black line
wedding button
my mum and dad
wedding button
wedding button

  printer friendly



My Wonder Woman Daughter
onquers Kilimanjaro
by Stan Briggs

kilimanjaro_machame route


My Wonder Woman Daughter

Christine Christine
Flying so high
Like an eagle in the sky
She flew so high
She rose like an arrow
Then she landed on Kilimanjaro


Earlier this year, my daughter Christine announced that she wanted a challenge, Over the last couple of years she has taken on a few ventures, one of which was walking the entire coastline of the Isle of Man in five days and covering a total of 110 miles. But she said that this year she wanted to focus on, and achieve, something BIG. Well as far as the something big goes, she certainly found something BIG ... she found Mt. Kilimanjaro ... The largest free standing mountain in the world! ... can't deny it ... that's BIG!

Once the flights and climb were booked Christine had four months to train. So after a few trips over to Yorkshire to kit herself out with a good pair of walking boots, trekking poles, warm weather gear etc., she then returned home and set about walking the shores, hills and cliff's around her home in the Isle of Man. One month before her departure date, she upped her game and started walking between four and five hours every day in a bid to build up her leg strength as much as possible. She knew that once there, she would have to climb seven or eight hours a day and in much harder conditions, not to mention the cold and the altitude and bad nights sleep, so she said had to push herself to do as much as she possibly could to help prepare for it.

When it was time to leave, she told me she felt as though she had done as much as she could to be prepared, she hoped that she would not be one of the unlucky ones who succumbs to altitude sickness and couldn't wait to get there and get on with it. She said she was nervous, as having never done anything like this before, the unknown was proving to be very daunting. After all, she would be walking in different kinds of terrain every day, sleeping in tents everynight in below zero conditions and there would be no washing facilities or proper toilets for the duration of the climb. She certainly did give herself a challenge.

On top of that, she was going to be doing all this with a total bunch of strangers. It was only when she would get to Tanzania that she would meet up with her fellow climbers.
Of course she had all the obvious questions; "Will I like them?", "Will they like me?", "Will we all get on together?"
All of which proved to turn out just fine, she has since told me that she could not have wished to meet a better bunch of people if she had been able to hand pick them.


Christine called this the Jurassic
part of the mountain as all the
plants were monster size

High altitude and very cold
camp site


Morning in camp, taking in the views before starting out for another days walking


Chrisitne with Felix, the
teams lead Guide

having a rest stop
and passing round the sweeties


Every photo opportunity was also a good
excuse for a quick rest

To make things as easy as possible and to settle everyone's minds at home that Christine was safe and sound. She arranged to text her son, Travis as often as she coulod get a mobile signal on the mountain to give him updates on her progres. In turn, he would then send out emails to the rest of us. I have listed some of these emails at the end of this article to give you an idea of what life was like on the mountain for Christine.

Almost there, not
far from
Stella Point

  I can't tell you how many times I checked my 'in-box' that week, eager to know where she was and how she was doing. There were a few delays with info when she had not been able to get a signal. Im sure you will all understand how much we worried when we didn't hear from her and how relieved we were when we did.  

Stood on the rim of the volcano with the glaciers in th background. It would be another hour from this point before Christine reached the actual summit.

At last we got the news, she had made it to the summit. She said the last leg of the climb had begun at midnight and they had climbed all through the night, finally reaching Stella Point, the rim of the volacano at day break, they had then carried on for the last hour to the actual summit in sub-zero conditions and only breathing 50% of the oxygen you would normally breath. It had been one of the hardest things she had ever done, but at the same time one of the most exhilerating and self satisfying - She had stood on the Roof of Africa - The worlds highest free standing mountain - Mt. Kilimanjaro - 5895m ... Now all that was left to do ... was to climb back down!

Christine's ascent of Mt. Kilimanjaro took six days and the descent took a further two days. She reached the summit at 8:00am on the 27th of September 2009.


Message to Christine:
"All your family and friends who followed your progress send you our love and congratulations, you have made us all very proud of you.
As your guide who nicknamed you 'My Christina' said WELL DONE.
Love from Dad,Mum, Barry, Tony all the family and all your friends"


Messages sent home and then emailed on by Travis (Christine's son):

Dear all,
I'm sure everyone knows that my mum Chris is now well on her way to Kilimanjaro. After spending the day with her yesterday and dropping her off at the airport hotel, I received a text from my mum at 4:40am this morning saying that she had been up since 3am and was the only person at the gate, waiting to board the plane. Manchester airport was empty apparently and a breeze to get through so maybe she's been treated to a private charter of some kind! 
I'm not sure whether or not anyone else did board the plane, but I received another text at 8:30am just saying that she was stopping briefly in Amsterdam; preparing to board for the long haul. The flight from Amsterdam to Kilimanjaro is approximately 9 and a half hours I think, so I might get some more information later on today.
I'll keep these e-mails going once or twice daily, depending on how much I get through from her. Thank you all for showing your support, I think it will be a massive achievement for her, and I for one am extremely proud! 
I'm sure there'll be more to talk about once the travel is over and the serious stuff begins!
Speak soon,
Travis Birdsall

