Kilimanjaro Memorial Trek 2008

Team Graeme Reach Summit of Mount Kilimanjaro

10 members of Team Graeme took part in a trek to Mount Kilimanjaro in memory of Graeme. The team arrived at Kilimanjaro airport on the evening of Saturday 4th October 2008 after having travelled from the UK, Norway and Australia. We are delighted to report that 9 of the Team managed to reach the summit on Friday 10th October between 7.30 am and 8.00 am local time.

The Team members are shown below and included 7 travelling from various parts of the UK, 2 from Australia and 1 from Norway. We were accompanied by a small orange companion given to Gilly for the trip:-

Sara Knox (UK)

Rebecca Swaine (UK)

Joanne Moody (UK)

Gillian Batty (UK)

Matthew (The Hero) Morgan (UK)

Rachel Turner (UK)

Keith Turner (UK)

Ndoli Bear (UK)

Jake Hannah (Australia)

John Kennedy (Australia)

Simon Buckley (Norway)

A truly international team to converge on Kilimanjaro

Summary of The Trek

Day 1. Arrive Kilimanjaro airport, Tanzania. Transfer by road to Hotel Nakara near to Marangu Gate. 2 hrs.
Day 2. Drive to north side of Kilimanjaro 1.5 hrs. Have lunch then begin trek from Rongai Gate (1950m) to Camp at the edge of the moorland zone. (2600m). 4 hrs.
Day 3. Trek to Kikelewa Caves. Camp. (3550m). 7 hrs.
Day 4. Trek to Mawenzi Tarn. Camp. (4300m). 4 hrs
Day 5. Rest and acclimatisation day at Mawenzi Tarn. Camp.
Day 6. Trek to Kibo Hut. Camp (4700m). 5 hrs.
Day 7. Midnight Thursday Begin trek to summit (5894m) 7 hrs. Descend to Kibo Hit 2 hrs. Rest for few hours then trek via Marangu Route to Horombo Camp. (3720m). 4 hrs
Day 8. Trek to Marangu gate. Transfer to Hotel Nakara to receive certificates. Transfer by road to Kilimanjaro airport for evening flight to Amsterdam.
Day 9. Arrive back in UK

Map Showing Our Route

Here is a Google map showing our route from Rongai Gate at the green table icon at the top of the map. Then follow the red markers to the summit and the yellow markers to Horombo Huts and finally Marangu Gate.
You can move around the map and enlarge sections of it and by clicking on the markers you can read some information about the location.

View Larger Map

The Story of The Trek

The ten members of our group arrived at Kilimanjaro Airport from all four corners of the globe (well, London, Birmingham, Teesside, Norway and Australia) on the evening of Saturday 4 October. We were met by our group leader, Emmanuel, bundled into vehicles with our luggage and driven to our hotel at the foot of Marangu Gate. It was pitch black so there was no sign of the mountain and the drive was rather bumpy at times! By the time we got to our hotel after a two hour drive and had something to eat it was around midnight when we got to bed.

After breakfast on Sunday we set off in landrovers for a 90 minute drive around the north side of the mountain to the Rongai Gate. There was still no sign of the mountain because of the blanket of cloud covering the sky. We ate a buffet lunch at the Gate, had our first team photo taken and properly began our adventure with three guides (and nearly 40 porters in tow carrying our luggage). The four-hour trek that day was a gentle ascent from 1,950 metres to 2,600 metres, through some forest where we encountered blue and colobus monkeys. The guides told us on that first day that the key to a successful summit attempt was "pole pole" - this is the Swahili for slowly slowly - and so although the walking itself was not difficult, even on that first day we walked at a very gentle pace as we were gaining altitude all of the time and we had to give our bodies time to adjust to the lower air pressure. It was clear even from the beginning that our bodies were working harder than usual to get the oxygen we needed into our lungs.

We arrived at our first campsite to see our tents already set up (by coincidence our tents were our Team Graeme colour of orange). After unpacking our sleeping bags and mats and changing from our boots into trainers or sandals we enjoyed our first meal in our mess tent. We got our first taste of the wonderful hearty food that would sustain us for the week, prepared by our chef Mr Po (complete with pristine white chef's hat!).

