Mt Kilimanjaro, the highest free standing mountain in the world!!
Machame Gate 1800
Ayubu picked us half an hour early, we bounced our way through the sound barrier, flying over speed bumps on route to the highest free sanding mountain in the world. Upon arrival Gerald selected the porters from the mass of locals desperately trying to get work that morning from any of the companies going up that day, while we signed the entry book.
After a slight perch we embarked on our ascent. T’was easy going though a beautiful rain forest at first, then it started to rain… and rain… and rain. The rain didn’t stop… us from having a good time! Part from a tough hill just prior to lunch, Sally and I were fighting fit by midday. On the second stint of our upward climb we were rejoined by our guide, Mr. Umbrella man. Set umbrella proceeded to piss me of no end, due to Mr. Umbrella man’s attempt to slow us down, nearly taking my eyes out on numerous occasions. But we arrived at camp earlier than we expected.
No 1, we had arrived first into camp! Don’t tell anyone, we also left first! The day’s scenery changed dramatically, which took our minds of the walking. It began with rain forest and instantaneously changed into mossy what would you call that. After watching our porters set up camp, and sipping on tea and eating popcorn, we watched all of the stragglers crawl into camp. That was when we realized, as Aussies, we weren’t alone! Of all the camps, in all the mountains, in all the countries, in the world, Jennifer Adams (channel seven reporter), Clint Bizzel (Demons footy player) and Dan the camera man marched into our camp. They are currently producing a travel documentary called “The Places We Go”. Look out for it cause there is a chance we might have an appearance, then again we may end up on the cutting room floor. They were just excited as us to see more Aussies and we ended up becoming great mates, which continued over the rest of the trip. By this time dinner was ready. Omari (porter/waiter) thrust mountains of food upon us, which ended the night content but bloated.
Machame Camp 3000
After a restless sleep we woke with a hankering for a toilet and a good night’s sleep. A huge brekkie awaited us and then we packed. Then we set off, we tackled a steep incline with regular stops, to let porters pass. I believe if I could speak German, Sally and I would be able to great everyone on the mountain. Tough but fare work at first, then just generally tough. The height is beginning to get to our bodies and everything is starting to tingle, like fingers and tows. Mist became rain and moods became sombre just before lunch 11:30. After lunch we continued our hike up Jagged, slippery rocks which made life tough, but by 12:40, Umbrella man broke the good news “We have reached the highest point for today and the rest is down hill. We have reached 3850 and tonight we were staying at 3800”, “What!” I don’t believe in going down before you reach the top, especially seeing it is such hard work to go all that way up. But surprisingly quickly we stumbled across tent city, which we were shocked to find out was our camp for the night. Arrived at camp by 1:00, slept all afternoon because it was raining outside and just plain miserable. Getting up only for toilet and the occasional photo.
Mt Meru over the clouds. Shira Ridge at sunset.
After dinner the rain had stopped but the cold continued to penetrate deep into our bones so we crawled back into bed. I was lucky enough to be accompanied by hottie, Anne’s hot water bottle. Shira Camp 3800
I woke toasty warm, not willing to move. Eventually Omari got the better of us and we stirred. “Chakula Tahere” (food is ready) Omari called, in his always chirpy voice. After eating and packing, we set of. Walking was a constant 30˚ to 40˚ incline and relatively easy, made even better by the lovely weather, and a clear view of the snow capped summit.But the terrain became rocky and steep, causing Sally to want to cut off her right leg at the groin, for she had induced some kind injury in the groinal region. All the while the altitude was beginning to take its toll on our breathing. We reached the junction and Mr Umbrella Man said “let’s keep going up”. We felt like punching him, but what can you do? So we continued 300m and 45 mins out of our way to the day’s top of 4500m “Lava Tower”. The coming down was tough on body and mind, with Sally’s groin threatening to rip itself from her leg and my altitude temper threatening to explode. I mean really, why go to 4500m just to come back down to 100m higher than were we started that morning. Really, No I’m asking!!!” Going on then, we reached camp by 2:30 and both collapsed, it took us while to be able to stand again. Then the weather cleared and we got a fantastic view of our planned destination. We ventured down to see Jen and Clint and camera man, who we now know is called Dan. They had, had a good days trek and were both excited and nervous about the trip to come. Clint was enthusiastic about showing Sally how to strap her groin and Jen was enthusiastic about coming to the school, but this would depend on time and their movie plans. Then it was time for food and then to crawl into a nice warm sleeping bag, due to the fact I had left a hot water bottle in there waiting for me.
