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Climb KILIMANJARO and say:     "I was at the Top of Africa"
 

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The Summit      Preparations       Memo      What you must Know     Altitude Sickness

7 Hrs of  70 degrees gradient at a pace of 1 step every 2 to 3 seconds!!, but it is Worth it...

At the Summit; UHURU Peak, We Made It!!

        

The climb

It was 11:30 pm on the night of the 4th day. We decided to start getting ready for the climb. We made porridge, coffee, packed the bags and the tent (you donít normally do this if you come with porters) and we left it all with the guards.>

Head torch on, dressed almost like an astronaut we started the ascent.

My guide and I walked very nice together as we both can keep a slow but constant pace for long periods.

The climb was steep, slow and painful.

The first Ĺ hour your heart is pounding at light speed rate and you feel short of breath.

It got Cold, very cold. The air that you breathe in is so cold that it hurts the lungs and dries your throat. I had to put my balaclava over my mouth and make a pouch in front of it so that my breath out would warm my breath in. The cold comes from the sides and from your back.

2 hrs into slow painful climbing, now adjusted to the harsh conditions, it got even colder and heavier. We were now climbing at a pace of 1 step every 2 seconds (short steps). This was faster than most people that we passed along the climb.

Everyone is panting, ladies complaining of the cold and tiredness, someone in the back shouted a big fu......! in frustration.

We slowly carried on and painfully on. You donít care if anyone is in trouble, as you are focused solely on the climb.

My right buttock developed a needle pain and I got worried as it stated to travel down my leg. It was the cold.

I told my guide please no more overtaking, because I spent 5 times the energy of a normal step in a longer step needed to overtake, and it took me about 20 mins to recover.

3 hrs climbing and my body feels sore all over. I started to stop every 10 steps for 5 seconds to get my breath back. The ground is now loose gravel at a 65-degree gradient and every step that you take, you slide Ĺ back. It is cold cold cold.

I decided to take a photo of the light of moshi town, which could be seen from this point, and my hand almost froze when I touched the metal of the camera. I took a nice shot, but also took another hour before I could feel my fingers again.

At 4 hrs and something, we reached the rim of the crater (Stella point). The last 20 mins before this point was a sadistic one-step at a time against your bodyís will. Now climbing at one step per 3 seconds and this step being Ĺ foot long, plus your breath is long and painful. Your heart is pumping like a drum set. The cold that touches your face is numbing. It is now getting light and we are now able to see further than 3 mt without our torches.

We rested at a rock outcrop. You feel finished but guess what!, itís not over. We still have another 1 Ĺ hr to the summit, and this is the worst news anyone can give you now (my guide was in serious trouble of being dismantled right there).

When you sit on any rock, you feel the cold traveling from your bum up, so you do not sit for longer than 2 mins.

After a lot of convincing to my body to carry on, we got going again.

It is now more or less level walking but it makes NO DIFFERENCE!, you are finished and exhausted and every step you take is a conscious effort still at a pace of 1 step every 2 to 3 seconds. Peopleís faces look terrible, and you hope that yours does not look also like you are bout to dye.

We carried on slowly, wind from the inside of the crater, you can se UHURU peak in the distance and it looks far. You also see the flashes of the cameras of people that have already made it.

The sun started to show beautiful colors on the clouds and it is an incredible spectacle of nature; but you are so, so tired that one cannot appreciate it fully. You are focused on the peak ahead.

The breathing is by choice a long inhaling and a long exhaling and you try to keep it to 3 steps in 3 steps out.

The Summit on the 5th day

The sun is almost out of the clouds, 6:45 am and we are 5 mt from the summit. You see people hugging each other; everyone is in tears men, women, old and young.

As I took my final steps to the summit marker, a wave of emotions came to me: My mom, my family, my wife, my children, my girlfriends, my pets, my childhood, my school and friends; my entire life passed through my soul in les than 10 seconds. The feeling is indescribable.

All the pain, exhaustion, the aches are all present, you are still freezing cold, cramps all over and yet; you donít mind. It was worth it just for this moment. Even for my guide who completed his 35th climb, I saw him sitting down and crying a bit. It is a very emotional moment and you can definitely feel the human spirit around you. Somehow we all become family as we all shared the same pain and the same feelings to get to this incredible spot. You look around you and you see people expressing themselves completely openly, everyone shares the tears you feel like letting out. Your body suddenly feels like jelly and your legs are shaking horribly but it is now due to the emotions more than to the exercise.

