Hallucinations, exhaustion and Swahili: Summiting Africa’s highest point

Did you go to your 8.30 this morning?

Mount Kilimanjaro has been conquered by Exeter’s Raise and Give society. Alys Reed, Ellie Crinall and their colleagues in Exeter’s RAG society climbed to the summit for charity Hope for Children.

Ellie at Uhuru Peak

Ellie at Uhuru Peak

What motivated you to undertake this enormous task? 

Ellie: I think what motivated me, as it always has in life, is seeking adventure but knowing that you’re using your time to benefit others.

One of the most rewarding things was seeing how the money raised changed the lives of the children in Armani orphanage in Moshi, Tanzania.

Alys: I was motivated by the excitement of undertaking a new adventure with a whole team of people, but mainly because we were fundraising for the fantastic charity Hope for Children.

Tell us about the journey.

Ellie: I think we’d be here all night if I told you all my favourite bits, but definitely getting to know my team and the guides was very life affirming.

I also learnt some pretty cool Swahili like how to say “hello cutie”.

Alys: The best experience was seeing sunrise on summit night- we had to get up at midnight to start walking to the summit and it was freezing and we were all running on 3 hours sleep maximum so we were all exhausted.

Alys (left) and fellow climber Holly.

Alys (left) and fellow climber Holly.

How arduous was the trek?

Ellie: The journey was long and short at the same time, each day was a struggle and yet the entire thing was over before we knew it.

Unfortunately I was unwell from day one making it all the more harder, but also more rewarding for persevering with it.

Alys: The journey was really really long and definitely the most difficult thing I’ve done!

The altitude sickness was tough at times, but it was still really good fun because we would all support each other up there when someone was flagging or feeling unwell.


What was it like to reach the peak?

Ellie: Reaching the peak was such a surreal experience. Weirdly I think it was the first time I took a proper breath in days because of the relief and pride in making it.

It was emotional, I’m so proud of everyone for what they achieved.

Alys: Reaching the peak was incredible. You see all these glaciers and you’re above the clouds and everyone is just so relieved to have made it!

I was so tired I kept seeing faces in rocks, but being there makes all of the exhaustion worth it because you’ve achieved something huge.



Alys and Ellie back on campus.

Could you tell me more about hallucinating? Was the trek surreal for anybody else?

Alys: The faces in rocks thing was pretty weird, they looked like old men staring at me, I was trying to take a picture at one point but I was too tired to get my camera out of my pocket.

It could get pretty weird, we were all just pretty dazed and not making much sense, finding it tiring to walk from your tent to the mess tent due to the altitude.

At the summit I was staggering quite a bit as well, wandering off the path, so I had a friend walk with me to keep me focused.