Kilimanjaro Summit Night
Trip Start Sep 12, 2013
19Trip End Oct 06, 2013
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Start Point - School Hut 4722m
First Summit at Gillmans Point 5708m is 5.4km
then on to the true summit another 2km to Uhuru Peak 5895m
So the first few hours actually went quite quick, in the video blog below I say we have been going for an hour but it was actually 3 hours after checking my watch. The weather was ok little wind we just wore our 4 layers of thermals and tops and then two fleeces for that part then we put on our water/windproof layer and our super warm hats as the night went on.
The walk was a mix of not too steep and some flat parts at first almost bearable how that was to change
At some point we began walking up zip zag path that was really steep, you zone out of stuff and your mind wanders but you are just looking at the feet in front of you "pole pole" as the guides say "slowly slowly". We stopped for a rest and once again I needed the loo - this is a complete nightmare in the freezing cold and trying to sort out all your layers of clothes after just takes all the breath you have its ridiculous. I looked up the zig zag path and my head just kept tilting back....it was never ending steep terrain just flashes of other peoples head torches what seemed like way up in the sky it was so dark - the realisation of this next part of the climb was overwhelming. You just try no to thing about the top just to keep putting one foot in front of another if you look up the top just never seems any closer. Our hydration packs and straws had frozen now so getting water was impossible, we had a small bottle so sipped on that, the guides always say drink drink to help with altitude.
The next few hours are a bit of a daze, its almost like your drunk or hallucinating your eyes play tricks on you in the darkness, perhaps is tiredness who knows
Gillmans point was in sight some metal shiny thing you could see in the rock was the top, the zig zag's now were giant steps up rocks but by now one of the guide's, Harold, had me by the hand pulling me up each one. I was exhausted my legs didn't want to go I was happy to sit and just give up, I had said to Marc earlier, don't let me give up but there and then I didn't care. People were throwing up around me, all 26 of us were still together as a group, Marc was right behind me doing amazing it was now light and slowly but surely goodness knows how I got to Gillmans point where I sat in a complete daze (see pic its hilarious).
From here its another hour or so to Uhuru Peak, where the sign is and the true summit, although much flatter I thought to hell with it its only a sign and a photo I don't care
The glaciers and the crater up the top are just out of this world, its such a shame that in a few years they might no longer be there, Harold tells me when he was a young porter many years ago how much bigger they were then. Who knows how long they will remain there.
Some hour n half I think maybe more after yet another flaming toilet stop amazingly there it was the sign, the true summit we had done it. I have no idea what time it was now maybe 10am, not sure, but there were all 26 of us deifying the odds of a 1 in 5 failure standing at the summit it was totally overwhelming, tears were shed and everyone was so happy. Marc had done amazing he is so head strong and determined and literally behind me all the way, I'm so proud of him :-))
We all took our pictures and then just as the group photo one was taking one of our camera guys passed out, he was given oxygen and took down the mountain as quickly as possible and he recovered fine
So when you climb a mountain all you think about reaching the summit .............no-one talks about the going down. We had to go back down the way we came and wow it was tough, we had now been awake around 28 hrs, we last ate some porridge and toast some 13 hours or so ago we were weak, exhausted and so tired with 5.8km to get down it doesn't sound like much but the downhill on your legs is hell. I was better going down I think I got my second wind but for Marc he had focused so much on the top the going down wasn't for him. He just sat at one point and said I will sleep here for a few hours bless him, he was exhausted, for him this was way worse that the going up. There is loose scree that you can dig into and the gravel slides away under you meaning you can gain speed quick and the soft dirt covers distance pretty well but its exhausting.
We were one of the last down it took us till around 1pm that day I think maybe later to get back to camp. The pain didn't stop there when we realised we had to walk 7 miles to the next camp that afternoon we just sat on the ground outside the mess tent in a daze wondering where we can raise any more energy for it. We had a few potatoes and veggies and some water, we had no appetite....the joys of altitude its very rare to see Marc and I not hungry!!
The sooner we left the sooner we could be in bed, most of the walk was flat so we just picked ourselves up and set off, no idea how we managed it but somehow after 3-4 hours more of pain we arrived at camp, scoffed dinner and slept like babies since we were now back down at 3900m.
What an unforgettable experience shared with a superb bunch of people all for a great cause.