Thursday, 19 August 2010

Kilimanjaro. Tanzania. June 2010. At The Top

Its 06.45 and I have been awake ages, waiting for the wash bowl to come. We have been woken with our hot water wash bowl and ‘knock-knock’ at 07.00 each day by our dedicated porters, the guys are great and you could not do this trip with out them.
We all seem to be in good spirits at breakfast. All ready for the challenges today will bring. At 09.00 the porters have packed up and its time to go. The cloud is very low and we are unable to see our goal, Mount Kilimanjaro.
Soon the vegetation disappears and we are walking through a desolate landscape called The Saddle, there are large rocks here. We reached the last water point after about 1 ½ hours walking. The porters filled up barrels from the very meagre stream by the sign post.
Then we set off again till lunch break. There are a lot of toilets along the route, of the long drop variety. I am lucky I can go behind a rock, but the girls have to use the facilities.
Finally we see Kibo Hut, its a very bleak place. 1 long dormitory, split into 5 rooms, with bunks and a long table, and yes it is COLD. The thermal underwear is retrieved from our backpacks and put on as soon as possible. Then its into the sleeping bags to try to get warm.
A simple supper of tuna spaghetti is served for dinner, its hot and its filling so does the job! The plan is that we will be woken at 23.00 and set off in the dark at 23.30. Felix has advised us he want us to walk very slowly.

At 23.00 we are up, and all the layers are put on. Thermal base layer, tracky bottoms, walking trousers, fleeces, and ski jacket. 2 pairs of socks are needed as are gloves and a hat. At 23.45 we go out into the dark, cold night and its snowing.
Sarah’s Altitude Sickness is back, she had a bad night vomiting, and is once again being sick as we wait to go.
We set off at a very slow, rhythmic pace, almost not walking. There is a line of twinkling head lamps ahead of us. We walk for 15 mins then stop for water, it is so slow and my feet are frozen. The path is steep.
By this point, is very ill, vomiting, weary, stumbling along but determined to go on. But eventually she has to descend, her porter Peter help her down. I am so sad for her, but very proud that she has got as far as she has.
At Houseman’s cave we stop and have a warm cup of tea, it is very welcome. Then again slowly up we go.We reached Gilman’s peak, the lowest point on the rim, just as the dawn broke, and not a moment to soon, as by this point you don’t think you can take another step in the dark. I was exhausted and starting to feel the altitude, but I had come this far and was determined to make it so it was upwards and onwards.
The walk around the rim to Uhuru is fairly level and it takes a good 2 hours there and back, but on I go....................................................................................
To the TOP.
Past amazing ice scenery, not to long at the summit thought as its a long way down.
The decent commences with a walk around the crater rim back to Gilmans Point, for the young with good knees, you can scree run down the scree slopes almost all the way to Kibo Hut, I walked!
I made it to the top of the mountain, but don’t remember much about it thanks to the altitude!
Again...just to prove I did it. The roof of Africa.
At Kibo Hut we had tea and biscuits and a short rest. Then we went back across The Saddle towards Mawenzi, the third of Kilimanjaros peaks. The views were great and we reached Horombo in two hours.
This meant that we had been on the go for over fourteen hours with just one hours rest at Kibo.
The next day it was a 7 hour walk from Horombo Hut to the Marangu Gate, passing the Mandara Huts as we went. The final stage was through the rain forest, and the guides offered to take us to look at the waterfalls.
At Marangu Gate we collected our certificates as we signed out, had lunch, then got in the mini bus to drive us back to the Springlands Hotel for dinner and a few beers.
Some call this route the 'coca cola' route, don't let the name fool you. It is hard work climbing this mountain and a lot of people don't make it. I did and I have seen what I wanted to. The ice cap on the top of Mount Kilimanjaro.