Barranco Camp 3900
Trudged down to Jen, Clint and Dan’s camp to say adios and wish them the best of luck (they were doing the trip of 7 days, where as we were doing it over six. Ended up staying and chatting again and got another couple of minutes on camera, that’s when we got our only little family snap, to capture the moment, and to prove to people that we really did meet Jennifer Adams and Clint Bizzel, if we end up on the cutting room floor. Clint asked about Sally’s groin and she replied in the affirmative.
Picture this, sheer wall of jagged rock, 87˚ angle to the ground. “We’re going up there?” “Yes!” So up we went. I was excelling at hoping from rock to rock, Sally on the other hand, was overwhelmed by her by her discovery of nurofen gel and a little pink pain killing tablet, which were donated to her by a friendly English doctor. Close to the top of the rock face we saw a porter bent over due to some kind of sickness, later found out it was due to attitude, which proves anyone can get sick on The Mountain. Just prior to lunch we tackled another painful hill, and ascending to fast completely took my breath away. Post lunch we left the happy 7 day campers and went up a never ending hill. We just kept going up, then it plateaued a little and then up some more. All the way up to our campsite, which looked like a pile of rocks, and the occasional smelly toilet. Our appetites had completely gone due to the altitude and we couldn’t stomach any food. So we went to bed and to an odd sleep.
Barafu Camp 4550m
Omari, with impeccable timing as always came and woke us up 2 seconds before my alarm went off. He then presented us with a plate of biscuits and all the condiments to make a hot drink, neither things we touched, instead we spent 45 mins wrapping ourselves up in preparation for the journey ahead. Gerald apologised that his tooth was causing hime much pain and he wouldn’t be guiding us up to the summit (lazy git). So instead we had Deo (the assistant guide) and Omari. The trek was cold and dark and didn’t change much except it became slippery and steep. But still we soldiered on. After a while the water and beverages in our drinking system froze, leaving us to rely on our reserves. What also froze included, but was not limited to, fingers, noses, snot, toes, and lips, along with everything that was left open to the elements. As we trudged ever upward we were treated to a beautiful and eerie sight, the many stars, the glowing moon and the snow atop kili which glowed as if it were some neon light. The lights from the head torches of our fellow troopers provided some insight as to our path as they snaked their way towards the summit. Apart from hallucination, fatigue and frozen fingers we made it up to the crater rim reasonably unscathed. At the rim 5700m there was no need for questioning wether we should or not continue the climb to Uhuru Peak(the highest point). There was just a short rest and we were off again. Sally and Omari continued with their good pace, I on the other hand, found every step a struggle and had to stop every five steps to catch my breath. The bloody peak seemed like it would never come, but come it did and it was amazing.
A fantastic view over Mt Meru, and the crater beneath us, as well as the glaciers which stood out in the middle of no where. We spent no longer than 5 minutes on the top for my hands were turning into popsicles and Sally’s temper was becoming bitter, due to the temperature. So we got our pictures and then started the descent. Sally found the descent great fun, sliding and skating her way down the loose stones. I on the other hand was suffering from a head ache and a sick stomach, so I took my time, but was lucky enough to have Deo by my side. After a long sleep at Barafu camp, the same place we stayed the night before. We are treated to a lovely lunch of Chipsi Maiai (a mixture of chips and egg). It was an epic to get up to the tent to eat it though. Just as we were leaving we saw Clint and Jen, so we had to go say our last good lucks, and because we are all such good friends we knew they wouldn't mind if we interrupted their lunch. We then chatted for a long time about our climb and the things they should be prepared for.
The descent killed our knees and when I got into camp I swore I would never be able to walk again, and was dreading the last day of more down hill. Sally had also done some dreadful damage to her knee, just to add to the pain of her groin. And then to top it all of I had an acute nose bleed, which is apparently common on your descent. Well a nose bleed isn’t common for me and both Sally and I were rather scared at the amount of blood I was loosing. But Sally did think it was funny watching me walk around with two tissues shoved up my nose.
Mweka Camp 3100m
Well this morning was definitely the worst of them all, when I woke up, my nose tap turned back on. Due to my nose I was told not to eat much food for breakfast, so I just ate the watermelon. Then I was busting to go to the toilet, but the smell was that bad that I ended up emptying my stomach by throwing up, just next to the toilet. So once I had pulled myself together, we finally left camp. Every steep shot pain from the sole of my foot all the way up my calf through my knee, up my thigh and crunched around my hips. So the walk to the gate was a slow and long three hours and I really can’t believe I made it. You’ve got to love Gerald, because of my little episode this morning he phoned our driver earlier that day and organised for the driver to come up the track as far as he could to collect us. So we didn’t have to walk the whole way to the gate. When we got to the gate we collected our certificates and jumped back in the car and headed back home. Where we spent the rest of the afternoon restricting our movement by crashing in front of the TV.