Sunday, December 11, 2011

Charity Climb! Kilimanjaro Conquered!

Hello All

 My sister Yashmita climbing Kilimanjaro and leaving for Tanzania on Saturday, 10th Dec to start her climb. She is climbing with a group called Soul Adventures  ( .They are attempting the Uhuru Peak Summit via the Western Breach stand on the highest point in Africa-5895m. They will be spending a night at the crater camp with the ancient glaciers as their sentinel. This route is nick-named the Whisky route because it is very difficult as opposed to the Coco-cola route which is tourist-easy.

Yashmita on the left (well my Right but your Left)

Yashmita being squished in the middle

Us acting like complete Groupies with Amor Vittone

I'm excited for her but pretty nervous as well. It takes a lot not to bawl my eyes out like I used to do when she was at University and had to go back after University holidays.
She is passionate about education and children’s welfare in SA and is involved in many organisations that foster this. One that is particularly close to our hearts is the St Mary’s Children’s Home ( in the South of JHB . The home has been in existence for over 100 years and take care of aids orphans and abandoned children and babies. The home is in danger of closing (funding issues with the lottery) and will be closed next March if enough money cannot be raised. She is raising money for St Mary’s during her climb and would really appreciate it if you or your company could contribute to her cause. She is also raising money for a group called FRIENDS FOR LIFE based in Kwazulu-Natal that helps send kids to school and University. If you are comfortable, a donation can be made to :
Bank: Standard Bank
Branch: The Glen
Branch Code: 006005
Swift Code: SBZAZAJJ
Account no: 002860503
Account name: St Mary's Children's Home
Please use you’re her name (Yashmita ) as the beneficiary reference along with your name  and please email her the confirmation so that she can properly thank you.
Thank you so much!
Her Contact Details:  Yashmita Bhana
Director :                     Nihka Consulting Services
E-mail :               


UPDATE: 10/12/11

I get up super early to wish my sister luck.My sister gets to Lusaka with Arienne (another lady that is also climbing and that flew from JHB) Huge rush for the plan to Nairobi and . Sigh , their luggage didn't turn up and they are faced with the reality that if it doesn' turn-up they won't be able to climb. No luggage, no climb.

PRECISION AIR customer review : 15 April 2009 : by Mark Bunz
 Customer Rating : 1/5
  One of the worst airlines I have encountered. Arrived last Saturday on time for a 15.15h flight from Arusha to Dar es Salaam via Zanzibar. Was told that the flight to Dar es Salaam wasn´t happening due to technical difficulties. We therefore were transported with a shuttle bus to Kilimanjaro airport where a flight to DAR was going to leave at 18.00h. Shortly before we left Arusha a Precision Air flight was coming in and was soon to leave for Zanzibar ?? Our request to get a seat on that flight ( which was our original flight) was refused. Finally arrived at the Kilimanjaro airport where we were brought to a special lounge informed that there isn´t a 18.00 h flight to DAR. Supposedly a rerouted Kenyan Airways plane from Nairobi would bring us to DAR at 19.30h, but as we had an onward flight at 21.20 from DAR to ZRH we were told that the connection time wouldn´t be sufficient. One of the staffers therefore called Nairobi (where our onward flight was to be refilled on the way to Europe) to request that we could board in Nairobi instead of DAR, but to no avail. Finally boarded the Kenyan Airways 737 at 19.30h which was full of mosquitos, never seen such a pest infested plane ever before. The captain told us that he had waited for more than an hour but was told that the stranded guests (we) wouldnt be there yet although we had waited for more than 3 hours at the airport. Finally made it to DAR and were able to reach the onward flight due to the huge goodwill of a Swissport ground staff at DAR. If you can avoid Precision Air avoid them as not every unorganized bunch of people should be allowed to start an airline.


My sister hires some things and the rest of the group share their things -socks,vitamins, sunblock and when they are about to set off they hear that they found their luggage - at least a porter can bring it to them if it really is their luggage.

 A bit of relief that she has started her climb and reached the first camp.

