Friday, March 02, 2007

It Is A Very Big Mountain

We're down, we're alive and Kilimanjaro is conquered.
5 of the Kili 6 summited in the early morning of Thursday 1st March. Gill unfortunately didn't quite make it, heading back to camp after 3 gruelling hours of vertical climb from 4,500m and physically unable to face the remaining 4 hours still needed to reach Kili's summit at 5,895m. Her condition was probably largely as a result of sleep deprivation, Andy having exited their tent about 7 times a night for a pee on the previous 5 nights. Sorry, Mrs year perhaps?
Summit night was extraordinary. Woken up at 11 pm, with little or no sleep, after a tough 8 hour hike that day, we headed out under a nearly full moon and a cloudless sky at just after midnight and with nothing more inside us than tea, biscuits and trepidation. The next 8 hours were THE toughest thing I have experienced, either physically or mentally. We all suffered serious problems at different stages but this is such an extreme challenge that you can't attack that altitude in so few days without expecting some symptoms.
To see the sun rise over Africa behind our heads as we trudged up the final sections was amazing. And as we hit Stella Point, at about 5,740 metres the first point on the crater rim summit, the morning was perfect. Physically and emotionally drained, Jon and I hauled ourselves to Uhuru Peak at 5,895 with Meringi our guide, boots and poles squeaking on the ice under fresh snowfalls, with the subtle colours of spectacular glaciers shining in the brightness of the sun.
Unfortunately my camera batteries had frozen at Uhuru, but my body and mind have recorded the experience in full technicolour detail. The descent was almost more brutal, 1,300m of dusty scree and craggy rocks in unsheltered blazing 30 degree heat. Quick rest and then a further descent of 3 hours to Mweka camp at 3,100 metres....all in one simply amazing day. Never again.
We're in Moshi now after a great lunch with our guides and a few Kilimanjaro beers. The first shower at the Mountain Inn earlier was HEAVEN.
Celebratory dinner tonight with a few more Kili beers and back to the real world tomorrow. It will never be the same again.
Andy & The Kili 6


Blogger Bruce said...

Congratulations to all of you on a tremendous achievement. You should all feel very proud of yourselves.

8:26 AM  

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