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Chimanimani Expeditions

1988 Chimanimani B Block Expedition

1988 Chimanimani B Block Expedition

The annual B Block expedition to the Eastern Highlands took place three weeks into the second term. B3 and B4 Maths sets went first and B1 and B2 followed a week later.  These excerpts from the boys projects were all taken from the second trip. The bare bones descriptions of such trips make for dry and uninteresting reading.  I hope that what follows will convey some of the blend of the "agony and the ecstasy" - though admittedly more of the former!
Richard Marriott

From the Diary kept by William Murinda : Day 1
We departed Peterhouse early in the morning around 4.45 a.m. The boys at the back of the bus made most of the noise when the sun came up. The rest had fallen asleep by then. We stopped for breakfast at the Christmas Pass Hotel. Soon, before we left the hotel the bus was found to have a puncture - good for most of us, who didn't want to go. We changed the wheel and stopped in Mutare to have it mended. When we set off towards Chimanimani the main talk was about Renamo bandits going to raid us, and pointing at some dirty gangs outside the bus, saying they were members of it. People got very quiet as we drew near to the mountains of our expeditions. On our arrival the other expedition looked, potty, dirty, filthy and very much reluctant to go back. They were all quiet and looked at us as strangers because we weren't allowed to talk to them at that moment. When we took our rucksacks down and put theirs up, all the conversations started. They told us all about the mountain's savage structures and said we were going to suffer. They made a lot of noise when they left, shouting'suffer' and we thought we had had it.

A Poem entitled "Chimanimani" by Craig Bolas
Mountains so high and strong,
Seem far, far away and long,
In the distance just a haze,
Down below it seems a maze,
Just a bivvy to sleep under,
Hopeless when in rain and thunder,
Up on Dragon's Tooth the sea,
Over Mozambique and far from me,
Without the noises of the streets,
Chimanimani seems asleep,
After walking all day long,
Far too tired to sing a song,
Now it's bath time in the river,
Everyone begins to shiver,
Walking over feeling good,
Thoughts abruptly turn to food,
Around Base Camp all is still,
And everyone seems so ill.

An extract from "The Chimanimani Experience" by Pratik Patel
As we approached the Chimanimani Mountains, I felt the dreary feeling of suffering in me. The bus stopped at National Parks Camp; we unloaded our belongings, and started to get ready for our monotonous week.
As the groups got ready to walk, they were shown their way by a master, and off they went. My group was shown the way we had to go, and so we started off. Our first climb was the worst of all, - Bailey's Folly. We climbed every bit of mountain, getting to the top, ridge after ridge, no water to take away our thirst. Finally, we took another route with Mr Marriott and slowly walked towards our base camp.

At 6.00 pm. we got there, all tired and feeling like dead rats. After having supper we hit our sleeping bags in the freezing weather. Next day we were given our week's programme, and so after breakfast at 9.00 a.m. we left the base camp. We walked for 30 minutes on good flat land, until we reached our camping site.
We put our tents and bivvys up for the night and set out to conquer the great mountain Ben Nevis. We were with Mr Katso. We walked along a piece of flat land until we reached the foot of the mountain. Then we began our climb as the conquerors. Soon we were on top of a ridge, then suddenly appeared another ridge, and after climbing that, we saw another; ridge after ridge, bundu-bashing all the way, we finally made it to the top after the last steep part. I sweated, groaned and complained as we walked up Ben Nevis. But Mr Katso was so ambitious and never worried. When we were on top, the feeling of glory and honour overcame us suddenly.

From another Diary: Day 3
Up at about 0600 hrs again. Bolas cooked the bacon and Lombard was in his usual state of disorganisation. Left and got to Southern Lakes by 0930 hrs, roughly, to find Colyer's group only just leaving. Maybe we were too organised. Spent an hour swimming and having a lunch of rusks at Southern Lakes. Group H and Driscoll who had been with us all along went up into the Saddle where we were supposed to turn off and catch a path to the start of Gullies. There we would find Mr Strawson who would take us to Msasas. Missed turn off and some three kilometres into Mozambique turned back after Brown, Van and Driscoll. The main ouens had had much heated arguments with much waving of maps, compasses and hands. Half way back to Southern Lakes, Murinda and Van took off. We found them later and spent the night at Southern Lakes. Everyone is now round supper. (Zombis bully beef and rice) and good friends. Shoulders are jolly sore so I think I shall in turn at 1945 hrs.

Sunrise in Chimanimani by A. Chingono
After about two hours of teeth-chartering sleep, my eyes widened and blinked open. Sleep was just impossible. It's only nine and I lie in my sleeping bag, even though absolutely sopping. I wanted to know the time but just moving a twitch sent water droplets from my permeable bivvy onto your charcoal covered bed. I shuddered as a blast of crisis frozen wind crept through the two entrances of the over-hanging roof. The chime of my watch told me the time. It was only twelve o'clock and the hours that had passed seemed like generations. Suddenly, close by me there was a splutter, then Gordon coughed "Hey Cret! Are you awake, 'cause I have had zut sleep!" I thought I would never see another day.

