The first thing Kenrick said when asked on Monday how it went was “It was hard this year. The Heat was extreme! Indeed, it was an extremely hot and humid weekend here in Belize, with averages in the 90s and even rising to 100F.
This year the team was made up of 12, with one guide, Benedicto. Their motto for the expedition was “We are one with Nature, life is an adventure we got to live it”. The group started out at 7.22am on Friday morning, a little later than usual as one of the new team members had a backpack that was overweight, when checked by the guide. They were all eager to make up time and walked the first part at a fast pace, knowing from experience that this was the easiest part and they wanted to get as far as they could before the heat intensified. Along the way, Lennox, our other Tropic employee tried to clear some branches blocking the path, with his machete, when a small stick hit his left knee and gashed it open and they had to perform some quick temporary first aid until they got to the camp.
The group arrived at the 12K mark on the Sittee River at around 9.20am, having made pretty good time. After, crossing the river, they all took an hour break to refuel. The heat was fierce and the lesser experienced among the group were exhausted. From this point onwards the terrain gets much harder, so it was decided that the more experienced, including our two intrepid employees Kenrick and Lennox, would forge on ahead, taking some of the weight from the kits of those less experienced.
Kenrick said, that the extra weight they were carrying and the intense heat and humidity made the trek, that much harder and the rainforest seemed denser than normal and somewhat unreal. They stopped at 17 kilometers where there is a helipad clearing, and decided to wait for the rest of the group. Here they all fell asleep for about 50 minutes but the others still had not shown, so they continued on as by now it was already 1.05pm. They arrived at 19K Base camp approx. 40 minutes later and began setting up the tents and preparing a quick noodle meal for the others. At around 4.10 only 6 of the remaining group arrived.
One of their group had felt faint from exhaustion and had to head back to Camp 12K to spend the night, with the guide Benedicto. Along the way the other six climbers had an encounter with a jaguar who crossed their paths. They were all exhilarated, excited and a little relieved when it went on its way.
Kenny discovered in the changing of backpacks, that his kit had been left behind at 16K so he and Lennox made a quick trek back to get it. By now it was getting dark and a little scary so they went as fast as they could. After showering in the river and eating they all fell asleep in their hammocks with an eight- foot Boa constrictor as their body guard, sleeping in a big hole next to them!
The following morning the guide and the other team member arrived early and the group started the climb up Heartbreak Hill, to reach the summit. The team miscalculated their water as the streams were pretty dry and at the second helipad, there was no water as usual. The group climbed for one hour and finally reached the summit at Midday. Kenny and Lennox proudly placed the Tropic flag there. The sun was unbearably hot so after about 20 minutes they started the climb back down, tired and incredibly thirsty. Kenny commented that the guide had extra water but with the heat it felt like they needed a gallon each!
Coming down was easy!! Kenny’s words. They reached camp after a couple of hours and that cold shower in the waterfall felt like the best of their lives.
The following day after a good night’s sleep and lots of story and adventure swapping, they started the trek back to Base Camp. The climbers reached at different times according to their experience and endurance level. But by 3.00 on Sunday evening everyone had arrived safely back at Base Camp. There was another jaguar encounter, this time a baby one, so the climber moved quickly on, fearing that the mother would be close by.
Climb to the Summit 2019, was a massive success despite the intensity of the heat and some of the challenges they had on the way. We would like to congratulate Kenny and Lennox on their incredible feat and wish them every success in their next adventure.