Well the first bit of news I got today wasn't too great, it looks like mum has forgotten to take her sony ericsson phone with her, which is the one she had all the outdoor chargers for. She said she's going to keep updating from her iphone but we're not sure how long the battery will last. Hopefully she'll be able to figure something out, I've asked her about it but will have to wait for a reply.
Aside from that though it's all looking good, I received a text from her at 5:20am (7:20am Kilimanjaro time) saying that she was just going for a briefing before leaving for the mountain. Nerves were suddenly kicking in for her but she said "I'll suck it up and get on with it, sure I will be fine", and when the next message arrived 2 and a half hours later, it was clear she would be. After just seeing the mountain for the first time, her exact words were... well I won't put the 'exact' words, it might not be suitable, but lets just say it's "jaw droppingly awesome!". To see it in the 'flesh' for the first time must be quite something, to even think about climbing it must be something else entirely!
That was the last message I received so far today and it ended with her saying she was dead excited now, so I'm eagerly awaiting the next message, as is everyone else I'm sure!
Speak soon,

Right then the first day has been completed! Our little adventurer is "filthy, wet through with sweat and totally knackered". She has spent 6 hours walking up very steep inclines and is extremely happy, with a fantastic bunch of people climbing alongside her. She might be the oldest there by 10 years but she says they've all been very supportive and egging her on all the way, even if she is a tad slower at times. She's had a great days climbing and is now at 3000 metres, got a tent to herself and managed to grab some food around 6:10pm Kilimanjaro time. She seems very pleased with the trip so far and mentioned that all the guides are great too, so looks like she's got the right kind of company! 
Good news on the phone front too, one of the guys there has got a solar charger that he uses for his iPhone and offered to give mums phone a full charge whenever she needs it, so we'll be able to keep in contact! She will still be switching her phone off inbetween updates just to conserve as much battery as possible, and I think this is why she hasn't been getting messages from me. I'll keep trying to see if I get a response, but at the moment I'm just getting the updates, so for those that have wanted me to pass on kind regards and such, don't worry I have been trying! The last of the updates today ended with her saying she'll do her best to make us proud :-)
Speak soon,

Well I got quite a few messages off Mum today, I think it's because she tries to send them when there is no signal and then when there is some they all come at once! So, I'm not too sure about the timing this time around, but she has finished the second days climbing and is now safely in the camp. She says she felt really good today as they brought her to the front of the group to lead them into camp, which I'm sure was a great lift to her spirits! She can't begin to explain how gruelling it is but she's very happy to be there and is really enjoying the whole experience, apart from at night when the sun goes down and the camps become freezing! At 4000 metres though I can imagine why! 
The other experience of the camps are the toilets, which are named "long drop" toilets... speaks for itself she says! Not pleasant but apparently its surprising how quickly you don't care. Having said that though she also tells me she's never been so dirty and smelly in her life, but again she really doesn't care! The terrain looks Jurassic, she says, keeps expecting to see a dinosaur! I don't think she'll be coming across them anytime soon, but of course a much less visible danger is the altitude sickness. So far she's not had any altitude problems, although some people have already, so fingers, toes and everything else crossed for her! She signed off today saying that she still can't believe she's managing to climb everyday and really hopes she can keep it up, all the way to the top. She also sends out her love and thanks to everyone for their support and thoughts, it's very much appreciated! 
Speak soon,

First of all I'll just apologise for not getting yesterdays update out, MUM IS FINE! :-)  I was out of the house most of the day and I've been feeling a little ill since, so I'll send out both updates today, distinguishable by the date in the subject :-)
The first message I received was to say that she had safely arrived at Barranco Camp, after 8 hours of walking! It had been an emotional day for her and the team as one of the members succumbed quite badly to altitude sickness. The porters had to take him back down to a lower camp where he quickly recovered, though mum said it really brought reality knocking on the door... The rest of the team however carried on up to Lava Tower, mum says she's doing really well apart from being tired, but the whole group is a little worn out at the moment and everyone is feeling the same! She went as high as 4600 meters and then back down to 3950, to help with the acclimatization. Must be a bit of a pain having to go all the way up then come back down again, but she says she's seen the most fantastic views today, she says "it's just unreal, awesome, breath taking and totally knackering :-) but in the best way". She's still loving every moment, really happy that she's doing it and gaining more confidence now of a successful summit on The Roof of Africa. 
She sends out her love to all, and I'll pass on the messages from all of you when she next has signal.
Speak soon,

