Sunday, 8 March 2009

Kilimanjaro Trip Report: Day 5

day five: the summit

at midnight we started walking. the winds were so bad if you didn't place your foot down quick enough, you were pushed back. estimated temperature was minus fifteen. let's throw snow/sleet/hail into the mix, and we're starting to paint the picture.

we climb from 4600m to 5895m.

stopping is painful, but necessary. our water freezes. board shorts man vomits. i focus on feet. when i dare to look up, i instantly feel sick. stretching vertically into the distance snakes a sea of head torches, and i know what's ahead. lisa supplies ginger lollies, which curve my nausea.
at 7.15am, as the sun rises over just another day, we reach the summit. i am crying. i haven't known such exhaustion, ever, and i realise now why so many people don't make it here. those seven hours were incredibly difficult.
When the sun broke, I barely had energy to take photographs. It was so stunning, but I literally had nothing left. My batteries died, and I couldn't replace them. My guide Michael helped me, and such a simple thing, was so necessary. There's a picture below of Michael infront of the glacier. Without his help, I wouldn't have made it.

So, all that was left, was to get down. I thought the hard part was behind me, but I had no idea.

From 8am until 6pm, we climbed down. Through snow, ice, rocks. We'd been walking for over 18 hours, and now without anything left, we had to get down. My knees took a horrific turn for the worse, and finally they failed me. The last three hours were one of the most painful I've known. There were tears, and not of joy.

There was one moment, which I believed summarised the entire day. Upon descent - I came across a girl, sitting in the snow. She was literally frozen, sitting, in the snow. There were two guides which had come across her, and I asked them if she was okay. They said she was tired. I asked the girl if she wanted a sweet, something to give her energy, and she couldn't even respond. I took it out of my pocket and placed it into her hand, and her fingers flickered slightly with recognition, but she didn't have the strength even to lift it to her mouth. So i took the lolly and placed it into her mouth. She didn't even register, and the guides picked her up, and dragged her down the mountain.

That girl represented so much of how I felt. Just empty, without anything left to give, but knowing how much was ahead.

In conclusion: I'm glad I did it.

Would I do it again? Do you even need to ask??

Tough Factor: Off Scale


dad moore said...

I am lucky if I can walk around the house property let alone climb into rarified air that must take so much out of you. How are the knees now ?. Did I ask- would you do it again ? Bloody young fools

al said...

bloody young fools who have seen a glacier mind you! i think there are easier ways to see glaciers, mind you... knee is holding in there, my first run post climb was terribly painful, but i went for a run yesterday morning and they were only twinging with pain. am going to boost the protein and take things a little easier... and focus on walking around the house property ;)