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ICE’s Rebecca Harris joined the team, embracing the challenge to raise money for the Responsible Gambling Trust. Here is a diary of her expedition to the summit.



Day 1

Today is the first day of the adventure, kind of. I spent the morning packing and repacking my bags, checking my equipment lists to make sure that I hadn't forgotten anything, then unpacked and repacked one last time to make sure. I arrived at London Heathrow and meet with my group, most of whom are strangers. It’s a little weird to think that I'll be heading up Africa's largest mountain with them, but they all look like a great bunch of people. Just have to get through customs first.

Day 2
After nearly eight hours on the plane we land in Addis Ababa for our change-over to be confronted with Ethiopian cockroaches! They're not a pretty sight and I was glad to be getting on the plane to Kilimanjaro. It all seems very real at this point - there's only so much training and preparation you can do and the enormity of the task finally sinks in that night. We arrive in Kilimanjaro and take a further two-hour bus journey to Marangu to meet our guide. After a tiring day we have dinner and head straight to bed.

Day 3

Precious final shower in the morning and a full-breakfast. After final prep we all drive out to the start point and begin with a four-hour, 650m climb through the alpine rainforest. What a welcome. We have an excellent view of the Kenyan plains and everyone is in good spirits. It was amazing watching our porters, who run on ahead carrying the tents and food. We have all the latest hiking gear while they barely have proper shoes, but they are infinitely faster than us, never complain and don’t stop smiling. On arrival at camp, they’ve set up the tents, including the dining tent, which is a welcome sight.

Day 4
The first real day starts with a cup of tea and breakfast. Our cooks are the true heroes of the trip, and take a bow to raucous applause each meal-time. They're truly amazing and the food is wonderful, especially for these conditions. Today we trek for eight hours and climb a further 1000m in altitude while on the way to the Kikelewa Caves. The altitude change is already taking its toll, with some of the group starting to struggle with headaches and tired muscles, but everyone pushes on. Most of us are in bed by 8pm tonight, although Robbie Savage is enjoying a captive audience with his football talk.

Day 5
Today we set off on a short but steep climb up the grassy slopes and the views just get better and better. Our walk to Mawenzi Tarn takes seven hours and is situated a further 600m higher up. By this point most people are showing symptoms of the altitude – headaches, dizziness and tiredness. Bed time gets earlier and dinner conversation doesn’t stray far from who has had the fewest hours sleep, tips on how to stay warm in your sleeping bag and who snores the loudest. By now the air is quite thin so putting on your coat and walking at a ‘normal’ pace leaves you short of breath. A very strange feeling!

Day 6
It’s a beautiful clear morning, perfect for our well-needed rest day. We did have to get up and out for an acclimatisation walk though, which was hit by rain and wind which, despite our best efforts, dampened everyone’s spirits. We went up some steep slopes and learnt how to run back down the scree, which I’m told is the most efficient and painless way to descend the slope. We spend the rest of the afternoon at camp, sleeping, eating and playing cards; not very adventurous but everyone is tired and most have headaches. All the talk turns to tomorrow evening – summit night.

Day 7
Today we cross the most open part of the trek to our final campsite before summit. It took five hours and just walking towards the peak all day is a little frightening as it’s getting very big! We have lunch followed by an afternoon nap until dinner. Our summit approach begins at 11pm tonight. Everyone is too full of excitement and trepidation to sleep; no one knows what to expect.

Day 8
We head out after some porridge, toast and biscuits – pretty much whatever we can stomach. Even getting dressed for this climb is an ordeal – I'm wearing all the six pairs of trousers I brought and eight layers on the top, so moving, and certainly putting on a rucksack, seem like monumental tasks. Walking through the night is a particular kind of torture – there is no concept of time at this point – just mindless zigzagging, following your head torch and the footsteps of the person in front of you. The final hour to the peak is the most picturesque of the trip as the sun is rising. It’s a clear day and you can see for miles. It is, however, difficult to appreciate the views when the wind is so strong and at minus 20C, it’s almost too cold to take your gloves off to take a photo!  We didn’t stay more than ten minutes at the top due to the conditions, but the feeling is euphoric, such a great achievement and I'm so proud to have finished. A quick photo in front of the infamous green sign is all that we could manage before heading down to the oxygen-rich air we now need.

Day 9
The early start is easy today since we know it is downhill all the way from here. After breakfast our support staff sing us the Kilimanjaro song and a few tears are shed. We start our descent, which takes about six hours and leads us through a lot of beautiful forest scenery. Thankfully, a cold beer is waiting for us at the end. Tomorrow we relax some more before heading home, exhausted but exhilarated.

Rebecca would like to thank ICE Totally Gaming, ACE Publishing Ltd, Gambling Compliance, Gambling Insider, InterGaming, iNTERGAMINGi, Casino Life, Bingo Life, Gaming Intelligence and Scott & Jones for their support. If you would like to make a donation to the Responsible Gambling Trust, go to mydonate.bt.com/fundraisers/rebeccaclimbskili. For any further information, please go to www.icetotallygaming.com