The morning of Day 2 was wonderfully clear and gave us our first view of our objective, the summit of Kili bathed in the morning sun.

Mount Kilimanjaro - Our First View

The mountain looked more like the backdrop of a movie scene than a solid 5894m high mountain we were hoping to conquer. The day's walking was around 6 and a half hours, including a stop for a 3-course lunch where the porters had set up a temporary camp for us. The walking was similar to Day 1 in that it was a gentle and slow ascent starting at 2,600 metres and ending at 3,550 metres. That was the first day that symptoms of altitude sickness affected a few members of our team, ranging from mild headaches to nausea. It was also the day when we started walking above the clouds. Although we didn't see the animals themselves, we saw elephant and buffalo dung and could see the plains of Kenya as we looked north, making us aware that although we were there to climb a mountain we were in the midst of a very special national park and ecosystem.

Day 3 continued much in the same vein as the previous two days, trekking for approximately 4 hours from 3,550 metres to 4,300 metres arriving at Mawenzi Tarn. This is a pretty spot beneath the imposing and spectacular Mawenzi mountain with its striking jagged peak and was to be our home for 2 nights as we rested for an acclimatisation day.

Mawenzi Tarn Camp

The acclimatisation day was useful as the effects of altitude sickness were causing a few more members of our team some problems with headaches and nausea.

On Day 4 we completed a 3 hour round trip up to 4,600 metres and back to camp. At our summit for the day, we had a wonderful view of the Saddle, an enormous flat expanse of what looks like wasteland, and beyond that the mountain. This was the closest we had yet been to the summit of Kilimanjaro and we could see the steep looking tracks that would take us to the summit. We realised the difficulty of the challenge ahead as we saw what looked like a sheer drop from the summit to Kibo Huts. Mat tried to convince us that as we looked ahead at the tracks, they appeared steeper than they actually were, which provided some comfort although turned out to be completely untrue!!

Views to the Summit Across The Saddle

When we got back from our acclimatisation walk (including a stop for calls home as we had mobile phone signals) we relaxed for the rest of the day. The grass around the water had been used by trekkers before us to spell out their names using rocks so Sara, Gilly and Rachel spelled out "Team Graeme" to make our mark. We also recruited one of our porters, Jivin, to help us spell out "Buff" by lying on the ground in a formation directed by Gilly! By this time our distinctive orange "Team Graeme" jackets and orange buffs had caused other groups to ask who we were and why we were wearing orange. As we explained that we were carrying some of Graeme's ashes, it seemed that, whilst everyone who climbs Kilimanjaro is attempting a wonderful thing, we were embarking on a particular memorable challenge. As the week progressed we talked more about Graeme and for some of us this spurred us on that little bit more. As our acclimatisation day ended we knew that the day ahead would be a colossal effort and some trepidation was setting in, even as the determination to succeed was growing ever stronger.

Day 5 was without doubt the hardest day for all sorts of reasons. After the first 45 minutes or so of moderately steep climbing (much steeper than most of the previous days' walking but nothing compared to the summit ahead!) we walked with the mountain and Kibo Huts, our destination for the day, in view. We walked another 5 or 6 hours that day across the Saddle with a couple of short stops. On crossing the Saddle it seemed as if the mountain never got any closer and because we knew we were attempting the summit that evening, we just wanted to get to the Huts as soon as possible. Eventually we did arrive, a few hundred yards after we had joined the Marangu Route that Graeme had taken. This was the first time we were literally walking in Graeme's footsteps and evoked very strong emotions.

After some snacks, team photo shoots and dinner, we had an early night and went to bed for a few hours' rest before being woken at 11pm. It had been snowing when we got up and the temperature was well below freezing - the nerves and excitement built as the enormous task ahead approached rapidly. We had some hot drinks and biscuits and a final team talk by Emmanuel before he put us in a prescribed order (interspersed with the guides and summit guides) and we set off at about 11.45 in single file and in total darkness save for our head torches, the beautiful stars overhead. Our many layers of clothing were vital on this last night, it was bitterly cold although thankfully not windy or snowing.

