A 66-year-old grandfather-of-three from Ashton-under-Lyne in Greater Manchester has succeeded in conquering one of the world’s toughest climbs.
India-born Manhar Taylor moved with his family to Tanzania in 1963 and caught his first glimpse of Mount Kilimanjaro two years later. He began dreaming of climbing the 5,895 metres to the top of the world’s highest free-standing mountain, yet it would be another 48 years until that dream came true.
Mr Taylor came to the UK in 1968 but it wasn’t until August 18, 2016 that he and a group of four friends from Ashton-under-Lyne, Bolton and London would leave the UK for Tanzania to begin the adventure of a lifetime.
Speaking exclusively to IndiaGBnews.com reporter Rahul Laud, Mr Taylor talks about his emotional journey, fulfilling a lifelong ambition and raising more than £7,000 for charity.
Day 1 – On 20th August we commenced the trek from Machame Gate, ascending through a stunning rainforest. For me it was a magnificent way to start our challenge. Our trekking distance was around 10km, which took us seven hours, reaching a height of 3,021m.
Day 2 – We began with breakfast then pushed on with our ascent. It was a rather slow hike as it was steep and rocky in places, but gave us enough time to acclimatise. We carried on until we reached the Shira Plateau, where we were rewarded with fantastic views of the mountain, Kilimanjaro, as well as Mount Meru rising above the town of Arusha. Our trekking distance was 7km, which took us six hours, reaching a height of 3,839m.
Day 3 – We began trekking over high moorlands with scenery now changing the whole character of our challenge. We steadily made our way uphill to the Lava Tower and stopped for lunch, followed by a three-hour descent to our camp at Barranco. Today was a good day for acclimatisation as we climbed up to 4,600m and then slept at 3,950m. I was slightly disappointed to learn that for all our effort we only gained 111m in height after trekking 10km for seven hours.
Day 4 – As usual we began with breakfast and then set off to conquer great Barranco Wall, known as Breakfast Wall as it’s the first challenge of the day. It was scrambling using our hands and feet, but not quite rock climbing. Once we took in our achievement at the top of the wall, we witnessed stunning views across the mountain towards the Karranga Valley. We continued through the undulating green valley until we reached our camp. Today we slept at 4,100m and trekking was approximately 6km for five hours.
Day 5 – Today we pushed on from Karranga Camp to Barafu Camp at 4,600m. It was a short but steep ascent and we were rewarded with breathtaking views of the Decken Glaciers. We reached our camp then it was an early dinner and a few hours rest before making our bid for the summit.
Day 6 – We woke up at 11pm and left the Barafu Camp at midnight for our summit attempt, using head torches to light the way. We trekked for five hours to reach Stella Point (5,750m) over scree and rocks. Here we were rewarded with magnificent and spectacular views of the ice cliffs that surrounded us and majestic views to the Mawenzi Peaks.
From here we pushed on towards the summit. We took rest stops every 15 minutes to aid our chances of reaching Uhuru Peak. I achieved my lifelong dream at 7.45am. I did not stop too long at the peak though as the temperature was -18C and my fingers and toes were getting too cold. After a quick few photos I started my long descent via Stella Point and back to Barafu Camp, where I had lunch and couple of hours’ rest. Continuing the descent, we reached Millennium Camp (3,730m).
Today was a very long and emotional day but at the same time very memorable and exhilarating. Trekking distance – 7km for eight hours to Uhuru Camp and approximately 13km for eight hours to Millennium Camp.
Day 7 – From Millennium Camp to Mweka Gate we continued with our descent, trekking for about six hours to the main gate. I found this day to be rather tedious and monotonous and perhaps an anti-climax from the previous day.
Every night we slept in two-man tents in temperatures ranging from -5C to -8C. During the final day at Uhuru Peak the temperature dipped to almost -20C.
I challenge members of my community over 65 years to climb Kilimanjaro before 2018 and I shall donate £50 to their nominated charity.
So what is the next plan is store for Manhar? He boasted: “Well, I fancy walking along Hadrian’s Wall – and at least that’s a little closer to home!”
To donate to Mr Taylor’s Mission Kilimanjaro fundraising effort visit: http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/team/kilimanjaro-aug2016