Getting to “My Top” (Iain)

I got to the top of Kilimanjaro.

Not the real top. That would be the bit the map claims to be the top.

I got to “My Top”!

I’d never planned or desired to Climb Kilimanjaro but the opportunity arose so, at short notice, I decided to do it. My thought  was it can’t be that hard – even Cheryl Cole had done it.

I was fit. I could run marathons, I could bike for miles but I hadn’t considered altitude sickness. From the moment I arrived in Tanzania I felt ill. I’d left Edinburgh (which is at sea-level) and within 24 hours I was at camp one at an altitude of nearly 2000m.

A porter saw I was ill so he offered me a Custard Cream.

I’m not sure a sweet biscuit is a cure for altitude sickness. If sweet biscuits are a medicine then I’ve eaten so many, I should never get ill.

Each day I felt worse and worse. I barely ate, and I slept appallingly. Most days I was walking only a few hundred meters before I had to disappear behind a bolder to throw up.


Yet on summit day I woke up and felt great. Unfortunately, it was too late. I didn’t have the energy to get to the top. Once I got as far as I could I turned to the porter and said “I’m heading down”.

The two of us then headed down whilst everyone else headed up. For the first time since I’d started walking, the mountain was empty of people. There was no queue of walkers, no waiting for people to get out of the way. There was just  silence and an amazing view as the sun came up. I’d got to “My Top” and it was great.

Would I have had the same experience if I’d gone to the top. Would I have enjoyed sharing the top with everyone else? I’ll never know but I don’t feel I missed out.

The lesson here is – don’t worry if you fail. Sometimes failing is the best bit. Embrace “Your Top”