A pic of the camp that she sent through. This is her first Camp (Machame).
They have a small wash from  a teeny bowl and everything in her bag was jumbled-up. They are at 3000m
after walking 11.5km. Very tough 11.5 km of extreme uphill

UPDATE : 13/12/11

I think it's fascinating that you can BBM (I'm sure it's a term in the Oxford dictionary by now) from the slopes of Mt. Kilimanjaro . So we have a little sister group on the BBM chat and have been BBM-ing my  Yashmita words of encouragement and BBM huggy-faces and hearts. Yesterday she reached Shira Camp @ 3800m and it was a steep climb and mentioned that it was raining and *expletive* cold.

Today they started at 8:45 and when she last messaged she was at 4051m. Today they're doing 15km. Two more days until they reach the top!

Update: 16/12/11
Okay , nothing from my sister since yesterday (Thursday). On Tuesday she said it was very tough and they got caught in a sleet storm - and that it is "very very very cold". This was at 2:45 Pm and they were resting at camp. On Wednesday she said it was *expletive* cold and snowing and everyone had altitude sickness except for her which is amazing since she is the poster child for "sea-sick,car-sick, motion-sickness". Super proud of her! Can't wait until she gets home. At 10:31AM on Wednesday she was at the Arrow Glacier camp and she said that it was snowing,sleeting,windy,tough and cold. She said they were going to climb halfway up the western breach to acclimitise and then back to camp.

Update : 23/01/2012. Well my sister got to the top but what drama. Two porters fell off the cliff, it was terrible, luckily they are fine now. They reached the top but had to descend the last day. On descent they walked in the dark , and all had to camp in this teeny little hut thing and not at the camp they were supposed to - in the cold. Luckily the porters were there and could find them this tiny little hut. Anyway on the last day they walked 45km and were relieved and happy to make it.
We were so happy when my sister got home and she recently revealed a giant secret to us - THAT SHE WAS 8 WEEKS PREGNANT WHEN SHE WENT UP THE MOUNTAIN!
She only found up 3 days before she left. Also by the way she is 41! Well thankfully all is well! We used to tease her months before with the name Mata( mother/goddess) Manjaro (from Kilimanjaro) - little did we know. Anyway it's amazing and we are really proud of her.

Check out her story in the TAME TIMES   Below is the text from the TAME TIMES story about her

"What started out as a climb for charity became a journey within for Brackenhurst resident, Yashmita Bhana (41). Yashmita successfully summited Mount Kilimanjaro last year December with St. Mary’s Children Home and Friends for Life benefitting from her adventure however this tale comes with a lot of twists, which in turn has made Yashmita the courageous woman she is.
Yashmita decided to climb Kilimanjaro eight years ago but she fell pregnant, as a result her bucket list item was put on hold. Fast forward to 2011, Yashmita decided it was the year to tick it off her bucket list so arrangements were made with Soul Adventures as well as the decision that she will be climbing for charity. Three days before Yashmita was due to leave, she found out she was eight weeks pregnant. “I didn’t want to disappoint the charities and I knew if I put it off I would have to wait another four years before I could do it, so I decided I was still going to do it.” Yashmita said.
Thus, the journey began and so did the twists: Yashmita met the group she would be climbing the Whiskey Route with and informed them she would like to talk as little as possible while climbing as a form of meditation, all the while waiting for her luggage to arrive due to it getting lost on a connecting flight. The luggage came just before the climb commenced.
At the Shira campsite, the group caught a glimpse of Kilimanjaro and the porters told them the legend that if Kilimanjaro reveals herself to you, it means you were not going to make it. The group didn’t give it too much thought. When reaching the Western breach, the trouble started as it had snowed heavily and the head porter was concerned about the sun melting the snow making it dangerous to climb. The decision to leave earlier in the morning was taken but sadly that didn’t stop two porters from falling and injuring themselves.
A further decision was taken to leave all the porters behind and carry on with the climb to the glaciers, spend an hour there then summit to the top and come half way down which equated into 16 hours of climbing.Once Yashmita arrived at the glaciers, she was so overwhelmed by the fact that was the most dangerous thing she had ever done and that she was still alive, the tears just rolled down her face. “The summit was almost an anti-climax compared to the glaciers,” Yashmita said.
Yashmita reached the top of Kilimanjaro and her goal had been achieved. “To think when you are standing there, you are the highest person in Africa, is mind blowing.”
“Climbing down was tough as it takes a toll on the knees.” They reached Barafu campsite and due to exhaustion decided to spend the night there even though the porters were waiting at Millenium Campsite except there were no available tents. The group eventually paid to sleep in the cleaners’ room. The next day they finished the last leg of their journey. “Last year I worked so hard, I lost myself in work but through this trip I have found myself again. I don’t stress about the little things anymore and you realise what is really important and that is family.” "