Snow on the Tent

We set off around 11.45 pm and walked as slow as we ever walked during the week, up incredibly steep volcanic scree. The face of the mountain was so steep that we zig-zagged up the slope of the mountain. We couldn't really see how steep it was and just had to concentrate on putting one step in front of the other and try to block out all other thoughts. Since we were already at an altitude of 4,700 metres when we started it was very tiring. Breathing was tiring and our hearts were racing. To lift one's foot more than a few inches off the ground was hard and when we had to scramble over rocks it seemed almost inconceivable that we would ever make it.

After a couple of hours of slow but hard walking we stopped for a short break and were given hot sweet black tea by our guides. Most of us would never drink such a thing under normal circumstances but it was like manna from heaven!

Refreshing Sweet Tea

Our 10-strong team became separated into two groups after a few hours' trekking. Rachel had gone to the toilet off the side of the track (dropping trousers at around minus 15 degrees Celsius not the most pleasant of experiences!) but the others had been told to continue as two guides waited for her. Rachel caught up with Mat, Gilly and Becs. These three had stopped because Becs was increasingly feeling the symptoms of altitude sickness and Mat and Gilly had stopped with her to try and help, whilst the other six had been urged by the guides to press on. Shortly after, Becs had to turn back for Kibo accompanied by a guide, leaving 9 on the mountain in groups of 6 and 3.

We had all brought plenty of water but as we got higher some of us found that the water in our insulated drinking tubes had frozen and dehydration started to set in. In the second group, Mat was the only one left with unfrozen water. Mat had put his water bottle in a used walking sock and this simple inexpensive method proved much more effective than the swanky insulated camelbaks the others had! He heroically shared his water with the eternally grateful Gilly and Rachel.

The other group did not have such severe problems with the water; most of them having spare bottles in their rucksack that had not frozen.

By chance, the first group were carrying the Team Graeme banner and Graeme's ashes and they reached Gilman's point (5685 m) at about 6 am where they saw the sunrise and had a brief stop for photos. After this short stop the next place before the summit was Stella Point (5786 m).

Sunrise at Gilman's Point

Keith had brought a can of Stella Artois lager with him that he intended to open at the summit since Graeme loved Stella Artois. Upon reaching Stella Point it seemed a more appropriate place to open the can and so at 6.30 am the first group opened it and took a sip. Whether it was the time of day, the altitude or what, everyone agreed that the beer tasted awful and so it was poured onto a rock. When they passed the rock on their way back from the summit an hour later the beer had frozen solid!

Approximately 20 minutes behind, the second group arrived at Gilman's point. Although there was still a couple of hours of walking to go, the steepest trekking was behind us all and we knew that with the summit in sight, as the sun continued to rise above the clouds, and the glaciers around the crater rim came into view, it was clear we were going to reach the summit, even though dehydration continued to affect us.

Glaciers at the Summit

From Gilman's Point, the summit was almost always in sight - the terrain was not difficult but we had been walking for over five hours, it was very cold and the air was thin. However, we plodded along and the first group, shown below, reached the summit at around 7.30 am.

Mount Kilimanjaro - Teams at Summit

Simon, John, Jo, Jake, Sara, Keith

Shortly after the photo was taken, Keith scattered some of Graeme's ashes on the summit. John said a prayer for Graeme and the group stood for few moments in silence. We had achieved our objective of bringing Graeme's ashes to the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro and it was a very powerful and emotional experience. It is not recommended staying at the summit for too long and so we soon set off on our descent and met the second group. When the two groups met we swapped Graeme's ashes to allow the second group to scatter some too.

Keith Scattering Graeme's Ashes

Here is the second group on the summit with our little orange friend and one of our guides.

Gilly, Ndoli, Rachel, Mbarak, Mat (The Hero)

Rachel and Gilly scattered more of Graeme's ashes underneath the sign at the summit, burst into tears and could only manage to say "We love you", an overwhelming experience that we could never forget. Graeme had reached the summit twice in half an hour, a feat he would no doubt be pleased about!

Gilly and Rachel Scattering Graeme's ashes

The descent from the summit to Kibo was done at an amazingly fast pace and whilst it took over 7 hours on the way up, it took around 2 hours to get down. The following photo shows the view of Kibo Huts from above.

