Well done to my friend Chris Bramhall and his family for making it to the top of Mount Kilimanjaro. Chris's sister Sue Bramhall, and his dad Paul Bramhall joined each other on a once in a lifetime family expedition.
Chris's wife (and one of my bestest friends) Cindy, was planned to join them on the trip, but Cindy had to stay at home after finding out she is pregnant with their third son. All round congratulations to the proud family for these celebrations of a lifetime.
For many people, the approach of their 70th birthday signals a time to slow down and take things easy. Not so for Paul Bramhall, widely-travelled Chairman of the Kleinmond Bird Club. No thoughts of “downhill from here” for Paul, in fact just the opposite. And not just uphill – up Kilimanjaro!
Paul returned this week after sharing an epic adventure with daughter Sue, (44) and son Chris (39) after months of careful planning and preparation while his wife, Pauline, waited for news of their success. Living in Kleinmond, with its many hiking trails criss-crossing the Kogelberg Biosphhere Reserve, provided Paul with the perfect training ground. He walked daily from his home near the mountain along the circular Jean’s Hill route, which he estimates he must have completed about 40 times during training, averaging 40 minutes each time. Having walked this route myself, admittedly at a very leisurely pace, the mere thought of doing it in 40 minutes leaves me a little breathless.
Paul, Sue and Chris’ excursion, organised through Wild Frontiers, left Jo’burg on 01 October. Their small party of 3 was accompanied by 2 guides, 1 cook and 10 porters, quite an entourage. This support group enabled them to focus on the task at hand with meals and stops that sustained stamina and prepared them for the climb. Their experienced guides, Freddy and Clemence, led them at a slow but steady pace and carried out daily checks on blood oxygen levels and heart rates while on the mountain. Fortunately, none of them experienced any difficulties.
After leaving the Keys Hotel in Moshi on day 2, they passed through the Rongai Forest Gate into a forested area, reaching Simba Camp in the late afternoon. There they enjoyed what was to become a popular afternoon snack – tea and popcorn. On day 3 the vegetation along the route began to change from forest to scrub as they passed Cave 1, arriving at Cave 2 (2200m above sea level) just after midday. It was considerably colder, too, as Freddy took them on an acclimatisation walk in the afternoon. The cloud cleared en route revealing the majestic peak of Kilimanjaro above. What a magnificent sight. Frost lay on the ground as they set off on day 4 and after lunch and a snooze at Khekula Camp, they were taken up 200m of the path they would begin on day 5. Paul was happy to see many White-necked Ravens and a Langermeier along the way before returning for – you guessed it – tea and popcorn!
Aside from the actual achievement of his goal, Paul’s enduring memory of this journey will be sharing those 10 days and many laughs along the way with his two children. And is he planning another adventure any time soon? He’s thinking about it.
Story source: The Kleinmond Talk