They also wrote an article in The Sunday Times (national paper) :

A Raven!

Yikes - a long drop!

Snow at 2 am , my sister outside her tent taking the pic. She couldn't sleep.

Looking tired and unhappy

Western Breach

They were all so happy that they cried

On the way down
A prezzie she got for herself. They got it from the teeny town called Moshi (it has a one-holed Golf Course - so says the Hotel info sheet)j

 A prezzie my sister got me.

This is what the itinerary said :

Saturday 10 Dec 06H40 Arrive at O.R. Tambo Airport and check in

Saturday 10 Dec 09H40 Flight leaves for Nairobi via SAA

Saturday 10 Dec 14h45 Flight arrives in Nairobi.

Saturday 10 Dec 15H30 Check in with Kenyan Airlines for flight to Kilimanjaro

Saturday 10 Dec 18H00 Flight leaves for Kilimanjaro

Saturday 10 Dec 19H00 Flight arrives in Kilimanjaro

Saturday 10 Dec 19H30 Meet transfer representative who will drive us to the hotel
in Moshi.

Saturday 10 Dec 20H15 Arrive at the Protea Hotel Aishi. We will check in, have
dinner and maybe a beer or two. No trashing of the hotel
allowed (yet). As we will be climbing the next day, we will
also have a pre-climb briefing. Maybe a word with the
harbour master to see if there is a tug coming and it’s off to

Sunday 11 Dec 06H30-07H30 Breakfast.

Sunday 11 Dec 07H30-09h30 Final preparations. We will make use of the hotels storage
facilities for extra luggage and valuables. Please ensure you
have your tissues for the tears.

Sunday 11 Dec 09H30-10H30 We will be met by our driver. We will load our equipment
onto the vehicle. We will then be driven to the Machame
gate which is about 20 minutes away. Once we arrive, we
will sign in, organise the porters, put rocks in Jacques bag
without him seeing, shout at the trees and put a green
sweet wrapper in our left pocket.

Sunday 11 Dec 10H30-14h30 We begin the climb. The climb starts from Machame Gate
(1,800m.) After a short walk through the attractive banana
and coffee farms of Machame village, the path follows a
ridge through dense mountain forest. This is the richest
forested area on the mountain and also the zone from
where 96% of the water on Kilimanjaro originates. On
sunny days and especially in dry season, this section is very
lush and beautiful. We have lunch at 'Halfway Clearing’: a
small opening in the trees. After lunch we continue climbing
steadily. The gradient becomes gentler as the forest slowly
merges into giant heather close to the next camp near the
ruins of Machame Hut (3,000m.) We may get our first
closer look at the glaciated peak of Kibo if the evening
clouds permit. [3-4 hours walking].

Monday 12 Dec 09H30-14h30 A shorter day that begins by climbing up a steep ridge to
reach a small semi-circular cliff known as Picnic Rock. There
are excellent views of Kibo and the jagged rim of Shira
Plateau from here, and it is a good rest point too! The trail
continues less steeply to reach the Shira Plateau. We camp
near Shira Hut (3,840m.) which has some of the most
spectacular views on Kilimanjaro and is close to the huge
volcanic cone of Kibo. We should also be able to see Mt
Meru floating on the clouds on the horizon. [4-5 hours
walking] .