A Long Way Down to Kibo

The volcanic scree we had painstakingly ascended became the means for scree-skiing on our way down and John demonstrates this technique in the following photo.

John Running Down The Scree

On returning to Kibo we were met by a couple of porters who had a drink of orange squash that, like the sweet tea in the middle of the night, felt like the sweetest taste we had ever had. We had around an hour before lunch (slightly less for the second group) during which time one saintly porter ran across the campsite to help a very dehydrated Rachel take off her boots! After lunch we walked a further four hours down to Horombo camp, 2000 metres lower down, where we were to spend the last night of our trip.

That evening at Horombo Camp, before dinner, we scattered more of Graeme's ashes just off the Marangu route track at a little ceremony attended by all 10 of the Team. Rachel then read out a poem called "Belief" by Ann Thorp that Mam had asked her to read:

I have to believe
that you still exist
that you still watch me
that you still love me

I have to believe
that life has meaning
that I am useful here
that I make small differences

I have to believe
that I need to stay here
for some time,
that all this teaches me
so that I can meet you again

Gilly then read out "i carry your heart with me" by ee cummins

i carry your heart with me (I carry it in
my heart) i am never without it(anywhere
i go you go, my dear; and whatever is done
by only me is your doing, my darling)
i fear
no fate (for you are my fate,my sweet) i want
no world (for beautiful you are my world, my true)
and it's you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you

here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life; which grows
higher than the soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that's keeping the stars apart

i carry your heart (i carry it in my heart)

A few other members of the team explained why they had wanted to come on the trip and then Rachel read out a collaboration with Dire Straits (aka plagiarism by Rachel's changing of the words to "Brothers In Arms"):

This mist covered mountain
Is a home now for you
But you stay in our memories
And always will do
We move on a little
But our hearts never mend
You'll always be with me
My brother and friend

Through your pain and your suffering
The cancer on fire
We witnessed your suffering
As the battle raged higher
And though it did hurt you so bad
You were strong til the end
You keep us all going
My brother and friend

You had many different dreams
And hopes for things unseen
And we have just one hope
As we think what might have been

Now the sun's gone to hell
And the moon's riding high
Let me bid you farewell
Every man has to die
Why your life was taken from you
We just cannot comprehend
You're always remembered
My brother and friend.

We later marked the spot with some prayer flags that Gilly had brought.

Prayer Flags at Ashes Site at Horombo


Our last day was also Jake's birthday and we had asked Emmanuel if it was possible for Mr Po to make some sort of cake for Jake. After breakfast the sound of singing was heard outside the mess tent and in came Emmanuel with Mr Po carrying a cake. It was also iced and had "Happy Birthday Jake" on it too! We don't know how Mr Po made this but it just summed up what he could do.

Jake's Birthday Cake

After breakfast the porters assembled for the customary singing of the Kilimanjaro song and we gave everyone their well deserved tips. Jake said a collective thank you to them all and after a few more group photos we packed up our gear for our last trek.

Team Graeme with The Porters

The last trek was a tough 6 hour walk down to the Marangu Gate; tough because we were tired from a week's trekking. Although now going downhill the trekking was steep and therefore hard on our knees, and after the exhilaration of reaching the summit and emotion of scattering Graeme's ashes we just wanted to be down off the mountain and have a shower! We eventually made it, had our final Mr Po meal (we scoffed down the pasta so fast we practically inhaled it!) and then had a short drive to the hotel where we had a quick shower and beer before setting off to the airport. So after taking 5 and a half days to reach the summit, it had taken about 30 hours to get down to the bottom and we were left wondering whether we had imagined the whole experience.

John and Jake were going off to Zanzibar and Johannesburg before heading back to Australia but the rest of us left Africa; and probably the most amazing experience of our lives - that very evening with many photos and memories of our successful Team Graeme trip. We had achieved our goal of scattering Graeme's ashes at the summit, a goal which had taken nearly two years to come to fruition.


The whole trip was an amazing experience for everyone. It was both physically and emotionally very demanding and we would like to thank everyone for their messages of support before and congratulations afterwards. Perhaps one day some of the team may return but Keith has said that if anyone asks him to go back he will shoot them so beware.

