At 3:00am, I heard numerous porters scrambling around and I wondered what was going on. Apparently there were a few groups that turned around early as they didn’t make it. Not surprising as so many of them take very little time to acclimatize and ascend to the summit.
Finally at 4:00am Ema woke us up and at 4:30am we met in the dining tent for coffee, tea and cookies before our summit attempt. At 5:00am promptly 8 of us started up the slope, John, John, Winston, Sian, Jim, me, Amy (our only female porter) and two other porters. I thought it wonderful that they too wanted to push themselves to the summit.
Thankfully the early morning was pleasant as we wound our way up to Kosovo Point where we hiked up to yesterday. We were hiking slowly, oh so slowly and before long the sun rose over the horizon with Mawenzi Peak in the foreground. It was a beautiful sight!
Our progress was slow but sure with rest stops every hour. The higher we got the more frequent our stops were and the tougher it got. I was surprised at how difficult this summit was, and was VERY happy when we finally reached Stella Point at 12:00noon – a mere 7 hours from when we started!
We all gave each other a high five and took the requisite photos before deciding whether to carry on for the extra hour to Uhuru Peak. Sian decided this was the one and only time she would do this *#$&%# mountain so she was heading up further. Jim contemplated going as well but decided it best to turn around and not push his luck (his breathing had been laboured up to this point due to asthma). He did an amazing job reaching 5730m!! And did much better than many that turn around before this point. I too was struggling with my breathing (your body can react dramatically different each time you reach altitude), so John said the two of you will be turning around. At that moment my inside voice said ‘yee ha, I’m going down’ and then reality sunk in – we still had at least 3 hours and 1200m of steep downhill before we reached camp and some substantial food. Snacks at this point weren’t cutting it! One nice thing is that there will still be certificates for all three of us.
As Sian headed up further, the two Johns, Jim, Amy and I started our descent through the mist and fog. The weather had been nice up until this point, however the clouds had come in and we were getting wet – thank heavens for waterproof clothing.
At 2:45pm we walked, or hobbled, into camp and straight for the dining tent! Faithful Ema was waiting for us with juice and the whole crew were there saying congratulations! What a lovely reception. Still a bit shell shocked from altitude and exhaustion we ate what we could and then headed for our tents for a nap. We will wait to see what time Sian arrives back down and either stay another night here or proceed down lower to the Millennium Camp (which is preferable as it is best not to stay at the higher altitude for too long).
I fell into a pleasant sleep considering my little mice ‘friends’ were ever present and scurrying around. At 5:00pm I was jolted from my sleep by Ema shouting, ‘we are leaving camp in 10 minutes’. Obviously Sian was back and we needed to move quickly to get to the next camp before
We left about 5:20pm and gingerly started down the hill to 3700m and Millennium Camp. Before long John, Jim and I were ahead of Sian, John and Winston as Sian’s knees were giving here issues – rightfully so after such a descent. We trudged along in silence and around 6:30pm we had to put on our headlamps as the sun was setting. It was a peaceful experience walking in the twilight and then dark watching the stars and moon appear. Beauty aside, it seemed like eternity walking on tired legs and finally at 7:30pm we arrived at camp – hooray!
Sian and John were about 15minutes behind us as Sian’s knees were in bad shape by this time. We ate what we could manage and we were all tucked in bed by 9:00pm.
Lala Salama (sleep well) – oh I will!