When Tobias Halthur got married, he didn’t consider himself much of a mountaineer. Sure, he was pretty fit. But scaling peaks thousands of meters high, where the air is so thin even seasoned climbers get dizzy? Surely that was an activity best left to the pros.
But for some of us, the call of adventure is impossible to silence. An opportunity came for Tobias to go to Tanzania on an organized expedition to the top of Mount Kilimanjaro. Although the trip came right after his wedding, Tobias just couldn’t shake the image of himself standing atop Africa’s highest peak, the entire continent below him. He spoke to his wife, who agreed to meet him in Tanzania after the hike. It was time to get packing.
Just days after his wedding, Tobias would leave everything behind except for his best man and his Traska watch. Both had been with him at the wedding. And both would be accompanying him to the top of Kilimanjaro.
“I always have it with me”
Mt Kilimanjaro stands 5895 meters tall. At that height, the air is so thin that even walking a few short steps can make your head spin. Altitude sickness can strike out of nowhere. For that reason, it’s essential to take things slowly and let your body adjust. Still, even with the best preparation, as many as 50% of hikers are forced to abandon the ascent.
The most scenic way to scale the mountain is to take the Machame route. Your journey begins in a rainforest. The air is heavy with moisture, and around you you hear the calls of exotic birds mingling with the rhythmic thump of your boots on the ground and the heavy breathing of your fellow hikers.
At first, the scenery makes everything worthwhile. The ache in your legs. The shortness of breath. Sometimes, you feel like you’ve been hiking for hours. But you look at your watch and mere minutes have passed.
But three days in, Tobias didn’t think he was going to make it.
He was dizzy. Lack of oxygen had drained his body of all energy. He couldn’t keep food down. His head was throbbing. All he wanted to do was lay down and sleep. Fearing that he was coming down with a severe case of altitude sickness, a potentially fatal condition, he spoke to the guide. It was a close call, but they decided that Tobias could push on. Maybe, just maybe, his body would adjust, and he’d pull through.
The other hikers seemed to drift further and further ahead. Every breath came harder and harder, the thin air failing to fill his lungs. But then… something seemed to change.
Tobias looked down at his watch. He thought of his wedding, and his wife who would be coming to meet him after the climb. He paused, and took in the breathtaking scenery around him. His resolve strengthened. Suddenly, almost miraculously, his energy returned. Soon after, he caught up with the others.
They were now on track for the summit, but first they’d have to conquer the Barranco Wall.
A 257 meter high wall stands in your way.
On the morning of the fourth day, you’re faced with perhaps the biggest obstacle of your adventure so far; the infamous Barranco Wall. It stands 257 meters high, and in some places is almost vertical. This isn’t hiking any more. This is climbing.
The dark and hard stone is rough on your hands. You’re careful not to fall for fear of a graze or worse. There’s sparse vegetation to be seen. You and your fellow hikers take it slowly. Some are suffering worse than others from the effects of the altitude. The early morning light is soft on your skin but blinding in the thin air.
Fueled by excitement and finding enjoyment in the struggle, they conquered the wall.
You tackle the summit at night.
At 5PM on the fifth day you join the others for dinner.
At 6PM, you enter your tent. Exhausted by five days of constant activity, sleep comes easily.
At 9.30PM, you awaken, strap on your boots, and join the others.
At 11PM, the final climb begins.
The thin mountain air, combined with a total lack of light pollution, means the stars are unlike anything most of us have ever seen. Beneath a symphony of constellations, you march for 8 weary yet exhilarating hours. Drawing each breath at this altitude is a struggle. To time every step, Tobias would say the names of his children over and over again in his head, like a mantra. Nea, Lin, Nea, Lin...
All the hikers were struggling, but they were determined. High above the African continent, knowing that the summit is up ahead, all you can do is put one foot in front of another and just keep on moving.
Finally, you stand on Stella Point, at the edge of the volcano’s crater. You slowly circle the edge, and the sun rises alongside you.
The sand on the mountain glows red in the brilliant sunlight. Exhausted yet euphoric, you walk the final hour to the summit. There, almost 6000 meters above sea level, you have reached the highest point in Africa.
Keeping time in the deep.
Tobias and his wife wandered arm and arm through the narrow alleys of Stone Town in Zanzibar City, on the small island of Unguja, just off the coast of Tanzania. Tobias’s legs were still aching from his recent hike, but with his wife by his side, he was relaxed and happy. Their honeymoon had begun, but the adventure was far from over.
Zanzibar is known as one of the world’s top dive locations. The collection of islands contains 30 well known dive spots, thriving coral reefs, and over 500 species of vibrant marine life. Amateurs and professionals flock in from around the world, hoping for a glimpse of dolphins, manta rays, sea turtles, sea horses and even the awe inspiring 10 meter long whale shark.
When Tobias leapt from the stern of the dive boat anchored above the Mbwangawa reef formation, the cold water contrasted sharply with the warm air. He could hear nothing but his own steady breathing, bubbles forming and rising to the surface as he drifted steadily down. It gets darker the deeper you go, the light struggling to penetrate the water.
12 meters down along the Mbwangawa slope is a spot the locals call Turtle House. As many as a dozen green sea turtles have been spotted resting on coral, playing and passing the time here. Look around, you can see large patches of coral positively humming with vibrant marine life. Energetic schools of fish flash by, bumping gently into you.
As you sink steadily down, the first thing you notice is a feeling of weightlessness. Supported by water and your wetsuit, it’s as if you are flying. Soon, breathing through the regulator starts to feel natural. You tune in to the silence. At 18 meters below sea level, even the ticking of your watch is inaudible in the utter quiet of the deep.
From 5895 meters above the ocean to 18 meters below its surface, the Traska watch that Tobias wore to his wedding was with him at every step of his epic adventure.
A Traska watch is certified to be water resistant up to 100 meters below sea level. Tobias’ choice was the popular Mint dial with a stainless bezel insert. It was elegant enough to get married in, sturdy enough to scale Africa’s highest peak, and robust enough to easily endure an 18 meter dive. For your next adventure, choose Traska for a watch that is proven to thrive in any environment.