The guides who accompanied us on the trek were really wonderful, friendly people who made sure that we were properly acclimatised and did not take things too quickly.

A very special thanks to our wonderful leader, Emmanuel, for keeping an eye on all of us and for teaching us about the mountain and surrounding area throughout the week; thanks to our other guides Daniel and Hannington for setting our pace and looking after us; thanks to Mr Po for his wonderful food; thanks to the rest of our porters, including our summit guides Mbaraka, Lulu and Jivin; The porters and everyone on the support team cannot be praised too highly and nothing was too much trouble for them.

Thanks to all of those who sponsored and supported our trip, including Buff and Avoco.

Thanks to KE Adventure Travel for organising it all.

Without them all our trip would never have been as successful as it was.


We have set up an album of some of the photos of our trip so to have a look please click here Photos
There are currently over 200 photos and we have not yet received copies from everyone. We do plan to reduce this number but are aware that people were keen to see some photos now.

There is also a fair amount of video that was taken during the week and it is being edited. A link to the page with the finished videos is below.


We have some short videos of each day of our trek so to have a look at them please click here Videos

Kilimanjaro Kit Sponsors

We are especially grateful to our main sponsor for our superb wind-proof jackets.
Avoco UK Ltd, a telecommunications company based near Newcastle Upon Tyne, provided each team member with a Montane Super-Fly Mountain jacket in burnt orange as shown.
Avoco is owned by Graeme's cousin Mandy and her husband Martin and we are extremely grateful for their very generous offer. The jackets proved to be very useful against the wind and cold especially on the summit ascent.

These superlightweight jackets were imprinted with Team Graeme Kilimanjaro Trek 2008 on them. With all this orange gear we were asked by many people if we were Dutch. They certainly made us conspicuous and we looked very professional.

To see more mountainwear items from Montane click on the image of the jacket on the right

We would also like to thank Buffera Limited, a manufacture of a wide range of headwear known as Buffs. The company donated an orange "Naranja" Buff for everyone going to Kilimanjaro. We then had our black Team Graeme logo printed on to the Buffs for free by Logo-Motif, a printing firm based in Stockton who supplied our tee-shirts with the logo.

To see the vast range of these versatile headwear items please visit the Buff web site by clicking on the logo.
To see an example of the type of Buff that we had just type Naranja in the search box.

Here is a photograph of the team wearing our Buffs and Montane jackets at the camp at Kibo Hut. This is the last camp below the summit at an altitude of 4700 m

The Team Graeme Kili Trekkers at Kibo Huts

Trip Organisers

The trip was organised for us by KE Adventure Travel of Keswick in Cumbria. They did an absolutely terrific job and it was KE that suggested we follow the Rongai route to give us the best chance of reaching the summit. Please click on the logo to the right to go the KE Adventure web site.


Overall we have so far received about £3,500 in donations to our fund and we would like to thank everyone who has contributed.

We would especially like to thank Rachel's work colleagues at Dickinson Dees in Newcastle and their charity trust for their generous donations. The charity trustees had agreed to match the donations of their employees and so the £472 donated by individuals in the office was matched by the trust. Rachel has only worked there since June and we think that this was a tremendous gesture for which we are very grateful.

We are also very grateful to Rebecca and Mat's employers, KPMG in London who have kindly donated £250.

If you would like to make a donation to our fund on behalf of the whole group or for any individual then you are very welcome to do so. To do this on-line then please click here

Alternatively you can send a cheque to the address shown by clicking on this link Donations



We have managed to get some good publicity for our trek in the local press thanks to Avoco, the company that supplied our jackets. Avoco sent out a press release after we returned and following this we had stories published in the local papers.

Here are links to on-line versions of the story
Evening Gazette
Northern Echo

In addition to the newspaper articles, Keith did an interview at just after 7 in the morning on the local radio station TFM on Wednesday (22nd October) about the trip but we don't have a link to this or a recording. We actually know of a friend who got out of bed early especially to hear it. Doreen we think you deserve a prize. This interview stemmed from another early morning interview that Keith did with TFM a few days before the Team left for Kilimanjaro. TFM did try to phone us on the Mountain but we did not have a signal so the plan of a live interview from Mount Kilimanjaro did not materialise.