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Kilimanjaro 2012 – Back to the ground!

21 August 2012 One Comment

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In Mid-July, I posted my first blog as I had the opportunity to travel to Tanzania, Kilimanjaro and attempt a summit of Mount Kilimanjaro.

Kilimanjaro is a stratovolcano that is comprised of three craters; Shira, Mawenzi, and Kibo.  Uhuru Peak is the tallest point on Kibo’s crater rim topping out at 5895m, making it the tallest point in Africa and the world’s tallest free standing mountain.

There are 6 official trekking routes on Kilimanjaro all different from each other in length, scenery, and difficulty.  The trek I chose was the Machame route which is argued to be the most difficult as well as the most scenic.  It is a 7 day trek with 5 ½ days spent ascending and 1 ½ descending.

The Summit of Kilimanjaro is covered in snow, ice, and glaciers with temperatures wildly inconsistent and unpredictable.  On my particular summit day winds were 100kph gusts, snowing consistently, sub-freezing temperatures, and zero visibility.  Since 1912, 80% of the snow/ice has disappeared.

It took 19 porters and 4 guides to get myself and 5 friends to the summit. I reached the summit at 7am after leaving our highest camp (Barafu Camp) at 4633m with much discomfort. For the three days prior to summiting I succumb to the stomach flu. I was very dehydrated and malnourished from a lack of appetite. Via a large amount of will power and mental fortitude I pushed on through the physical pains and mild dementia I was experiencing from the high altitude and poor physical status. The amount of pain and sacrifice I had to go through to get there made it a very special experience for me.

While I was on my way up, I had plenty of time to ponder.  One of the things on my trek that really blew me away was the sea of clouds surrounding the mountain.  All the way around Kilimanjaro is a large expanse of rain forest which has a consistent cover of low hanging clouds so after we climbed out of the rainforest on day 2 it always appeared like we were on an island surrounded by a sea of clouds.

When looking out into this sea it reminded me of a turbid Spraytec sample and then I started thinking about measuring the water droplets making up the clouds.

Historically Malvern has been instrumental in the Turbine Engine industry in measuring fluid/air density for the impact on engine power.  Spraytec instruments could handle the high concentration as well as correct for multiple scattering that would surely be seen when trying to measure rainforest clouds.

As my colleague, Kyle Butz, pointed out; Malvern was on the Discovery Channel a few years ago on a show describing 10 ways to save the world.  Artificial clouds to block the sun was where the Spraytec was headlined.

You would need a pretty big Spraytec though…