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.>
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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..
shadow falling over Mount Meru
Lights of moshi
from the top at night.
And... It is Glacier
Can you see me
standing next to the glacier??
The glaciers are an
incredible sight of nature!!
crater from Stella Point!