After Barranco Wall Day we got a few hours of sleep before being awoken in the dead of night. Actually it was 11:30pm but since we are on the side of the mountain, there was obviously no light, just the stars and moon. And it was –10 degrees. Fun times. After bundling up like I never have before, we took off at midnight for our 6 hour trek up to Uhuru Point- Mt. Kilimanjaro’s summit.
Headlamps lit and ready to go:
photo by Dave
This was by far the hardest hike we did all trip. Not only was it well below freezing and pitch black but the “path” was climbing on big boulders and walking on a very steep incline of loose gravel/dirt. It was difficult to get your footing and made the whole thing 10 times harder than if it would have been packed dirt or rock. We stopped every 90 minutes or so for water, shot blocks, and granola bars. Since it was below freezing normal water bottles and camel backs began to freeze. It was recommended that climbers bring a thermos so we would be able to have some non-frozen water at the top. Not many people did this but luckily I did. One of the few things I did right. The other thing I did right was renting the big green monster puffy coat. Best decision ever.
photo by Dave
My hands and feet quickly turned numb, my nose began to bleed but up, up, up went. Our guides would occasionally yell Hakuna Matata (translation: No worries) or Imara Kama Simba (translation: Strong like a Lion) at us and expect us to respond. The higher we got, the less anyone spoke. There was a line of headlamps from other hikes far ahead of us which told me we had a very long way to go. Climbing to Uhuru Point was the hardest physical activity I have ever done. I wanted to quit so many times. Inside my head I kept singing “Eye of the Tiger” over and over.
I’m big green in the photo below- 3rd in line
photo by Dave
My tentmate Vicki was getting in trouble for falling asleep while hiking but she insisted she wasn’t. Good thing the guides weren’t looking my way because I definitely was falling asleep, I was doing the sleepy head bob. Apparently I have sleepwalking talent- who knew!
It was pole, pole, pole (slowly, slowly, slowly) when the end was in sight. The sun started to rise just as we hit Stella Point- the second highest point on Mt. Kilimanjaro- 5685 meters or 18,651 feet. The sunset was gorgeous but honestly I really didn’t care. Trying to stay conscious and not throw up were my main goals. A few people in my group did end up getting sick and/or don’t remember being at the summit.
From Stella Point we still had another hour or so to Mt. Kilimanjaro’s summit of Uhuru Point. I was ready to give up but New Zealand Angela and I set off for Uhuru Point before I could really think about it.
Just when I thought I could go no further, there it was. The big green sign telling me that I made it. 19,340 feet! Yay! I should have been elated, filled with unimaginable joy at finally reaching the peak of Mt. Kilimanjaro. But I was freezing, miserable, combating a bloody nose- all on no sleep and very little food and water. Everyone ended up meeting Angela and I at the sign. Vicki and I began taking glamour shots. It is the puffy green coat and less than enthusiastic expression that makes these photos I think. I could have been mistaken for a boy up there I think.
Yay we all made it!
The view looking out:
If you think it is over after Uhuru Point, you are surely mistaken. You still have to go down the giant loose dirt and gravel steeply sloping mountain. It was like skiing in a few feet of loose dirt. I fell down 5 times. Graceful I am not.
Good thing I didn’t see this on the way up!
Hanna fell asleep on a rock and I got so hot in my big green coat once the sun came out.
photo by Chris
It took about 3 hours (or so?) to get back down to base camp where I took the best nap of my life.