Video: Omani does Sultanate proud, scales Kilimanjaro in one day

Energy Tuesday 17/July/2018 21:05 PM
By: Times News Service

Muscat: Hamad Al Harthy found his passion for climbing 15 years ago, and on July 5, 2018, he made Oman proud by scaling Africa’s highest peak, Kilimanjaro, in just one day.
“I have been hiking and participating in technical climbing for about 15 years now. I have climbed various mountains around the world, including mountains in Argentina, Uganda, Indonesia, Switzerland and Rwanda, but my biggest achievement has been to climb Kilimanjaro in Tanzania in one day.
“I landed in Tanzania on June 17, right after Eid Al Fitr, and started to prepare my body for the acclimatisation process by scaling another mountain in the country, Mt. Meru, at 4,655 metres.
At Kilimanjaro, I took the Umbwe route and started the journey at 4:16 am and ended at 11:15 that night, completing it in 19 hours, including all the delays and hurdles I faced in between.
“The reason for the passion towards climbing goes back to my childhood, as my school used to be in the mountains. So, every morning I had to climb a mountain to get to school,” said Al Harhty.
He claims to be not just the first Omani, but the first Arab national, to climb to the summit in one day, which is 5,895 metres above sea level.
First attempt
“Somewhere in early 2000 I became interested into hiking, and in 2007 I made my first attempt to climb Kilimanjaro, which I completed in seven days. From then onwards, there was no stopping and I climbed many mountains, including another one of the highest peaks in Africa, Rwenzori, often called ‘Mountain of Moon’.
“However, for the recent climb I had been training extremely hard since October 2017. I had a lot of goals set in my mind; to start with – train for trail running and reduce my weight being the priorities. It was a combination of so many things, although I have been a long-distance runner and represented Oman at the Asian Games in 1982, but this was an entirely different experience.
“In terms of practice, I would go to Jabal Akhdar twice a week and, at times, would run and climb for more than 50 km just to be ready for Kilimanjaro. Besides that, I was also practicing on a day to day basis in Bausher, and often went to Jabal Shams, as well,” he said.
Al Harthy, who is the Head of Branch Infrastructure at Bank Muscat, said he would train at Jabal Akhdar after office hours during the week.
Talking about Kilimanjaro, the achievement he is most proud of, Al Harthy said he had to overcome a series of challenges before reaching the highest point at the peak.
“I was planning to reach the top in less than 18 hours, but unfortunately had a number of obstacles, such as heavy rainfall and thick layer of glacier covering almost five km of the summit. Normally, at Kilimanjaro, you see the glacier close to the summit, but this time it was mostly covered in it.
“I had to wear crampons to help me navigate on thick ice, and all this automatically reduced the speed. The only time I didn’t feel the rain was when I went above the clouds – it never stopped raining below the clouds.
Reaching peak in daylight
“Moreover, there were some delays with the people assisting me, as they couldn’t cope. There was also an issue with the permit, as the ranger responsible for the park did not allow the pacing team to leave one day early. All these things, in the end, delayed my plan, which was to reach the peak in daylight,” he added.
Despite all the difficulties Al Harthy faced during his journey, his main aim was to set an example for others to follow and make Oman proud.
“When we were close to the summit, the guide told me to abandon the attempt and go back and start another day. But I told him that I have been preparing for this day for the last ten months. I was there to make my country proud and set an example for others to follow, and prove that if you believe in something then there is no stopping,” he said.