The ascent of Mount Lico

The ascent of Mount Lico

“You OK to make the ascent tomorrow Tim?” Julian asks me over dinner.
“Yes, of course” I reply. Although this is tempered with a large dollop of trepidation.
Some people are coming down to base camp and they need someone to help up top, and of course while I’m there I can try catching some birds!! Try, being the operative word, as so far all the reports are, of very little bird life.

I’m back at base camp early from our trip to Mount Secone, because yesterday Richard had a nasty fall and we were worried he’d fractured his ribs. After a very careful, and I don’t doubt incredibly painful walk down the mountain, we drove back to base camp where the expedition Doctor, Roland checked him out. It turned out he had been very lucky and although there was some very painful torn muscles, the ribs were intact. This accident does however, have another significant impact. Richard now won’t be able to make it up Mt. Lico, and of course this was one of the main reasons for coming on this expedition. Poor chap is devastated.

It’s therefore not without a certain amount of guilt that I set out for the ascent the next day, leaving Richard at base camp. We’ve been told to pack light and luckily there are some tents left up there for us to use so we don’t have that added weight. Even so my backpack is probably about 15kg and although it feels fine as we set out I’m very concious it’s got to come all the way up with me. Another issue is the heat, as due to other factors we’re setting out at 13:00. Nice and warm!!!

The first bit of the ascent is a walk up to the base of the cliff. This in itself is really hard work as the base of the cliff is a 260 climb up a very steep hill through a forest. Add the weight and the heat and I’d hardly say I reach the start of the climb fighting fit and ready to go.

It then gets serious as the equipment is explained to us by Mike, one of the climbers. We’re using a technique called jumaring and it almost defies explanation. Basically you use both your hands and one foot in a strap and pull yourself up a rope. Not only is it akin to rubbing your tummy and patting your head but you have to do it up a cliff and for 125m! Oh and it’s in the 30s in the sun.

As I start I feel completely uncoordinated but after a while get into some sort of rhythm and start making progress up. Of course it’s hot and really hard work but the views are INCREDIBLE!! I’m wearing a go pro camera on my helmet so I’m looking forward to seeing the footage and will post it here when I do. Shortly before I get to the top I hear a buzzing like a swarm of angry bees. Worried I look around, only to see Julian’s drone hovering next to me. I give them a friendly wave. Hopefully I can post the drone footage here.

I get to the top and I’m met by Gabriela Bittencourt a Herpetologist from the Natural History Museum in London and Ara Monadjem from University of Swaziland. They’ve been up here a few days and are now heading back down. They briefly explain a few things, including warning me about the soilder ants. “What do you do if you see them?” I ask. “Run, just run!!!” she says laughing. I pause here at the top of the rope to cool down and to take in the incredible view. It’s hard to take in but I’ve climbed Mt. Lico, and I’m about to enter a forest that only a few people have ever been in before. Although I’m tired I also feel incredibly lucky to have had this opportunity. Once I’ve got my breath back, I shoulder my bag once more and head into the cool darkness of the forest of Mount Lico.

Ps. And those small mammals in the sherman traps at Secone? I’m afraid we don’t know yet as we had to leave early with Richard. But as soon as I know I’ll let you all know too.

6 Replies to “The ascent of Mount Lico”

  1. Oh Rich. So disappointing. So gutted for you. Hope you recover quickly.

  2. That’s really tough luck. We are gutted for you. Mum & Dad xx

  3. So sorry Rich!
    Hounsome- never mind birds – get right onto identifying that white monkey!

  4. Hi all. So sorry to hear that Rich. Hope you’ve got the whiskey/painkillers to hand, feel much better very quickly and can still enjoy the other amazing stuff. Tim, well done you, sounds like very hard work – but amazing. Hi to Julian, hope its all as fantastic as you dreamed! Love to all. D x

  5. Well done Tim! What an amazing trip up to the top you must have had!! Looking forward to hearing all about it!

  6. Hey Rich, What a completely amazing trip – tough luck about the ribs, hoping you can enjoy binoculars and the birds from a hammock for a few days – best wishes for a speedy recovery and less painful but truly wild experiences – Dan