Mountain Madness (Part One)          - 15/8/2007      <--Prev : Next-->


part one

What on earth possesses 4 pretty normal, pre-menopausal housewife Moms to pack their bags and climb Kilimanjaro? ??? Madness? The current stressful situation in the country? Hormones? A religious need? A mid life crisis?

Yes, on the 5th September, 4 Bulawayo Moms will fly out to Tanzania to make their mark on the Roof of Africa. Their Desperate House husbands just shake their heads, the 11 children that they have between them can hardly believe it and reckon their Moms are "way tight!" even if their average age is 42.

The Headmaster at their children's school dropped the bombshell news in the staff room to some amazed teachers and just recently the news has it that the Grade 7 Boys are placing bets as to which Mom is going to make it! Kilimanjaro - the highest free standing mountain in the world. The only mountain that supports 5 eco-zones and no wonder the early explorers argued heatedly at the very idea of a mountain that straddled the equator having snow on the top and the temperature at the summit being minus 24 degrees!!

It has been an interesting project so far. At the first meeting of the Mountain Moms, they read that "wet wipes" were just the best thing as there is no bathing en route....... ...for 6 days! That was a shocker! The next shocker was that AMS (altitude sickness) has some ghastly side effects namely vomiting and flatulence - sharing a two man tent with a best friend with acute gas will test the boundaries of any friendship! The priority on the Kili Agenda was "training" for the big event. The training has involved weekly hikes to the Matopas with the Moms taking turns in choosing the routes. Bambata was lovely with only one wrong turn made and the chocolate cake pulled out of a back pack at the end would probably not be acceptable by the likes of Kingsley Holgate or any camel man challenger - but it was good anyway.

Pomongwe was a great walk up but the gang took a wrong turn at the top and got lost coming down, the girls eventually stumbling out onto the Maleme road full of cuts and scratches and various bits of shrubbery stuck in their hair! By this time, the girls had done more research and read up that "Proper Hiking Shoes" were the order of the day and many precious forex rands were spend on Hi-Tech Boots that are thermo-insulated, double padded, waterproof, slip proof, snake bite proof, gortex lined with heavy duty laces resembling ropes that tie up boats! Not our favourite Manolo Blahniks and we doubt Imelda Marcos owned a pair - they were very impressive and G.I. Jaynish!.

Further advice was that the "boot" must be bought one size bigger than the normal shoe size as feet tend to swell and on top of Kili it is minus 24 degrees so more than one pair of socks will be required at this time! The third climb up Shumba Shaba, just behind the Moth Shrine - the Mountain Moms were kitted out in their new boots and the troop very much resembled a gang of Minnie Mouses on Safari with such big shoes.

The climb was gruelling and the legs were shaking partly due to the immense weight of the fancy boots! Inungu was next - the big one with a cross on top. A gorgeous climb and the view breathtaking - but again a wrong turn and we emerged once again from the shrubbery at the bottom but this time 5 kilometres away from our vehicle. Its a good thing that there are guides on Kili!

More to follow in the next chapters - kit, drugs, frostbite, ablution etiquette and Trans Matopas - the very real test of our will, fitness and comradeship - who dare calls us Mountain Barbies!