After the initial moments, you now start taking notice of your surrounds and also start taking photos. You wait for your turn to stand at the summit marker. Everyone wants this. Some people bring out banners, others some token; like a man that took out 5 teddy bears out of his bag and placed them next to him. A couple decided to give each other a scrumptious kiss while the photo is being taken.

I, just went for the photo, simple and straight, but I know what it means to me.

The sun is now starting to come out of the clouds and it is awesome!. The shadow of Kilimanjaro starts to extend over Tanzania and over Mount meru, which is 50km away in the distance. This is quite a spectacle. People all around you are very emotional and the landscape is absolutely incredible. You look in any direction and you see space, plains of land covered by grass and some tiny trees. Some of it covered with low clouds, some of it open. Clouds burn like fire with the sun and the sky is deep blue.

Now I have to say that up to this moment everything looked a bit fuzzy every now and then, and I thought it must be the effect of altitude, but when I wiped my face after sneezing, I discovered that my eyelashes were frozen with icicles and this was what was making things look fuzzy. I had a good laugh when I discovered this and I also discovered that my whole face was covered by a thin layer of ice. My eyebrows were completely frozen too, and looking at other people, they too were covered by ice all over their face.

By the way, it is now freezing, freezing cold. The sun 1/2 out of the clouds made no difference at all. Wind blowing at about 15km /hr from inside the crater.

After all the photos and the moment of glory ( which lasts altogether no more than 10 mins) we decided to start down. It is too cold for sightseeing.

Now walking became a pleasure, going down no more painful steps. You feel like in the clouds (and you indeed are). We stopped to look at the inside of the crater. It is enormous. You look into an ice-covered valley about 3 km across. On the other side of this op, you see a large hill covered by ice, and this is the actual crater where the fumarole is located, but it is far away. A steep way down first ad then a flat walk for about 1.5 km and then another climb to the top of the other side. This looks far and uninviting. The sun shines on the glacier bed making an enormous orange mirror of it. On our way back to Stella point, we stopped at various points to look at the incredible glaciers. They are massive. If you stand next to the glacier walls, you reach about 1/10th of its height. I decided to go down to one of them for a photo (about 20 mt down from the path), took the photo and to my surprise, every step trying to get back up was an incredible effort, as if someone had put a ton of lead on my feet and legs. It took me 9 mins to climb the 20 mt back to the path and I was exhausted. I decided then, no more close ups!.

I enjoyed the wonderful views that kilimanjaro was giving me, the beauty and power of it, the majesty and grandeur of it. I thanked Kilimanjaro for letting me reach its top, and for allowing me to share itís splendor.

One starts to see what you have really accomplished on your way down n back to Stella point (which is still the rim of the crater 5700 mt). You see people still coming up at an incredibly slow pace (you did the same just now). One man could hardly walk, was wrapped in an emergency blanket and was being aided by his guide. He looked ready to die but kept going. A Japanese lady was going around in circles and the guide had to turn her body in the direction of the summit so that she could unconsciously carry on towards it. We also saw an old lady that looked real sick being held by the arms by her guide and assistant. She cold hardly breathe but kept going. One man would give 3 steps, and stop panting for about a minute before another set of steps.

Everyone feels the pain of getting to the top; Young, old, fit and non-fit. It does not matter. It is hard and testing of your innermost strength to get there. Kilimanjaro is a mountain you have to respect and not to take for granted.

On our way up, we saw a number of people young and old turning back, some of them as early as the first 200 mt after the start of the climb. As you see them pass you get worried whether you will make it or not.

Climbing Kilimanjaro makes all equal: Men, women, young and old. there is no distinction. Everyone is fighting their own battle against their will.

Arrival at Stella Point (6hrs climbing)

The spectacle that the sun puts is breathtaking..

 

 

Kilimanjaro's shadow falling over Mount Meru

 

Lights of moshi from the top at night.

 

And... It is Glacier Showtime!!

 

 

 


Can you see me standing next to the glacier??

 

 
I
nside the crater

 

 

 

The glaciers are an incredible sight of nature!!

 

 

 

Inside the crater from Stella Point!

 

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