Tuesday 13 Dec 09H30-15h30 Today the trees become more and more sparse and
soon we will be climbing up through an alpine
moorland of lichens, grasses and heather. We hike up
to the Lava Tower, a volcanic neck, which you can
climb for a spectacular view of the Shira Plateau,
Kilimanjaro, and Moshi Town in the Distance-This is
also useful for acclimatisation. After climbing the Lava
Tower Rock itself, we will settle down for the rest of the
day at the Lava Tower Camp(4600m). We have also
scheduled an acclimatisation climb of about 300m to
help with the acclimatisation process.

Wednesday 14 Dec 09H30-14h30 Today we will continue climbing towards the Western
Breach, through a desert landscape of scree and rocky
ridges. We will enjoy some amazing views of The
Western Breach Wall from our camp for the night
known as The Arrow Glacier Camp(4850m). The entire
Shira Plateau will be below you. An easy day of only 3
hrs of walking, but on very steep terrain. We stop at
lunchtime at the camp and in the afternoon, we climb
200m higher for acclimatization purposes and return to
camp for a game of ching chong cha. Loser has to
share the tent with Ralph.

Thursday 15 Dec 09H30-12H30 Today is a difficult day!!! You will start to feel the
effects of altitude on your body. And it is going to be
extremely cold!!! We will be ascending The Western
Breach, an imposing steep wall of rock leading to the
edge of the Crater. We will cross by the Furtwangler
Glacier until we reach our camp for the night. (5730m).
The air is thin and it is very cold. The glacier towers
above you. The scenery is spectacular!! If you are up
for it, we can take the 30 min, walk to the edge of the
crater rim. Tonight we will have dinner and sleep until
about 5 or 5-30.the next morning. Probably not going
to be the best sleep you have ever had. Might be a
good idea to bring your favourite teddy bear with to
keep you company through the long night.

Friday 16 Dec 01H00-15H00 Before dawn we will make our last ascension over
scree, zig-zagging up to Uhuru Peak (5895m), the roof
of Africa. You will witness the most amazing sunrise
ever!! The glaciers turn pink and gold as the sun hits
them. ( weather dependent of course). After a photo
stop we descend down the scree slope to Stella Point
(5795m) and then steeply down to Barafu. ( knees are
going to take a hammering!)The descent to Barafu is
surprisingly fast, and after some refreshment, we
continue to descend to reach our final campsite
(3,100m.) at the edge of Mweka Forest. It is a long
descent on a rocky path and you will be tired. We
reach the Mweka camp at the Edge of the Tropical
Forest for dinner and overnight at the Mweka Camp.
(3100m)-You will have walked between 8 to 10hours

Saturday 17 Dec 07H30-11h30 A sustained descent through lovely forest with lush
undergrowth takes us to the National Park gate at Mweka
(1,650m.); and on through coffee and banana plantations to
Mweka village. [3-4 hours walking].We will be met by our
driver and will be driven back to the Protea Hotel

Saturday 17 Dec 12h30-
Beer, Shower, beer, beer, lunch, beer, beer, swim, beer,
beer, swim, beer, dinner, presentation of certificates, beer,
vomit, beer, beer, trash the hotel,sleep. Maybe a word or
two with the harbour master. If you are willing, we could
make a stop at the local night club called ‘La Liga’-an truly
awesome spot!!! Nothing like what you would expect.

Sunday 18 Dec 05H30 Puke up a lung, eat the lung and proceed to breakfast for
the recovery process.

Sunday 18 Dec 06H30 We will be picked up to be transferred to the Kilimanjaro

Sunday 18 Dec 07H15 Arrive at airport and check in with Kenyan Airlines
Sunday 18 Dec 09H15 Flight leaves for Nairobi
Sunday 18 Dec 10H15 Flight arrives in Nairobi
Sunday 18 Dec 14H00 Check in with SAA for flight back to JHB
Sunday 18 Dec 19H15 Arrive back in SA. No crying allowed.

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