7 day on Mount Kilimanjaro- Heaven and Hell

Trip Start Oct 01, 2004
Trip End Ongoing

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The Mountain

Flag of Tanzania  , Arusha,
Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Before I begin this story, I would like to thank the amazing people I meet and shared this hike with. Without our fearless leader " Freddie", our assistant guides, the strength/patience/compassion of all involved.....it would not have been possible. We pushed ourselves, suffered injuries, tried patience, got robbed and managed to summit together. Friends are made and lost on the mountain, and I want to thank those that helped me through this crazy adventure.

 Roangi Route - Day 1 of 7 (8200ft)

Our hike started at the base of the Mountain, beside the Kenyan border. We are literally walking up one end, and descending on the other side. Today, we started at the base and walked through the rainforest to 8200 ft. Within 20 mins, my body was noticing the effects of the Diamox and it took some getting use to. Besides going to the bathroom (bush) more than usual, it causes your heart to pound. After the first hour, we got use to the changes and really started to enjoy the hike.

The rainforest was stunning, and fortunately dry. We spotted several Colous Monkeys playing in the trees and had a stunning view of Kenya as we climbed.

We reached our base camp prior to dinner and set up camp. Tonight we sleep at 8200 ft, and enjoy the warm weather, as it will be our last warm night.

Day 2 of 7- 2nd Cave (11,200ft)

We departed at 830am and walked up, a consistent theme! Todays hike was more challenging, and I noticed a difference in my breathing through 10th ft. Even after drinking 4lts of water, I was still getting a slight headache. All things considered, it was amazing. We entered what's known as "Moonland". The landscape changed from a lush forest, to a "moon" like environment. The plants are begging to get smaller, and the wildlife is dwindling.

Day 3 of 7- Cave 2/Cave 3 (12,400)

Today was surprisingly easy for everyone, and our altitude change was small. We walked from the 2nd to the 3rd Cave and set up camp. 

Day 4 - Cave3 to Kibo (15,200ft)

We departed the 3rd Cave for Kibo in the morning and walked for 4 hrs to 15,200 ft. Everyone was dressed warm, and we all over dressed. The sun was warmer than expected. We arrived at camp by noon, and had a little nap. After lunch, we hiked further up the mountain to help our bodies acclimatize. Our entire camp was covered in fog as we walked with minimal visibility. The temperature was beginning to drop, and we anticipated a cold night. We had an early dinner, and hit the hay early. We are departing at 4am for the summit.

Day 5 - Summit (19,400 ft)

I'd say Heaven and Hell, how else can one describe the Summit of Kilimanjaro. We departed at 3:30 am, in the dark and cold. Within the first hour, Shannon began to lose feeling in her toes. We preformed several rescues missions on her toes around 16-17th ft. Thankfully it was a success, and we continues on as the sun began to warm us.

The walk was GREAT, until 18,000ft. Then it was slow, tedious and HELL. We all focused on putting one foot in front of the other. As we reached Gilman's Point, I thought we reached the summit. To my surprise, we had a few more hours to go!!! We continued, one foot in front of the other, until the summit was in sight. 

Hypoxic is exactly as they describe LOL, I was euphoric, and without a care in the world. As we approached the sign, we all started to cry. Yes ...I know...4 gals crying at the top of a mountain. 
It was overwhelming!! One year of training, 5 days of hiking and we were finally standing on the Roof of Africa.

Coming down was another thing....it was CRAZY!! We walked an "S" pattern up the steep slope, and went straight down. We basically went from Giliman's point, to base camp in 30 mins, in a down hill ski formation. My porter grabbed by arm, and took one giant step, and we were off. We literally descended, with poles, on a 45deg angle, sliding on the shale and lose rocks on the peak.
Together we managed to say up right, sharing the poles and maintaining our balance on the descent. 

After arriving at camp, I was so exhausted....I had a hard time getting changed. Over all, we spend over 4 hrs above 18th ft and our adventure was a 14hr day.

Day 6- Heading down  

I thought heading down would be easy....boy was I wrong. This was the first and only time I was sore on the hike. I managed to get up without issues, and coming down was painful. My knees and big toes were angry with my choice of activity this week. We were all in the same boat, and looking forward to having a shower. We spent our finally night at the base of the mountain (on the Coca cola route). We were back into the rainforest, where the birds were chirping, and the monkeys howling. So much intact...they have been know to steal your cloths from the line.

Day 7 - To the Gate 

Today was the shortest day of our hike, and somehow the longest. Due to the knee/toe situation, I was walking like a Nona. Fortunately,  I had some company. As we spotted the final Gate, it was almost as overwhelming as the summit.  

I'd recommend the Roangi Route to any traveller. It allows your to see both sides of the mountain, and avoid the "wet" weather on the ascent. Its was an amazing adventure.
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