I lay there soundlessly. My mouth had frozen solid so that I hardly spoke. Shivering, I said to Trephi, "I am free-eeezing! I wish I was at school all snug in my warm, fluffy duvet". Harry replies, "Ouens, we have got to have lots of rusks 'cause Msasas is miles away. Chingie, please pass the matches". Later, there was a groan from Chingie, "Damm!, these matches are completely soaked, Can I borrow your lighter!" I slowly reached into my jacket pocket, fished it out and placed it out of my home made tent. Immediately, my warm fingers tingled and became numb. There was a scratching sound then a blazing roar as the ineffective gas cooker set to work so as to boil a mess tin of running water.

The beeping of watches soon told everyone it was time to rise up or rather get out of their dipping bivvies. Six o'clock had been reached. The sparkling sun slowly made it's way over the horizon of jagged rocks and its many splitting beams cascaded across the rough heart-breaking veld of the Chimanimani, like the great Bridal Veil Falls. The cold of the dark night had already been forgotten and the noise and chattering of boys echoed between the boulders of the Upper Plateau. The bellowing winds had now turned to calm drifts of warm, sweet smelling air. Later on, after a freezing cold bath, in the gushing and spraying waters of the Bundi river, there was the sound of spitting bacon, over flaming gas cookers. Now that we were wanting time to go slowly, it went like a bullet and before we knew it, the bellowing of Mr Strawson's voice rung in our ears, "O.K., get a move on! Time to leave camp". Half exhausted, half hungry and half happy we slumped on our back-destroying, heavy rucksacks and started heading northwards.

Further extract from the Diary of William Murinda: Day 4
In the morning Chingono was wet all over. Everyone else' s sleeping bag was wet. That night it was cold. Mr Strawson came to us and insisted that we should go to Msasas which was pointless because the following day we had to be at Base Camp. He took us to the start of Gullies and waited for Mr Marriott. We all departed after the lunch hour of 12 pm to Msasas. The groups had amounted to seven. It was quite a long walk. Our group walked about nine kilometres.
At Msasas our group made camp next to Mr Marriott and the rest over a hill on the other side. We had tea and then supper. Later at night, we had a long talk with Mr Marriott. We were talking about shooting stars which resulted in us lying on the ground and looking for them. We saw several and also a few satellites moving across the globe. What a nice thing to end a day on. We waited for a last shooting star so that we could all go to bed but it never turned up. We all gave up and went to bed at about 10 p.m.
Breakfast in the Chimanimani Mountains by Colin Bloodworth

The wind tore through our bivvys on the last night. My bivvy was on the verge of collapsing, and on top of that we had to get up early. At half past three, Hodges shouted out, "Fraser, what's the time!" Scallen mumbled back, "Half past three'. "Sorry, wake us up at half four, okay!" exclaimed Hodges.
We slept until half past five, when a yell came from Hodges' direction. "Frase man, I asked you to wake us up!" "Don't blame it on me! I tried, but I was too tired". After a few minutes everyone was up except Maringa who was lying in his sleeping bag. The bivvys started coming down and by six we started to make breakfast. After a long squabble, we persuaded Scallen to fetch the water from the river. None of us wanted to go as the water was a good five minutes walk and there was only one very slippery path down to it. Another distraction was having to take your socks off your hands and dip them in the freezing water, and then having to carry them back up to where we camped.

Once Fraser returned, we started to boil the water. This was a long process and by the time it had boiled we had our cups ready for it. There was still an excess of coffee, tea and milk powder, but our sugar was running short.
Then as a good start to the day, Maringa knocked the 'billy can' over and was sent to fetch water. It was quarter past six by the time we were all drinking coffee and the water was heating up for the Pro-Nutro. After the Pro-Nutro, we decided against cooking the week-old bacon as it was beginning to smell and we were not that hungry anyway. By twenty five past, the sun was crawling down the facing hill out of reach of our frozen bodies.
We stripped off our jerseys and tracksuits and by half past six, we were on our way to the top of Bailey's Folly, the National Parks camp, and back to school.

"Chims in Poetry" by Andre Benade
Day 1
Climbing, sweating, straining, grunting,
Base Camp's not in sight,
Slipping, shouting, cursing, yelling,
Far into the night.

Day 2|
An early start, we're on our way,
C'mon, hurry up you 'ballies',
Set up camp, put on the coffee,
We've reached the start of the gullies.

Day 3
Yet again we're up and climbing,
Struggling through the passes,
Carry on, a few more metres,
We've almost reached Msasas.

Day 4
Wearily, Wearily, we carry on walking,
Feeling a little uncouth
And all the way back again
A whole day wasted, at Dragon's Tooth.

Day 5
Hooray at last, we're Base Camp bound,
Walking and walking we are so brave,
A 'comfy' night we'll have at last,
We're sleeping tonight in Couloir Caves.

Day 6
We're here at Base Camp, back once more,
Our walk today's been brief,
Tomorrow we'll be heading home,
At last there's no more grief.

Day 7
The 'trek' begins, we think of school,
Of tuck shop and ice lollies,
There's the Baron, the race begins,
The race down Bailey's Folly.
Headed for Peterhouse once more,
We shout, and sing and dance,
It's really been great fun y'know,
And we'll go again if we get the chance.

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