Three adventurous Zululanders, along with seven intrepid supporters, have returned home after tackling Africa's highest peak, Mount Kilimanjaro, in north-eastern Tanzania to raise R1-million for Izulu Orphan Projects (IOP), an orphanage run by Chadd and Kate Bain. The group consisted of Chadd Bain, North Coast Round Table Chairman - Rob Etchells, Jenny Etchells, Steve Corbett, ex-Empangeni Round Table Chairman - Dennis Geach, Wayne Kruger, Gary Raath, Suna du Toit, Dee Boast and Daryn Brown.

Their quest - to conquer Africa's highest peak at 5895m.
The adventure, a North Coast Round Table initiative to set up a Trust to secure the education and livelihood of 300 orphans for five years, was generously sponsored by Powerspar, Build-It and Nissan. Kilimanjaro is the tallest free-standing mountain rise in the world, rising 4 600m from its base. Annually, approximately 15 000 people attempt to climb the mountain, with 40 percent successfully reaching the summit.

Chadd Bain tells us his story of the summit.

We head to Tanzania to conquer Mount Kilimanjaro. The route we will be doing is the Machame Route. They say it is the second most difficult after Umbwe. They call Machame the wishey route. I have heard that one percent of South Africans have done it. Our mission is to summit at Uhuru Peak at 5 895m.


Day 1 - Friday 2 November 2007, 2.43pm

We are at Durban International Airport. Everyone has checked in and I'm having a late lunch with my wife, Kate, while my son, Jedd, sleeps. Everything's ready and I enjoy a quick beer to calm my nerves and a pizza for my empty belly. We're off at last!"

Day 2 - Saturday, 4.33pm

Wake up after only four hours sleep, must be the nerves. We have departed from OR Tambo Airport in Johannesburg and right now we are somewhere above northern Mozambique. Today we expect to land at Dar es Salaam in Tanzania at 7.40pm. From there we will head off to Zanzibar and then Kilimanjaro International Airport. In the plane, I'm trying to patch a split shin. It's no big deal, but the split is exactly where my gator (canvas protector) will sit. Rob has passed out. Ben as well. Steve is full of it as usual, but it looks like Daryn will give him competition. Dennis, next to me, is the group's book worm.

Wayne and Gary joined us today. They are still a bit quiet, but that will soon pass. Dee and Suna, two of the females in our expedition, are taking a bit of flack from the boys, but it's only Day 2 so it's smiles all around. I wait in anticipation. I start to miss Kate and Jedd and the hard times haven't even started. I must say that Air Tanzania is great. We are drinking our first Kilimanjaro beer and we toast to a great week ahead and a day of travel. Catch up tomorrow...

Day 3 - Sunday, 9.03pm

We are at Machame camp. We started at Machame Gate at 1738m and ended at 3018m. My thoughts are just to enjoy the experience. The camp has hit the sack; porters are washing up and I can hear a few people on the mountain, but it's not busy. The walk today was steep and slow. Rob put his earphones in and sang and danced a bit. He was great with his wife, Jen, today. He helped, loved and spurred her on. Jen had a rough day. Right now, she is asleep. She has apparently puked a few times during today's walk. I heard Rob say earlier that he might have to get her off the mountain. She was clearly stressed for a while, until the Jagermeister came out around the campfire (no fire allowed, so we settled for a candle). For now, all is looking good and hopefully Jen will feel better tomorrow and be able to keep some food down. Suna and Dee both managed well through the day, although Dee did take a bit of strain. A different sort of strength is needed to get you through the day here, but like the pro she is, Dee adjusted her pace. In doing that she took great care of Jen. Suna is doing what she has to do and is setting a great example, but this is a workout. She is also a cyclist like Dee, so this is a challenge for everyone it seems. She is a great motivator. Dennis seems to be getting a bit bored at times, but only during certain moments. This is understandable as he is is a runner and is extremely fit. What a boykie he is! Steve doesn't seem to have much to say. He was a lot quieter until we camped. He paced himself well and is looking good.

