Climbing Mt. Cameroon
Trip Start Mar 11, 2009
55Trip End Jan 05, 2010
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Pre-climb - Bought the food we would need for our meals on the trek, with another guide Samuel helping us in the market which is right beside the office. Had an early night for what would be a tough climb the next day
Day One - Arrived at the Mt CEO office early in the morning to assign our bags for porters and to meet our guide Charles. There was a small problem with a couple of the porters not turning up so we went via taxi to the start point. The first couple of hours walking through the rainforest towards Hut One at an altitude of 1875m was an easy introduction into the climb. We waited here for the porters to catch us up, only 2 as the other 3 were not all gathered at the office.
Crossing from the forest into the Savannah Zone of a steep and rocky gradient covered with grass, which is completely void of tall trees. This is where the climb gets tough as climbing up to Hut Two requires a very steep incline which would take around 5 to 6 hours. Before beginning this tough climb Charles informed us of a tradition that takes place whenever someone climbs the mountain for the first time. He and the 2 porters sang a song in their local dialect with a little dance, which we all took part in, to appease the god of the mountain so as no eruption to occur. From this part of the climb it would've given some amazing views of the surrounding area, but we were climbing in the rainy season so couldn't see anything through the clouds
We finally arrived at Hut Two, which at an altitude of 2860m would be where we spend the night. The climb was as challenging as we were told in the office the day before. It was interesting to see one of the porters with probably the heaviest load walk off the path and up the incline like a mountain goat. We had to wait a couple of hours for the other 3 porters to appear with the rest of our stuff, it was beginning to get quite cold at this altitude. The temperature at night here was between 5oC to 9oC. The views, once the cloud disappeared, were impressive at night. I could by the lights of each place Douala, Limbe and Buea. The hut is basic and we slept on a raised platform with the porters underneath us on a straw floor.
Day Two - Disaster strikes for me, at some point in the early hours of the morning I wake up and proceed to throw up last night's meal...not good on the day of the summit attempt. I start to get worse after waking up so I pop an imodium tablet and pray it works. Charles informs us that the trek to the top should take 4 hours (take note that when races are held to the summit and back down the record is 4hr 30mins) and the full day shall take around 11 hours
The push for the summit would be without the porters as they would be meeting us on the Mann Spring Track for our lunch stop. Luckily for me the strong breeze on the way up was mainly on my back. The landscape is of black fragments of sandy nature. The vegetation is grassy, tree-free with patches of 2 cm greenish plants. I eventually reached the summit at 4095m in just under 5 hours and it was a struggle all the way, no ill effects from the altitude though. We took a group photo and proceeded down the mountain.
The trek down was initially scree for around 1 hour before we stopped for lunch where the porters were. After a brief lunch stop we would spend the next couple of hours walking across the old lava flows, which are brutal for the feet and not exactly easy to walk across
The hut is made of straw with plastic sheets for waterproofing and the door was an old piece of iron. The hut is at an altitude of around 2000m.
Day Three - Things are looking up for me health wise, just 6 more hours of walking to endure before the finish line. Crossing through the forest where the hut is we come out into the savannah and cross 100m of the recent lava flow. Couple of hours pass before we enter the rainforest and begin the last stage of the walk. This part is very tricky due to slippery roots and steep slopes...my bad luck strikes again and I twist my knee leaving me with several hours of walking in pain.
Finally reach the town of Bokwango signally the end of the trek. We are all elated to have reached the summit and to have finished: Phil has been waiting 25 years to climb Mt Cameroon, Tamlyn and I are just glad that we can stop walking
We estimated that we must've walked around 50km over the 3 days as we had actually walked for about 25 hours although some of that was over some rough terrain. I would recommend that anyone wanting to climb this mountain should book through Mt CEO for a hassle free experience...except the walking of course.