Saturday, September 29, 2012

Kilimanjaro - part 5 of 5

Wednesday – 09/19
We were awakened at 11:30 PM after a restless couple of hours.  It is really hard to get any sleep at 15,000’ with 15 people piled into a room, all of them attempting to hydrate AND taking Diamox (for altitude, but a side affect is frequent urination).  Boy was it cold!  We gathered for some tea and toast before heading outside just before 1:00 AM.  Our hike would take us from Kibo (15,430’) to the summit (19,340’) over 6km (about 3.7 miles).  The sky was absolutely blazing with starts and an incredibly bright orange Mars.  We could see lines of lights snaking up the switchbacks from all of the groups who headed out before us.  The goal was to be on the summit ridge around sunrise and hit the top, quickly get some pictures and head down.  At that attitude, in that cold, the least amount of time on the top would be for the best.  We passed about a dozen groups on the long zigzag climb to the crater rim.  My feet and hands were cold the entire time.  The slow steady pace made it hard to keep extremities warm despite three pair of socks and two pair of gloves and hand warmers.  The rest of me was warm; I had on six tops and two bottom layers.

We saw the sunrise just after Stella Point (on the rim), and we were standing on the “Roof of Africa” by 6:50 am (5:55 into our hike).  We spent about 25 minutes on top, getting pictures and getting sick from the altitude, and then hoofed it down.  Once we got to the scree slope Rufano (one of our guides) and I took off on our own zipping down the slope at a run.  It was wild bombing down the slope in a couple of feet of sand.  I was down to Kibo just after 9:00 (1:49 to descend) and our entire group was successfully down by 9:30 AM.
With action dave and 50 "friends" on the top

We rested for about an hour then had a light lunch before heading down to Horombo hut.  It was a bit hot during the last hour but the high from reaching the peak carried us down in 2:50.  We had dinner and were all in our respective bags by 9:00 after a very long day (up for 21.5 hours and hiking for 10.5 hours).

Thursday – 09/20
We were up at 6:00 AM, had breakfast and a little celebration with our staff before we took off on our final descent (12 miles and 6,000’ of drop) to the Marangu gate.  I gave away some of my gear and made one of the porters day by giving him my boots (only worn a couple of times).  We spent just under 3 hours (2:58) to Horombo hut where we took an hour for lunch, then another 1:54 of hiking and we found ourselves back at the gate.  We signed out and headed back to Weru Weru to unwind.
final packing

Andy and Robert joined me for the 3 mile out/back run, which was dusty, but didn’t have much traffic.  It felt great to be out running again…it also felt like I hadn’t run since Saturday.  At our celebratory dinner I had African pizza (pineapple & banana) and we all had a pint of Kilimanjaro beer.  I believe the last time I had a beer was over 25 years ago!

Friday – 09/21
Another 6:00 AM wake up and then out for the final run in Africa.  Robert an stuck with the same dirt road but went further out into the country-side covering about 7 miles in 62 minutes (probably more but who knows).  After breakfast we visited the Ashante offices and headed into Moshi for some shopping.  It was pretty wild going from shop to sop (led by various middle-men who seemed to appear out of nowhere).  We did finally get the price and sizes we wanted so that we could all have a matching team Tanzania soccer shirt.  The remainder of the day was spent lounging by the pool discussing plans for future adventures!


Scotty "PHAT" Graham said...

Thanks for sharing your adventure. I read all 5 parts. What's next?

Greg said...

Great read, DD! Congrats on a new high point.