the hotel and so Mum ate dinner with her and I joined them a bit later.

Mum and Sammi had an okay week too, even though they were disappointed. After we left them, they waited for SIX HOURS on the mountain for a truck to meet them and then it sounded like it was a bit frightening as the driver was fighting with someone and didn't want to drive them down. So the journey wasn't good and mum said they were glad that they got down alive! But, there was no hotel sorted for that night even thought they'd had all day and so she tweeted and put a message out on Facebook and one of Alice's fans was a friend of a friend who owns the Honey Badger Lodge in Moshi. Anyway, Mum sorted rooms there and they stayed there for the week and said it was a fantastic place. They managed to visit the school next door and they also went on a safari so at least they got to do something. So Alice kind of saved the day for them :)
Sammi and my mum with dolly on a purple safari LOL
The journey back was okay but very long and it was made worse when we got back to Heathrow and Purple Parking had actually managed to lose our car and Kathy's car. We still can't figure out how you lose two cars, but they weren't very helpful and our meet and greet service ended up being well over an hour. So we think they should change their name to Invisible parking or something because they make cars vanish and everything else that is purple is brilliant.

You would think that I would arrive home and watch all the stuff I'd recorded while we were away. But I didn't. All I have watched is documentaries of Everest and K2 and climbing things. I never thought I would say this, but I really enjoyed the challenge and am looking for my next challenge. It was strange to do something that needed me to be mentally strong as well as fit and I believe in myself a bit more now. It was good to visit Africa because it made me realise how much I have and how little they have and yet they are some of the happiest people I've ever met. I miss Africa so much already. One of our charity supporters sent me the best mountain book ever and I'm spending every spare minute with it. Maybe one day I'll visit some of the places in it!

This is all a bit long now and I still have to tell you about the K2B awards, Love Barrow awards, Park Cliffe, Alan Hinkes and my new volunteering at Oxfam, so I'll do another blog post in a week or so. I need to go to bed now as it's a school night.

THANK YOU goes to everyone who sponsored me - I raised almost £11,000 and am very pleased with that, and to my mum and dad for encouraging me to do something amazing.

Love Milly x


  1. A superb achievement Milly - well done xx

  2. Milly, you are amasing, and Alice would be so proud of you. Big hugs from Denmark

  3. Super congratulations! I'm sure Alice would be so proud of you, not just for climbing Kilimanjaro but also for keeping this blog running and continuing to inspire us all. Well done x

  4. Well done Milly. You should be very proud of yourself. I know your parents are and I feel certain Alice would be too.

    Love and hugs,
    Aly in SC, USA

  5. Well done, Milly! Congratulations on getting to the top.

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  7. Congratulations Milly! I am certain Alice knows you made it to the top. You really are a very talented writer and an inspiration on so many levels. I look forward to your next post.

    God Bless - Lynne in Buffalo, NY USA

  8. That is such a grand acheivement and I am sure Alice is looking down and applauding you!
    hugs Karen

  9. You are amazing, Milly! After achieving this feat you know there is nothing you can't do. Bravo :)

  10. Wow, wow, wow. You're so amazing Milly and so brave. I am so sorry that your mum wasn't able to continue, she must have been very sad. Alice would be so proud of all of you.
    Good luck with your next challenge xx

  11. Congratulations on reaching the top Milly! Wow, that's such a huge achievement, and I'm certain Alice would be proud. Well done. x

  12. You are amazing...congratulations!!!

  13. You are amazing...congratulations!!!

  14. Milly!!! I cried when your mom posted the news on Facebook that you'd made it. I can't imagine how difficult (physically AND emotionally) it was to push through and persevere! Alice took you to the top :) You brave, amazing girl. Keep going! Look always up and never behind you. Much love from Texas!

  15. Many Congratulations Sweet Milly ! Alice is so proud, and you have fulfilled her wishes ! I can't begin to imagine what you went through to achieve such a huge are going to have an amazing life with such determination and drive you will go very, very far ! Can't wait to watch from afar - You Go Girl !!! Love from Pat in Cleveland, Ohio, USA !

  16. Well done you on an amazing achievement. I'm sure that Alice is looking down on you with nothing but pride and love.

  17. Bravo Milly, tu donnes des le├žons de courage aux autres.

  18. What a great experience! I'm sure your little sister is proud of you for the goal you just did! :)

  19. Well done, Milly ! All the people in the world are with you!
    Ivy, Trento - Italy

  20. Ooohh. I really commend ur effort and believing in.youself Good one