Holy smoke! I am standing under the stars at 9.31pm and I see the sights of Moshi. The stars seem so close and I'm starting to get cold. It is almost time to hit the sack. Wayne is fit as well. He has hardly drawn a sweat and is in shorts and slops this evening. He is a healthy, strong vegetarian who looks like he is on his way to the beach. Gary has hardly worked up a sweat as well. Daryn, my roommate, is full of beans. He is a great guy! He certainly deserves a holiday and I think this is it. I'm doing good. I am in awe of how good God is. Father I pray for the souls of your people, especially my family, friends and all the orphans out there and I wish it could be good for everyone. Amen. It is bed time, although I don't feel like it. By the way our guides are Godfree, Ezesy and Isaiah.

Day 4 - Monday, 6.42pm

Well, we are up to 3756m at Shira camp. Did 11 kilometres today after departing at 8.30am. It started out sunny, but after lunch we had to put on our waterproofs for a while. Right now it is -0.8 degrees. It is getting cold and it's dark. Rob put his music on and conquered the day. We heard a Bob Marley song or two which was refreshing. Jen is much better and healthier compared to last night, but the altitude is getting tough for a few. The clouds have just disappeared and I have this amazing mountain in front of me. It is 6.56pm and the sun is setting on my right with the mountain on my left. Gary is also flying and looks strong on the climb. Wayne, the beach boy, is still wearing baggies. He put on longs for the first time tonight. It is now 1.8 degrees. It was Dennis's son, Travis' birthday today. What a pleasure for me, a new dad, to see the love for a son. Happy Birthday Trav. You may only see this month or understand it years later but we have been thinking of you mate. What a man Dennis is to have on your team! He is always calm and caring. Steve's been a machine - strong in his pace, and always a laugh. What a boykie and a hell of a snorer! Suna is a constant motivator and is full of beans. Dee did good and was strong out there. I had a huge knot develop today on my shoulder and after beating it for a while with a club I picked up, Dee put her elbow in it. What a case of pleasure and pain. Daryn, the man, is doing good. He has interesting stories that are informative and help to pass the time.

I'm doing good. I want to take this opportunity to say thank you to all our sponsors from me personally. You keep us working and, most of all ,you are the source of putting colourful ink into our rainbow. Without you, our country in a few years time will be a mess. With you, hopefully we can create democracy and unite and educate, and help the Zulu people take themselves out of poverty. Thank you and may God bless you all through the name of our saviour Jesus Christ. Out for now - good night.

Day 5 - Tuesday, 7.58pm

We departed Shira camp at 8.25am at 3 756m for Lava Tower at 4 560m. It was snowing at Lava Tower and was -3 degrees. From Lava Tower we descended to Baranco camp at 3 972m. It is all downhill, approximately six or seven kilometres. Depressing but amazingly beautiful. Depressing because it is a huge effort to get up, then it's all the way back down again. Tomorrow we will tackle Barranco Wall, zig-zagging 200m up the wall. It is quite hectic I believe. We do tomorrow and then sleep at Barafu camp at 4 633m. Today has been an emotional day for me. I miss my family a lot and although Kilimanjaro is a big, amazing mountain to us, in God's kingdom it is like a grain of maize in a 80kg bag.

I'm tired, so for today all I have to say is well done Jen. We arrived at Barranco camp at about 5.30pm after a long day. For all the Izulu Orphans, this is for you. At our 2008 orphan's Christmas party I will show you this trip. To my family, friends, wife and kids - I love and miss you. I pray for my fellow teammates, wishing them a good night's sleep and a safe journey for the rest of our expedition. May I sleep through the night. Amen and good night.

Day 6 - Wednesday, 6.58pm

The first thing to tackle this morning was Barranco Wall, which is literally 200m up a cliff face on a mountain goat path. I really enjoyed the two hours it took us. The day entailed climbing from 3 756m to 4 633m at Barafu camp. Barafu means ice in Swahili. The scenery was spectacular, but with lots of mist. I'm feeling good at this altitude. We departed Barranco at 8.20am and arrived at Barafu at 4.45pm.