Well, I woke up this morning and promptly received a text from mum, she has successfully climbed Barranco Wall! Some more editing will be required here, but the message started with "******* ****! If you could see what I have just climbed!" She says it's virtually vertical, and put very simply if you fall you're dead! Luckily though the guides are "the best" and they really do watch your every move making sure everything goes well. Once she had reached the top of Barranco she stopped to have a few Percy Pigs! (Our favourite sweets for those of you who don't know) Very well deserved I think :-) Then it was 5 hours to camp, before grabbing some lunch and preparing for the next little trip: an hours ascent and then another hours descent back down to camp again. They do this for the altitude sickness, the longer you take to gain height, the more you can acclimatize, and the lower the risk of sickness. 
She wants to let everyone know that she is still doing well, of course she is knackered now but "very much in the game, not dead yet!", which is great to hear. The last message today ended with her saying "You can't keep a Pontefract girl down eh?" :-)
I imagine she'll send out another couple of texts later today as they don't usually arrive so early. I'll keep them coming if she does. It all seems to be going great so far though and she also says to Scott and myself that she's going to make us both so proud of our old mum :-) She's desperate to talk and say more but she needs to conserve the battery as much as possible! 
Speak soon,

Mum has got back to me again today saying that she is now at the Karanga camp. Tomorrow they will be walking up to base camp and then at midnight they set off for the summit!
Breathing has become difficult now due to the altitude, she says every move has to be done slowly, very slowly, but she is feeling strong and positive. The group have all made a pact to help eachother up ... started as a team ... summit as a team ... pain heals ... glory lasts forever! 
She'd like to let everyone know that it's your messages, love and wishes that are keeping her going. For now though she's wrapped up in her sleeping bag and signing off for the night. 
More updates to follow, the next few days should be very interesting! 
Speak soon,

Had a couple of messages off mum early this morning. At 6am Kilimanjaro time the team at Karanga camp were just waking, mum says she was feeling pretty rough, didn't get a good nights sleep, very sore throat, puffy eyes and pins and needles. Not the best way to wake up I imagine but everything must be so difficult now. They were about to walk 4 hours to base camp and then set off for the summit at midnight. She says she was a bit scared about leaving camp in the dark, as its hard enough getting around the camp at night with just a headtorch. However, spirits were still high throughout the camp even though everyone was looking a bit scrappy now. 
She says it's weird getting out of your bed in the morning, looking down, and seeing the tops of clouds. And yes it's freezing!! She then said she'll contact again once at base camp...
...and she did! this time she actually called me. They made it to basecamp, very tired and emotional. Says she never thought she could push herself this far, today "took hard to the limit", and with a few tears, she said she'll contact again once she's had a chance to gather herself together.That was around mid-day and I've not heard back since. I think this part of the journey is going to be the most demanding yet rewarding bit for her now, mum won't go this far just to stop and I have every confidence she's going to make it all the way to the top. Hopefully there will be a few more messages later on today, before she sets off for the summit tonight.

Well I have heard from mum again today. I think it will have been around 5:20pm Kilimanjaro time when I got a message saying she was just laying down in her tent, she would love to sleep but she couldn't, and it's very hard to breathe where they are now. Her face has swollen and she feels like she has a flu, all of which should disappear on the descent tomorrow. After they have tonights tea, she'll be dressing in every bit of clothing she took with her, then another lay down in the tent until they are called to go! The last leg of her journey so far was the toughest she said, tougher than anything she can ever imagine so now she just really hopes she can make it the rest of the way.
The next updates I imagine will be either just before she sets off again, or from the top, so it's all very exciting at the moment! I'll be sure to get the rest out as quickly as possible.
Speak soon,

Well, the news is in, and SHE'S MADE IT!!! Reached the summit at around 8:30 this morning. I've only had a quick phone call off her so I think I'll send out another update later if she sends me some texts. It's all paid off though, she sounds great on the phone, really pleased with herself though it's the toughest thing she has ever had to do! I'm really proud of her, and I can't wait to hear more about it and see some pics. 
Will update you when I hear some more, 

Ok I have a little more information off mum now. She says it took 9 hours from midnight to make the summit, is gruelling, freezing, extreme high altitude conditions. A couple of the team members were throwing up and all in all it was the hardest thing she has ever done. Then of course there is the descent back to base camp for some lunch, and then do another 5 hour walk back to their last camp. She had just arrived when I got her message and says shes bedraggled! But, she has stood at the top of Kilimanjaro :-)
Speak soon,


The next time I heard from Mum, she was back at the hotel and enjoying a few well earned beers with her team. She is over the moon, very very happy, as I am sure you can well imagine.
Thank you all again for following her climb and for all the messages yu have been sending to me, I will be sure to make sure she gets them all.
Travis Birdsall, KIlimanjaro Reporter

Signing Off ... ... ...