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Peterhouse Girls

Peterhouse Girls B Block Taking on Chimanimani

Seventy girls, 7 instructors and 6 staff quickly and efficiently packed on the afternoon of Saturday 10th September in anticipation of the early Sunday morning departure.

The 2400m high cliffs of the Chimanimani Mountains greeted the girls upon their arrival at Charleswood Farm. Soon the call of “Packs on” was heard and the girls took off on their 6km hike to the Chimanimani National Parks Basecamp for the first night.

‘Rising’ was at 5.20 on Monday morning and the group of girls volunteering the longer walk had substantially (and impressively) grown from 15 to 24 after a good night’s rest.

There were a few complaints during the first two hour climb through “Banana Groves”, but diving off the waterfall at Paradise Pools for a lunch break soon lifted the spirits. We had a very scenic climb to “High Valley”, where the night was spent. After a quick early breakfast all the girls ascended Mount Kwesa, the second highest mountain in Zimbabwe at 2436m. After an hour of photos and rest on the summit the return journey to “High Valley”, they met the rest of the expedition which were on their way to climb Mt Kwesa/Binga. Our Guide, Duggie decided to use the scenic route staying at high altitudes round the base of Mawenje/ Turret Towers to the Bundi River Plains where we camped the night in anticipation of Climbing Mt Pesa the following morning.

     

Breaking camp and filling water bottles after lunch we were fooled into thinking that the 6km indicated on the GPS to basecamp via Baileys Folly would take an hour or so. We soon found out what the word “Folly” meant - four hours descending a track which would have intimidated most mountain goats!

A hearty welcome by the rest of the expedition group upon our return to camp, a cold shower and a few glasses of “Rehydrate,” made them forget their sore feet and cherish the feeling of accomplishment.

The group of girls opting for the 45km hike rather than the 57 km expedition walked North on the first morning to cross the western cliffs of the Chimanimani’s via the New Eastern Dunker River pass. The two very steep climbs from the water tank past Tessa’s pool took a bit longer than expected since frequent rest stops were sorely needed. Finally, the camp on the Bundi River plain was reached after lunch at the waterfall near Red Wall Cave. The panorama of Mt Pesa, Mt Dombi, Mt Mawenje and Mt Kwesa - all over 2300m high - rose from the plain around them. The crystal clear pools of the Bundi River was soon filled with the laughter of the girls swimming in the cold, clear pools.

     

All set out early the next morning for Mt Kwesa and left their packs on the route to Paradise Pools, their overnight destination, after conquering Mt Kwesa. Time caught up with some of the girls and they had to turn around before they reached the summit but the constant climbing at high altitude gave them a great sense of achievement even if Mt Kwesa was still on their To Do List.

The long winding hike through, “Banana Groves”, with the steepest bit at the end, gave them a final reminder that distance in kilometers is a very relative term when you are in the Chimanimani Mountains.

I must thank the instructors and staff, Mazvi Phiri, Jo-anne Schultz, Fadzai Kamba, Kudzai Nyambeza and Tsitsi Shambare who gave up their time to care for the girls. The girls were very strong and did everything the boys groups did in the same time and at the same speed.

This was my first time leading a girls only expedition and I was incredibly impressed with their grit and willpower. I did learn, though, that our PHG staff know a few things about leading girls that I do not; for example, every morning a long queue of girls would come to Mrs Schultz for strapping with plaster and zinc tape. On my question whether sticking plaster and tape all over their legs actually had any medical benefit, Jo-anne explained, “ Of course not, but it gets them to our next destination.” I now know to pack extra plaster and tape in the First Aid bags, the brighter the colour, the more therapeutic.

     

I must also thank the kitchen staff from PHB and PHG under the leadership Simon Sithole and Upenyu Magumise for scrambling around on short notice to source all our foodstuffs. Also, the Transport Department under Andy Schultz for getting us safely there and back; Andrew Bailey from stores sourcing our equipment and Ms Bronwynne Hall in charge of Outdoor Education at PHG and Mrs Nyaradzo Chinodyaruzwa for all her logistical work, ensuring the girls were always on time and always where they should be.

Francois de Kock
Deputy Head Peterhouse Boys

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