In his own words Andreas Loizou their trek to Mount Kilimanjaro
I had been on my bucket list 3 years ago but Covid got it the way.
I love a challenge,the more difficult the better.
The trip was for me & my son.
Kilimanjaro is the tallest freestanding mountain in the world at 6000 metres high. There are a number of different routes to the top. Some of the routes have a failure rate of 60% ! We took the Machame Route,which was 5 days up,2 days down !
Kilimanjaro is in Tanzania,Africa.
We went with Stuart Shipp of City Mountaineering & flights were booked through Angela at Cyplon Travel.
We were Mountaineering novices & watched 100’s of You Tube videos.
However before fully committing financially,myself & my son,Marios Loizou,19 years old studying Biomedical Sciences at Imperial College,went to The Altitude Centre in Trump St,in the City to be tested & assessed. Going to those heights is dangerous & I wanted to check it was safe for us to commit to this crazy challenge. The Altitude Centre was created for the London Olympics & is where Mo Farah,Anthony Joshua etc train at Altitude to gain whatever fitness advantage they can.
After 2 hours of breathing through various machines & treadmills,we got the all clear !
We subsequently paid out deposits ! This was all done in the summer of 2021.
We then started to buy our extensive list of KIT.
Training initially,was just lots of treadmill walking & breaking in those boots.
My father had been poorly the last 10 years & had battled with cancer over that period,
Unfortunately my father Costas from Ayios Amvrosios suffered a large stroke on 02 June of this year & we lost him on the 19th July.
During & after that period my focus was on my father & later my mother/ brother & funeral arrangements,
The funeral was in the diary for 23rd Aug and I was still determined to fly to Tanzania 🇹🇿 on the 25th,as scheduled.
My father was a strong man & I planned on following in his footsteps. I wasn’t going to let him down.
We flew out on the 25th !
5 days up.
We walked for between 7 to 10 hours a day, we started in a rain forest & summited at -20′ !
Altitude & the lack of oxygen are the big & dangerous challenges.
City Mountaineering & their local agents AA Adventures were fantastic! They guided us,carried the heavy kit,made the tents & fed us. We walked & climbed wth a backpack of water,spare clothes & snacks.
I crashed after day one with exhaustion but dug deep to not let my son down.
There’s were 13 of us in this particular group.
I took each day as it came & ignored the pending scary final summit day !
The trick is,walk slowly,lots & lots of water and EAT ! Food ultimately gets you to the top.
At 52 years of age,no training for 4 mths,I got to said summit night.
You summit at night,we leave our tents at midnight,wearing everything you own,we follow an experienced guide,we zig zag,in darkness with head torches up a mountain of slate sand,one step forward,slide 1/2 a step back. 100’s of people leave at the same time,in silence,it’s almost like a holy pilgrimage.
The locals call Kilimanjaro,’ the queen’ & she decides who summitting her that night. Often repeat climbers previously successful,fail on subsequent visits !
We were advised if some of the other groups want to push pass us,let them pass,you’ll catch them up later. They were right,many who ploughed past us at a pace,we met later as they were forced to come back down the mountain,accompanied my medics,doctors,breathing apparatus etc !
7 1/2 hours later I got to the top !
My sons summited some 15 mins before me.
The sunrise & getting to the top feels you with adrenaline,
Stella point is the first gate,then it’s another one hour walk around the crater to the final peak.
We of course got emotional,everyone does & even found the energy to raise the Cyprus flag ! We did it for dad !
Going down continued to be exhausting ! 6 hours to get off the peak,2 hours to leave camp,another 5 hours to a new camp,all this with no sleep.
Then some sleep,then another 9 hours to leave the mountain.
We did it 🙂
It took around 2 weeks to recover our sleep & energy !
Would I do it again ? It’s UNLIKELY 🙂
They also raised £3,416 for Guy’s Cancer Charity through a Just Giving page which you can still donate to below.
Andreas Loizou is an accountant living in Forest Hill, South London.
He is the Chair of the Trustees at the Ģreek Orthodox Church of St Nectarios at Battersea