Mount Cameroon

Climbing Mount Cameroon

Dedicated to Dr. Anghelescu (Med Sport Clinic), who helped me to walk again and to our friends Andreea Popa, Dumitru & Andu (remember Apuseni ‘95).

We start the Mount Cameroon ascent in Buea, the hub for guide and porter hiring, where we stock on supplies and food. We will follow the shortest, steepest way up, the Race Track. This is the path taken during the annual race to the top, that famously logged in a stupendous 4 hrs. record! The route up Mount Cameroon will take us through 4 distinct geo-climateric zones: tropical rain forest, savannah, alpine and finally steppe.

The 2 of us plus Delphine, Jacques, Edmond the guide and porters Mahindi, Jonas & Ibrahim start the climb at 10.30 in the morning.

We climb the first 500 m through plantain farms. When we finally entered the forest, the air is cooler and there are beautiful tropical flowers and birds.

We take our first break at 1500 m in the 100 yrs. old Hut 1. Our lunch: sardines and bread.

Hours later we are climbing the steepest part of Mount Cameroon: the path is covered in high savannah grasses and in petrified lava.

At New Hut (1800 m).

Stunning scenery on Mount Cameroon. Perfect clouds are tumbling down into the abyss.


Jacques & Delphine

A little after 6 p.m. we hit our target. We reach Hut 2 (2800 m, Mount Cameroon) where the cold wind blows us into the shack. We gather around a steaming pot of Indomie and spaghetti, then we cuddle in or sleeping bags and tent.

At 4.30 we have to wake up, eat our disgusting chocolate sandwich and blindly follow Edmond towards the summit of Mount Cameroon. Only me, Ana and Jacques chose to continue, and we are rewarded with the most amazing sunrise of our lives. The day slowly opens into an explosion of new colors and the birds offer an exclusive concert of delicate music.

Strange trees covered in moss appear from the ghostly layer of fog.

At Hut 3, at 3800 m above the sea level. Unfortunately Ana was forced to forfeit the ascent of Mount Cameroon right here, because of an acute headache.

Me and Jacques climb the final 300 m through a weirdly lunar landscape and breathing becomes more difficult with every step we take.

The Earth curvature is clearly visible from the summit!

The Race Track is a difficult choice for anyone willing to climb Mount Cameroon. We carried for days our wounds: solar burns, bunions, blisters, cuts and swollen nails. A longer – 3 or 4 days track may be a wiser option, but we are pround and happy to have conquered another dream.

Second Attempt To Fix the Tenere

The day after we had climbed Mount Cameroon we felt exhausted in every aspect. Black nails, bleeding toes, sun burns, herpes. As if the long horizontal journey we set out to complete was not enough, we had added to it a long vertical journey. We logged online to check out the status for our delivery, made some calls to DHL Douala and then the customs in the airport to finally clear confusion – as DHL had registered 2 different parcels with the same tracking no. and we were told ours had been delivered to Oslo, Norway. Our parcel was indeed in Douala so we had to organize our trip from Mile 11 to the airport as fast as possible. Luckily a Cameroonian lady stopped by, curious to know about the strangers who were camping in the parking and eager to have some company while waiting for the husband. It proved that the man was attending a meeting nearby and that they lived in Douala, so we asked if they could give us a lift. It was a lovely “hitchhiking” experience, followed by a taxi ride to the miserable place that is DHL customs office, a place of corruption and deceit. We left that place with a lot less money in our pockets (“taxes and duties”), but with our parcel in hand.

Inside the taxi, I torn the paperbox apart: it looked like this time they’d sent the right clutch! We were saved! Or were we?

We asked the driver to take us to the bus station, we got tickets for the next bus to Yaounde and spend the 2 hours to departure munching on brochettes, fried plantain and fruits.

In the background: us, shabby backpackers in Africa, but with a hope to become overlanders again.

Of course none of the clocks in the station or inside the buses didn’t work properly. We have the feeling of being outside any known time or space.

Two parcels: one shipped by FedEx + UPS from the UK, one shipped by DHL from Germany, 3 weeks, plenty of white hairs, a lot of cash and 3 small bags of Haribo bears = new clutch

Deja vu: the second attempt to fix the clutch; this time the place is empty of people, we are alone in a Moebius-like space, with all our hopes and dreams at stake once again

Once again we spread onto the cover all our belongings

A tasty breakfast to fuel our efforts

I manage to get my work done fairly quickly. The hundreds of kilometers of being towed on sloppy roads took a heavy toll on the brake pads, so I have to change those as well. It is hard to put into words how we felt when I turned the key in and the engine came back to life. When we knew we were free again to pursue our journey, our dream. We deeply thank our parents, who supported us, Harry, who almost single handily saved us, the Vidals, for offering us a hand and their lovely company during a difficult time of despair and uncertainties.

The authentic genius loci can only be found again in a delicious plate of beef suya and grilled plantain.

Sun is shining and we are enjoying our last Cameroonian meal, then we cross the border towards Gabon. The customs officers didn’t even realize our Laissez-Passer was long overdue. Is this a sign that our troubles are over?

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