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January 1: Machame/Mweka Route Day Six

Monday, January 9th, 2006

Victory!
Barafu Camp (4,600m/15,091 ft) to the Summit (5896 m/19,343 ft) and then to Mweka Camp (3100 m/10,170 ft)
Summit time: 7 hrs
Elevation change: +1300 m/+4265 ft
Estimated distance: 5km/3.2 miles
Final elevation: 5896 m/19343 ft
Descent time: 5 hrs
Elevation change: -2800 m/-9186 ft
Estimated distance: 12km/7.5 miles
Final elevation: 3100 m, 10,170 ft

We will start trekking early before sunrise. The 1,100-meter (3,600′) ascent in just over 3 km (1.86 miles) will take us about 6-8 hours, as we try to reach the summit to watch the sunrise over the Great Rift Valley. After a brief stay at the summit of the highest point in Africa, Uhuru Peak, at over 5,898 meters (19,340′), we descend via the Barafu Route roughly 2,500 meters (8,200′) in 12 km (7.44 miles) in about 4-7 hours to Mweka Camp.

Well, I’ve already posted a lot about this day. It consisted of a few things: me being miserable, me reaching the top, and me wishing I was off the mountain. Definitely a ‘me’ day.

The climb up was aching slow, slugging and painfully cold. The way down, skiing on the scree, was almost as exhausting. I did not see a lot of people break down, like I expected, but there were definitely a number of people that used all of their reserves to make it to the top…and then couldn’t get back down.

After a few hours in the tent to pack up, we were on our way again. My knees were very sore and each step down on the Mweka route was painful. It made for a long three hours.

That night, many people sat around and drank beers in celebration. No one, I think, was sad that the climb was ending.

Lessons of the day:
Maybe, this wasn’t such a good idea after all
Going downhill can suck even more than going up
Hand warmers stop working at a certain temperature – but ‘restart’ when you warm them up a little
Even insulated bottles freeze

December 31: Machame Route Day Five

Monday, January 9th, 2006

It Doesn't Look That High!
Karanga Valley (3963 m/13,000 ft) to Barafu Hut (4,600 m/15,091 ft)
Hike time: 3.5 hrs
Elevation change: +600 m/+1968 ft
Estimated distance: 4km/2.5 miles
Final elevation: 4,600 m/15,091 ft

Today involves gaining a little more elevation, acclimatizing and resting for the summit attempt on the next morning.

My body is, in a word or two, falling apart. It’s not so much the things I expected – sore knees, blistered feet, etc – but the one I didn’t imagine – stomach issues, sunburned eyes with dirty contacts and a nose rubbed raw from the constant wiping. I am glad we are trying to summit tonight.

For the first time, our 3-4 hour hike only took us 3-4 hours. Today’s hike was very easy – definitely the easiest day. Many people combine it with the walk we did yesterday, which gives you both a shorter recovery time and less opportunity to adjust to the altitude. No thanks.

For the first time as well, the sun has mostly stayed out – probably exacerbating my poor eye pain! It’s actually hot in the tent for once!

I’m mostly prepared for tonight. Sean’s not sure he’s going to even attempt to summit – I hope he does, he’s made it this far, it would be a shame to sleep through the momentous part.

Right when we were reaching camp, we saw a guy stumbling down with the help of two guids. Shit! My stomach did a few back flips and I admonished myself – I cannot get worked up every time I see that tomorrow or I’ll never make it. The last 4,000 of so feet are spread over 2-3 miles. Out breaks will only be to go to the bathroom and will be a very ‘pole pole’ experience of around 6 hours.

I wish I was in a smaller group so we could go a little faster, but I imagine I might be thankful for the speed in about 12 hours. We have another group leaving around 11, so we’ll hopefully all make it in time to see the sunrise. There is also a false peak 45 minutes before the summit. Ahh! I hope I can do it!

Lessons of the day:
If you’ve forgotten or lost something, chances are, someone else will be able to replace it – especially medicines!
Reaching the summit would definitely be a feat
I need to prepare myself for not reaching the top and not everyone is going to make it
Guides are pimps

December 30: Machame Route Day Four

Monday, January 9th, 2006
Climbing the Wall Barranco Hut (3901 m/12,800 ft) to Karanga Valley (3963 m/13,000 ft) Hike time: 3.5 hrs Elevation change: +100 m/+328 ft Estimated distance: 4km/2.5 miles Final elevation: 3963 m/13,000 ft From Barranco Hut, we climb up ... [Continue reading this entry]

December 29: Machame Route Day Three

Monday, January 9th, 2006
Mountain top, seen from camp Shira Hut (3749 m/12,300 ft) to Barranco Hut (3901 m/12,800 ft) Hike time: 5 hrs Elevation change: +100 m/+328 ft Final elevation: 3900 m/12,800 ft From Shira Hut, we hike ... [Continue reading this entry]

December 28: Machame Route Day Two

Monday, January 9th, 2006
Scenery Machame Hut (2834 m/9,300 ft) to Shira Hut (3749 m/12,300 ft) Hike time: 7 hrs Elevation change: +800 m/+244 ft Estimated distance: 6km/3.75 miles Final elevation: 3800 m/12,467 ft From the Machame Hut, we cross the stream onto its ... [Continue reading this entry]

December 27: Machame Route Day One

Monday, January 9th, 2006
At the Gate Machame Gate (1634 m/5,363 ft) to Machame Hut (2834 m/9,300 ft) Hike time: 7.5 hrs Elevation change: +1200 m/+3937 ft Estimated distance: 10km/6.21 miles Final elevation: 3100 m/10,170 ft Easy track for the first hour ... [Continue reading this entry]

Mt. Kilimanjaro Deaths

Friday, January 6th, 2006
A few climbers died on Mt. Kilimanjaro this week after strong winds and a rockfall. While searching for the story, I also came across another one that talked about last year(?) on NEW YEAR'S, when one person ... [Continue reading this entry]

Mt. Kilimanjaro on New Year’s Day

Monday, January 2nd, 2006
Well, for those of you who don't want to read any further, here's the key thing: I made it. I hiked to Africa's highest peak, summiting (sp?) around 6:30 a.m., just in time to see the sun rise. ... [Continue reading this entry]

Lots of Posts – Time for the Mountain!

Monday, December 26th, 2005
I spent my Christmas writing, as you can see by the 13 or so posts below and in the archieves (look under Kenya/Tanzania). My time, of course, is limited in the cafe, however, so I am unable to upload ... [Continue reading this entry]

Church on Christmas Day in Tanzania

Monday, December 26th, 2005
For Christmas service, Deanna and I decided to indulge ourselves in a cultural experience and head to church in the small village where we were staying. It started a little after 10, and only a few of the 40 ... [Continue reading this entry]