As for the team, Jen did amazing today, but now at camp she is vomiting and not well. It has been three days of hell for her. Steve showed great determination, ploughing on like a workhorse. Dennis is on form. Quiet sometimes and loud at others, but showing no weakness at all. Wayne started the day in his waterproofs, but didn't enjoy them, so went back to his baggies. This is a walk in the park for the beach boy. It also seems to be plain sailing for Gary. Both Wayne and Gary have been getting headaches, but show no signs of slowing down. Rob looked like he had an easy day, singing along to The Doors, and shows no signs of backing down. Suna battled on the downhills, but that didn't stop her. She is on a pilgrimage to do business with God and her late son. She will sprinkle his ashes up on the summit and let him rest in peace with the Saviour. Dee battled up Barranco today with her short legs, but otherwise was a star, encouraging everyone and making sure we drank enough. My roomy, Daryn, also had an easy day. As for me, it's not about me but for all the orphan kids in KwaZulu-Natal. Hopefully through this, I can help you all, provided it's God's plan. At this stage, we have raised R1.4-million through this trip and the exposure isn't even out yet. I am hoping to boost that by taking up an SA rugby ball and congratulating Amabokke on the summit, thus creating huge exposure for IOP. Well it is 7.39pm and I must sleep.

Day 7 - Thursday, 7.16pm

Summit day. We started from Barafu camp at 4 633m to Stella Point at 5 685m, and then on to the summit at Uhuru Peak at 5 895m. It was a 1 295m climb. We started at about 12.20am and summitted at about 7.45am and then returned at 11.40am. It was a hell of a climb and when we got to about 5 000m, the altitude started getting unbearable. I needed to pray from camp to Stella Point.

I cannot wait to get off this mountain. Although the scenery is amazing, there is no oxygen to enjoy the surroundings. It is amazing, but it is harsh to breath, move or balance. And after all that, the descent was equally tough. At noon we had tea and biscuits and lunch was at 2pm. I'm now sick and didn't get anything into my stomach. It was too cold to want to drink anything and my bladder pipe iced, so I didn't bother. It was -15 degrees after the sun came up and -8.4 degrees at Uhuru Peak. Sun rise was incredible as we were above the clouds. It is hard to explain such beauty.

Out of 10 in the group, nine are left. Jen really pushed hard for three days, but decided not to summit. Rob, our team leader, said lucky we left in the dark so we couldn't see where we were going because it was so arduous. He said we would have bailed.

Rob was a stalwart, encouraging us all the way up. Wayne wore longs for a change, but didn't even use his climbing poles. He took a bit of a fall this afternoon; hurt his knee, but he will be OK. Gary is definitely number two when it comes to strength on the mountain. About Steve, what can I say? He's a hero and an inspiration to Zululand. He stuck to his pace and broke the mountain. Dennis, our runner athlete, has done Comrades, Mount-aux-Sources and many more tough marathons, but reckons today's battle beat them all. For Suna, this is her second time conquering Kilimanjaro. She is mad and I never want to come back here again unless it is with a helicopter and downhill bike. Dee's short legs did her proud. The last 200m before Stella Point she was finished. Godfree, our main guide, grabbed her arm and encouraged her up. She was in front today and did so good. Daryn had a tough day as well, but did the job a bit quieter, as there's no air to breath. As for me, I am finished! The summit was a bonding experience. We all shed a tear. Also it was great Rob asked Suna to pray before we left (good man).

Day 8 - Friday, 8.52am

Awoke and had breakfast and did eight kilometres down the mountain. Arrived back at the Keys Hotel and had a few cold ones. Went to the market in Moshi and then to a Austrian steak house for dinner. Most of us are feeling out of sorts, except beach boy Wayne. Got to bed around 1am with a 5am start tomorrow.

Day 9 - Saturday, 9am

Departed from the Keys Hotel at 5.30am. My body is still exhausted. As we left Kilimanjaro International Airport and flew through the clouds, there was the mountain as clear as can be. What a sight! The landscape over Tanzania is amazing. We head for Zanzibar to collect some more passengers. Next stop Dar es Salam, then it is about three hours to Johannesburg I think. I can't wait to see my family.

I'm back home and tired. What an experience! What a blessing! What an amazing mountain and what an amazing team! Rob, Jen, Steve, Dennis, Wayne, Gary, Suna, Dee and Daryn, I thank you all. Words cannot explain how grateful I am. Well done everyone and may God bless you all.

Your teammate Chadd.

Looking to the future, Chadd's next big adventure is to tackle the Kilimanjaro Adventure Challenge, a 246km mountain bike event over three days and two nights, to raise awareness of the HIV/Aids epidemic in Africa. Anyone wishing to take part in the Challenge can contact Chadd on 083 649 9990. Visit www.izuluorphanprojects.co.za for more info about the good work Chadd and Kate are doing.